A Little Backbone.

President Obama seems to expect otherwise, but Jon Boehner and Mitch McConnell have no intention of compromising in the 112th Congress:

Despite what some Democrats in Congress have suggested, voters did not signal they wanted more cooperation on the Democrats' big-government policies that most Americans oppose. On the contrary, they want both parties to work together on policies that will help create the conditions for private-sector job growth. They want us to stop the spending binge, cut the deficit and send a clear message on taxes and regulations so small businesses can start hiring again.

Jon Chait says that this "is so deep into the realm of spin it's not worth evaluating as a normative claim," and while that's true, it's also good political strategy. Even when they win, Democrats have a habit of immediately endorsing the GOP view of an election. By contrast, Republicans claim victory regardless of the actual results; if Republicans win an election, it means the American people support their full agenda, if Republicans lose an election, it means that the American people support their full agenda. And if the public has completely turned against their party leadership, it only means they weren't conservative enough.

A Democratic version of this approach wouldn't suddenly change the public's mind about the economy, but it might encourage Democratic lawmakers and activists to be more forceful in the public discussion and give them the space to claim support even in the face of electoral adversity. Ultimately, elections are decided by the fundamentals, but on the whole, a little backbone doesn't hurt.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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