Robert Borosage is co-director of the Campaign for America's Future and co-editor of The Next Agenda: Blueprint for a New Progressive Movement and Taking Back America: And Taking Down the Radical Right.
One thing is clear -- the prospects for a destructive "grand bargain" have gotten better, not worse.
Congressional leaders in both the House and Senate have now named the 12 appointees to the congressional Super Committee charged with finding $1.2 trillion in deficit savings from some combination of increased revenues and cuts to Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. A deal that could be very damaging to the most vulnerable in society may be closer than anyone suspects.
The scope of Barack Obama's sweeping victory hasn't yet registered in much of the media. Conservatives and Republicans have responded to defeat with one constant refrain: they can take solace in the fact that America is a "center right" nation. That reality means defeat is only temporary, its causes largely transitory. The losses this time are attributed to Bush's many failures, from Iraq to the economy (the explanation varies from faction to faction).
"The oil companies, the predatory student loan companies, the insurance companies, and the drug companies have had seven years of a president who stands up for them. I intend to be a president who stands up for all of you."
The last ad of the late Sen. Paul Wellstone, the populist battler from Minnesota? Not quite -- it's a Hillary Clinton ad in Ohio. The candidate Fortune magazine hailed as Wall Street's favorite is even more populist on the stump.
"We have to recognize that this was a defeat for Republicans, not for conservatives," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich summarized the 2006 Republican election rout. Republicans, George Will echoed, "were punished not for pursuing but for forgetting conservatism."
Conservatives now react to the debacle that is the Bush administration with two general strategies -- denial and disavowal. Conservatives are cutting and running from George W. Bush, blaming him for straying from the conservative gospel, and invoking, by contrast, an iconic Ronald Reagan as exemplar of that faith.
One swallow does not a summer make nor one election a new era. But some significant new realities that emerged from 2006 merit attention. First, clearly, this was a sweeping victory. Democrats had to overcome the Republican advantages in incumbency, gerrymandered districts, money, and mobilization, and to do so in the midst of a wartime presidency. And they did.