Pick your favorite: "Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it." Or, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result."
Either way, the wisdom is wasted on President Obama and congressional Democrats. They learned nothing from the historic "shellacking" voters gave them.
Whether through ignorance or intent, the White House, Harry Pelosi and Nancy Reid -- what's in a name? -- are again setting their sails against public opinion. Damn the voters, full speed backwards.
They still want to raise taxes on small businesses and families making over $250,000. They want to pour billions more into the unemployment pot, which is becoming a welfare program.
They refuse to stop sky-high spending, preferring to keep the debt bomb building. They reject the clamor for a ban on earmarks.
The whole world wants a new economic approach from Washington, but Democratic leaders see the lame-duck session as another chance to impose their wrong-headed will. The voters spoke -- they roared! -- and the Dems respond by becoming the Party of No.
The result is a growing chatter among loyalists that 2012 already is shaping up as another disaster. Skillfully tacking to the center is the only hope, but so far, party leaders are still steering hard left.
It's a startling scene, as though the election never happened, with the same crew running the Titanic. Pelosi, freshly minted as minority leader for the January term, intends to squeeze a final burst of partisanship out of her beaten crew.
Ditto for Reid, meaning the last vote many members cast will be yet another one in defiance of their countrymen.
Obama, to his credit, came back from Asia seemingly ready to recognize reality, or, as spinmeister David Axelrod put it, "We have to deal with the world as we find it."
Alas, that bright and shining moment was brief. When the wackadoo wing insisted the president not budge, Obama told Pelosi and Reid he'd follow their lead on taxes and spending.
So we're back to where we were before the election. But there is something new -- another revision on what voters allegedly want.
Ridiculed for first claiming they lost because of a failure to communicate, Dems have a new talking point. Call it the failure equivalence theory.
Voters don't "have a lot of faith in the Republican Party and they don't have a lot of faith in the Democratic Party," Vice President Joe Biden now says. "And so they're saying, 'OK, we want you guys to work together.' "
Obama's on message, too, saying "the American people were not issuing a mandate for gridlock."
Nonsense. The mandate is for stopping the Obama agenda and taking the country toward smaller and less expensive government. It's not complicated.
The only way to arrive at any other conclusion is to twist the facts and argue voters were equally angry at all incumbents. But the lopsided numbers don't lie.
In the House, the GOP took 65 new seats, while losing only three of its own, for a net gain of 62.
In the Senate, the GOP took six new seats, and held all its own.
It was a one-sided election, just as 2006 and 2008 were. Not incidentally, when they won big in those years, Obama & Co. didn't see victory as a mandate for bipartisanship.
As the president boasted during his first 2009 showdown with Republicans, "I won."
Well, now he and his party have lost a referendum on their policies. Finally, they ought to admit it and work for the majority of Americans, instead of against them.
Otherwise, history will repeat itself in 2012.
Michael Goodwin is a New York Post columnist and Fox News contributor. To continue reading his column, click here.
Michael Goodwin is a Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist.