THE BLOG
11/03/2010 02:28 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Obama's Choice: Compromise or Fight

With a hostile House of Representatives and a divided Senate, President Obama will have to decide whether he wants to move to the Right or the Left. While it looks like his tendency is to search for consensus and hold out an olive branch to those who attack him, the president may come to the conclusion that the other side just wants to counter him. Given this scenario, several things can be done.

One strategy is to simply keep promoting popular progressive legislation, and let the Republicans reject bill after bill. However, this will only work if Obama can clearly articulate to the American people that the opposition is just being oppositional and they refuse to help out their fellow citizens in a time of need. For instance, an increase to the minimum wage could bring in popular support and then anger when the Republicans shoot it down. Moreover, a foreclosure moratorium could help Obama with his base and independents if it is sold in the right way. After all, there is still a fair amount of resentment of the banking class, and Obama could steer this anger away from the tea party and towards the Republicans.

One way of bringing down the opposition would be to re-introduce George W. Bush's comprehensive immigration reform bill. If Republicans are forced to vote on this type of legislation, there will be an internal civil war, and the extreme Right will have to confront moderates and Latinos. Furthermore, the extreme elements of the tea party movement will be exposed by highlighting their anti-immigrant racism.

What Obama should not do is attempt a type of Clintonian triangulation, which would help him pass conservative legislation under the guise of being bipartisan. If we see him promoting tax breaks for the wealthy and reductions of social programs, like social security, we will know that he has decided to pursue the most politically expedient option.

Let's hope that Obama becomes more like FDR and less like Bill Clinton. In other words, he should push through a progressive agenda that helps the majority of Americans, and if the Republicans undermine his policies, they need to be exposed for their anti-democratic tendencies.