Democrats appear headed for a stunning series of defeats in the congressional midterm elections.
That is a great political result – for Obama and the Democrats.
Starting Wednesday, Americans will expect the Republicans for the first time under Obama to be partners in leading the country – and that they can not do – not with their partners from the Tea Party, big business and lobbyists in tow.
They need to go from being the “party of no” to the party of “we are all in this together.” The odds on that are pretty slim.
Tea Party enthusiasts have not worked this hard in search of compromise. Lobbyists and big business want repeal of health care reform and financial regulatory reform.
That will leave a big opening for the president. People will see what he has been up against in a sharply new and clear way. As he prepares to seek re-election, he will have something to run against, as his opponents have been so good at doing.
When the Republicans take control of the House, as they will, they will have to govern.
They show no indication that they want to stop doing “business as usual” in Washington.
If this election cycle has proven anything, it is that the political right wing is still closely aligned with the lobbyists and other corporate interests, both foreign and domestic.
It’s also going to be much harder to bend the truth while governing.
You can’t govern on a platform of “the president is a Muslim and a socialist.”
You may not like “European-style socialized medicine,” but what about coverage for pre-existing conditions. Obstructing is not governing.
And what about ending tax breaks for millionaires? Cutting government spending? I don’t think they can (or want to) accomplish either of these.
Conversely, I think the president will have been “shaken-up” enough by this election to get the message. It is time to really do the people’s business differently. You don’t have all the answers. You must be willing to listen to a broader group of people. Change means doing things differently and with different people.
So there will be a big political opportunity created for Obama and the Democrats by this Republican congressional House sweep.
Obama’s comeback begins Wednesday morning.
Richard Socarides is a Democratic strategist and former White House adviser to President Clinton.