Republicans are never going to allow genuine bipartisanship to happen during an Obama presidency.
They've portrayed Barack Obama as a radical, a socialist who pals around with terrorists. They've called him anti-American and elitist. They've intimated that he's a dark-skinned foreigner, some sort of dangerous Other who threatens our way of life.
Bipartisanship is not an option for them come January 20.
That may come as a disappointment to the American public, which longs for an end to the partisan bickering in Washington. But it doesn't have to.
There's a third option, one that not only satisfies the need to end the constant back-and-forth and gridlock, but also guarantees Barack Obama's reelection in 2012 and Democratic majorities for years to come.
Democrats should just ignore them.
Ingore Republicans in Congress. Ignore their silly amendments, ignore their calls for hearings, ignore the speeches they give, and ignore them when they complain about being ignored.
Ignore their right-wing echo chamber. Ignore Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge and Fox News and their newspapers and blogs. Ignore it when the mainstream media amplifies them.
Ignore the daily talking points and the noise. Ignore the inevitable anti-Obama conspiracy theories. Ignore the horse race as their contenders jockey for position in 2012.
Ignore them all and just... govern.
If things go well on Tuesday, we'll have a Democrat in the White House and big Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress. Even if we don't reach the magic number in the Senate, we can probably get 60 votes on major issues when we need them.
That means President Obama can set a bold, progressive agenda and Congress can pass it with little or no fuss.
Republicans can complain all they want. They can yell about raising taxes when we cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. They can cry "socialism" as we guarantee every man, woman, and child in America health care coverage. They can warn that we're wrecking the economy as we build a new green economy with millions of new jobs, energy independence, and an end to global warming. They can try to rouse fears of a more dangerous world as we finally take our security seriously and rebuild America's reputation.
Let them complain. We'll just govern, and govern well. And come election time -- in 2010, 2012, and beyond -- we'll be rewarded at the ballot box. You really think Americans are going to vote against the president and the Congress who finally gave them health care? You think if we fix our economy and create jobs that a few silly slogans from the far right will matter?
Republicans will be left with nothing but the culture wars of the last century, trying to win on abortion and gay marriage when the rest of us have moved on. They'll be pushed further toward the role of a fringe, regional party, with their candidates vulnerable to third-party spoilers like libertarians and theocrats.
Leave the partisan bickering to them. We may not usher in a new era of bipartisanship, but we can give Americans all they've ever really wanted: a government that stands up for them.
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