Barack Obama gets what George H. W. Bush called “the vision thing.” In his speech to Congress, Obama laid out a bold blueprint for an America that tackles the big problems, calls for shared sacrifice and offers big rewards. It was almost shocking to hear after 30 years of supply-side economics that redefined the American Dream as merely the pursuit of profit.But it hasn’t always been that way. In the thirty years following World War II, we saw ourselves as a country that accomplished great things. We saved the world from tyranny—and then helped rebuild the nations we defeated. We cured diseases like polio, measles and rubella. We built an interstate highway system and most of our major airports. We cut the poverty rate in half and we provided health care for our elderly and poorest citizens.And while we were accomplishing these things, we built the largest middle-class in history. The formula for this success was largely based on the principals set forth in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal: a significant investment of government spending on infrastructure and social programs combined with a progressive tax structure that funded the system. While debates raged around social issues and social spending, both parties agreed that government had a significant role to play in regulating business and providing a substantial social safety net.In contrast, the crowning achievement of the supply-siders was a Dow that hit 14,000. We see where that got us.The accomplishments of the post-war era took vision that tapped into shared values and helped to define us as a nation. Over the last thirty years, we’ve lost that sense of unified purpose and, hence, a part of ourselves.Thomas Mills is President of Thomas Mills Communications, a Democratic consulting firm that specializes in direct mail, new media and strategic communications. The firm has offices in Washington, DC, and Carrboro, NC. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.