I come here not praise vision but to bury it.
Funny thing. You see, it’s wildly overrated, especially in non-presidential election cycles. The GOP has never had a much of a positive vision over the last couple of decades and they have done just fine, running against Democratic presidents, with just a frisson triggered by Newt’s inane contracts or Ryan’s incoherent mimicry of a low rent kind of DC-specific wonkishness.
The folks who talk about the Democratic Party’s need to craft a proactive vision are generally selling something. What they hope to get paid in is usually leadership within the party (often of an informal kind) for politicians, intellectual respect (and a book deal) for columnists, and paying clients for consultants.
Though none of the federal races have tipped all the way over, we have seen that running against Trump and the GOP works quite well.
And opposing these things implies a certain positive message. Running against Trumpcare/Ryancare/McConnelcare implies that people deserve healthcare, which is a positive message. Running against cutting healthcare for old people, sick people, veterans, and poor people (often overlapping groups) implies a stance against inequality and favoring the rich over everyone else.
Democrats can run quite handily without the vision of the sort that pols, writers, and consultants have been saying is absolutely essential. Which should be taken to mean that invidious candidates don’t need a message and that they don’t need to be disciplined about staying on message, but that’s just electoral politics 101z
My own two cents (and if anyone wants to anoint me a leader, give me a byline in a magazine, or hire to share my wisdom with your organization, feel free) is that Democrats just need good candidates for the districts and states in question. They need to be able to raise money (being right can’t substitute for totally inadequate resources), but also to be a cultural fit for the area. But maybe you shouldn’t reward me for saying this, because, actually, most of the folks who actually know what they’re doing have already said it, only they are less strident than the vision-mongers because they have less of an angle.