Democratic leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi don't seem to grasp the wisdom of learning from mistakes. From what's evident so far, they seem to have little appreciation of the extent to which Sen. John Kerry's defeat in November reflected the total absence of ideas in the party.
One would think that a decisive loss in the presidential election, along with losses in the House and Senate, would have caused the creative juices to flow in the Democratic Party. Yet, the opposite is happening. Rather than opening up the faucet of ideas, they've completely turned it off.
President Bush put a bold vision and agenda before the American people in his State of the Union address. The Democratic response, given by Reid and Pelosi, sounded like the last chapter of the Kerry campaign.
Is a "Marshall Plan" for America really the best vision that Sen. Reid can come up with? Or to suggest, as the Nevada Democrat did, that somehow we have government investment to thank for the incredible Internet technology revolution of the last 10 years? Or that a few tweaks here and there will keep our massively unfunded Social Security system functioning?
Does Rep. Pelosi of California really think she'll capture American hearts and minds by shrugging off the importance of elections in Iraq to peace and freedom in the Middle East and to our national security at home? Monopolies don't serve anyone well, whether in business or politics. But it's clear that the Republican Party has cornered the market on ideas for 21st-century America. All we hear from the opposition is a chorus of "nos" and cliches about big government that are as old as the Social Security system and as bankrupt.
This is not a healthy state of affairs. A vibrant and creative national dialogue is vital oxygen for a free country. Democrats don't hold up their side when the best they can do is define themselves by being against everything that Bush is for.
Going forward, it seems to me that the Democratic Party has two options. One is to concede that Bush is correct that our goal must be to continue on the path of advancing freedom and personal responsibility, and to contend with him about details on how best to achieve this. Or, they can reject the premise that freedom and personal responsibility are our goals and continue to promote more government.
So far, it seems like they're moving down the latter path.