Winning by Not Losing.

Ed Kilgore warns Democrats to get ready for a long stretch of misery ahead: "Even if Obama wins reelection by a comfortable margin, it’s most likely that the House will remain in Republican hands and Democrats will lose seats in, and perhaps control of, the Senate—and beyond that, Republicans will probably do fairly well in 2014. In other words, we could be looking not at two years of damage control, but six."

True -- it won't be easy to take back the House, and Democrats will be defending 23 of the 33 Senate seats contested in 2012, meaning they could win most of them and still lose control of the chamber. It's worth noting, then, that negative accomplishment can still be meaningful. Stopping Republicans from doing the things they want may not get you a triumphant signing ceremony, but the effects on people's lives can be just as profound. Imagine if you could go back in time and stop George W. Bush's tax cuts or the war in Iraq. That'd be something. And if Democrats successfully protect the Affordable Care Act from the coming GOP assault, for instance, they will have done something just as important as passing it in the first place.

So while it's true that it will be a long time before a Democratic Congress has a list of legislative accomplishments like the one members of the just-ended 111th can point to with pride, the opportunities for heroism are just as plentiful.

-- Paul Waldman

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