JOE TRIPPI: What Obama Needs to Do Now

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Published November 03, 2010

| FoxNews.com

Last night's loss of the House by the Democrats was a stunning defeat and should send a loud wake-up call to every Democrat.

This was not just the largest but, undoubtably, the fastest loss of control by any party in the House in the last 50 years.

And, it’s the third wave election we’ve seen in the last 3 elections.

But, here is the first problem for President Obama. The wave elections of 2006 and 2008 removed GOP moderates -- such as Connecticut's Chris Shays -- from office and replaced them with more liberal Democrats. 

Last night's GOP sweep of at least 60 seats in the House removed some of the most moderate Democrats and replaced them with more conservative, and in many cases Tea Party Republicans. This means that Barack Obama will have to try to compromise and solve some very tough problems with a more polarized and divided House.

It's no secret how we got here.

The American people elected President Obama because they were so fed up and frustrated with what was going on in Washington.Obama looked unconventional, gave people hope and wasn’t a part of the establishment.

By turning to the American people, Obama united millions of Americans and created a movement that swept him into office.

But, once he went to Washington, instead of turning to the American people and rallying them by saying it’s us versus Washington, Obama seemingly "went Washington" on the American people.

He turned over his legislative agenda to the corrupt process of Capitol Hill (Obama had Pharma's help with writing the health care bill); and instead of fostering the same vibrant primary process that delivered his own nomination over the Party establishment's preferred candidate, Hillary Clinton, Obama shut down primaries,played the inside game and handpicked party nominees thwarting the wishes of the very grassroots party activists that had carried him into the Oval office.

More importantly by allowing the process to dictate the politics the White House lost control of the message. And so they squandered what had been the greatest narrative since Reagan and we entered the 2010 election with neither side having a narrative.

The people had little regard for either of our two political parties, but having already thrown out the GOP just 24 months ago now it is we, the Democrats in the majority, who drew their ire.

Many people like myself have been critical of the White House, or (yes I did this too) had the audacity to support a primary opponent against one of their handpicked candidates. 

The White House was never happy with such challenges to their authority but also seemed to have a tin ear when it came to listening or understanding what was going on. Supporting a primary candidate who took Wall Street money over a candidate who refused to take special interest money from any source. And attacked by them.

Hopefully this will be a wake-up call to the president and his team in the White House. 

The way forward is not that of George W Bush -- where he became more isolated and insular as things went wrong around him.

What President Obama needs to do now is go back to what got him here.

Turn to the American people and rally them around the issues that unite America and by so doing invite the new Republican majority to join with him. 

The GOP will either join with the president or in rebuffing him appear to take unpopular or extreme positions that could lead to a fourth consecutive wave election in 2012.

If the GOP joins the president in an effort to solve our problems -- the president, the GOP and the country win. And if not it may be the GOP that loses a bunch of seats in 2012. The president wins in either circumstance.

Righting the ship of state now, admitting mistakes and making renewed efforts to seek more advice from outside what is a very insular White House is essential. Why? Bbecause one of the key developments of Tuesday night's election results is that Obama’s own path to victory just got a lot tougher in 2012.

With the loss of governorships that until last night had been held by Democrats in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, Obama’s 2012 electoral map of 2008 is in jeopardy. True governors can make a big difference when it comes to a candidate for president winning their state and the electoral votes that come with such a victory. 

But all three of those states have higher average unemployment and shattered economies. Anything that might put states like Ohio or Pennsylvania beyond Obama's reach in terms of winning electoral votes in 2012 will greatly handicap the president's re-election efforts.

Obama knows that – that’s why he went to Ohio so many times – his visits weren’t just about 2010 – but the losses in those 3 states make it that much harder for him in 2012.

For those that think Democrats are dead and won't recover from last night's losses, I would urge some caution. Just 24 short months ago people were saying the same about the GOP. -- Too bad you don't get do-overs in politics.

On a personal note one of the bright spots of my night was Jerry Brown's victory for governor of California. It was a great team effort and I headed up production of the TV ads for Jerry Brown as he defeated Meg Whitman despite her spending $163 million in her quest to win the office and in a very tough year for Democrats.

Joe Trippi is a Fox News contributor and political strategist who worked for Ted Kennedy, Walter Mondale and Gary Hart and turned Howard Dean into an unlikely front runner in 2004. For more visit JoeTrippi.com.

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http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2010/11/03/joe-trippi-house-democrats-wave-election-sweep-obama-gop-tea-party-america/