On November 8, 1994 as Republicans across the country celebrated an unprecedented 52-seat gain the U.S House of Representatives and a pickup of eight seats in the Senate, they were likely not thinking that they were creating the very political climate that would allow their nemesis Bill Clinton to coast to victory two short years later.
Flush with victory and armed with their Contract With America, a Republican House and Senate set about to work with Clinton to find common political ground, forming a centrist coalition that gave Clinton a strong economy to run his re-election campaign on. And the rest is history.
Last January I wrote here that we were in for an historic election that could result in 75-100 seats changing hands in the House of Representatives and I’m sticking by that prediction. But as was the case in 1994, if President Obama plays his cards right and if the GOP repeats its performance, the debacle the Democrats are likely to face on November 2nd may be the opening bell of President Obama’s successful re-election campaign.
For the president, after he takes his licking at the polls, it will be vitally important that he reach out to the GOP as Clinton did, coaxing willing Republicans into joining a centrist governing majority that allow him to stabilize the economy and run in 2011 and 2012 on the real hope that his policies are finally turning the economy around. Boldly courting the likes of John McCain, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Dick Lugar and Olympia Snowe, the President would be well-advised to embrace every member of the GOP who owes no allegiance to the Tea Party and try his best to co-govern with them, even as he seeks to marginalize the freshly minted, and (presumably) hostile members of the new Congress.
Republicans on the other hand are going to have to run a most unusual type of quasi-permanent campaign that promises no quick fixes to the current crisis, does little to cooperate with the president, and insists that the problems are so deep that a fix will require three elections and will be complete only when the entire Senate and the President are fully replaced in 2014. Translation: The Tea Party Revolution will roll on through the three elections and until completed, the country will continue to suffer an Obama-induced malaise which is immune to any quick fixes.
For both President Obama and the leaderless GOP, the choices are stark and clear: Flush with a huge majority in the House of Representatives and perhaps a razor thin majority in the Senate, some Republicans will be sorely tempted to use their newfound power to cooperate with the president and help him right the ship of state quickly with the likely result being a re-elected president.
For the president on the other hand, his success will be incumbent on coaxing his opponents out of a "just-say-no" strategy that defers offering solutions until he’s out of office, and leading a broad centrist coalition that comes together to enact concensus-oriented policies that will strengthen the economy and ensure his re-election.
Mark Joseph is a producer, author and editor of Bullypulpit.com. He is a frequent contributor to Fox News Opinion.
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