Joshua Marshall puts forth this challenge: "whether the Democratic party can embrace a true, rather than a cosmetic, agenda of reform and whether Democrats, after ten years out of power in Congress and four years in exile from the White House, can start acting like a true opposition party."
One option supplied is "public access to legislation," which would give the public at least three days to examine pending legislation ... at the very least, we should allow Democrats in Congress such a right! The little gems like the power to examine tax returns that were found in recent omnibus spending legislation makes this sort of power quite important. Another related reform would be to divide up such legislation into small chunks, which along with the time to examine, was how things used to be done before the current hordes came into power.
I'd also toss in my interest in the "Draft Dean" to DNC chair movement, a position perhaps more suitable to him than presidential candidate. The discussion over at Orcinus (thanks BTC News for the link) also links to discussions on rural concerns, which can be a progressive gold mine, if properly handled.
It also is useful to recall that Purple Stater Sen. Reid now heads the Senate Democratic Caucus. Toss in newcomers from Colorado and Illinois (whose fellow senator also moved up the leadership ladder), and the possibility for a Midwest/Southwest surge is not completely out of the question. The chances are there, and the mess the Republicans and the ever growing "yes brigade" in the Bush Administration are making for the country makes them all the more essential.
Overall, I would also note that the venom some on my side tosses out there on their opponents troubles me. I know some of these people that are apparently immoral bloodthirtsy "Repugs" that are given about the respect of your average cockroach by the most strident of the bunch. Not to be too wishy-washy about the whole thing, but such feelings are a tad exaggerated, though we cannot ignore the truth in the charge.
After all, we are talking about many of the same people who elected Bill Clinton and made it possible to have (I couldn't believe this when I read it) something like fifty more Democrats in Congress back in 1994. Or, were among the over fifty percent that felt things are going badly. In other words, they are not only our fellow citizens, but part of our future vote pool. If, that is, the Democrats can manage to take advantage of the situation.
For instance, now that the shoe is on the other foot, the Republicans in Congress desire to nationalize many things that might very well be best left to the states. Their tendency to do so in matters of morality, has been if anything overdiscussed. Another example are attempts to federalize tort liability rules, including by providing special protections for gun manufacturers.
The trend, most recently in blue state Illinois, against such suits suggests that such legislation is ill advised. The Second Amendment might protect gun manufacturers, but it also might equally suggest a freer hand for states to regulate them. Trends in the courts and various ballot measures also suggests states should have flexibility on the matter of medical malpractice. Or, of course, medicinal marijuana.
Thus, home rule along with the excesses of the majority (minority?) might very well be a gold mine for Democrats. It's the circle of political life: the other side was quite successful using such tools; now it is our turn.