Obama Gets “Vision,” Richardson Doesn’t


In my recent article on Bill Richardson, I wrote, “Richardson articulates a platform, not a vision.” The New Mexico governor has a habit of listing policy proposals—including incredibly obscure and tiny policy proposals—without explaining how they fit into a narrative or theme that makes the case for his presidency.

I want to provide an example of a campaign that avoids this mistake, to better illustrate what I’m saying. At a event in Bettendorf, Iowa, yesterday, Barack Obama proposed the following things:

  • A middle class tax cut of up to $1,000 for working families.
  • Elimination of income tax on retirees making less than $50,000 per year.
  • Guaranteeing paid sick days and family leave days.
  • Doubling funding for after-school programs and giving a $4,000 tax credit to college students.
  • Cracking down on mortage fraud and predatory credit card policies, ending abusive payday lending practices, and reforming bankruptcy laws.

In all of these areas, Obama matched concrete policy proposals with an explanation of how they will make the lives of everyday Americans more stable and more prosperous. He discussed taxes, retirement, family issues, education, college affordability, and housing, all within the context of what Obama called a “plan to reclaim the American dream.” The whole speech was about the American dream, and about how, under Obama’s leadership, it will get easier, not harder, to achieve.

That’s policy matched with vision. And that’s what Richardson lacks.