Today's election results likely will signal an historic shift in the Congress. In some ways, the final picture of what the actual makeup of the 112th Congress may remain hazy and unclear for several days .
Just a few short months ago, no one but maybe an optimistic National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Pete Sessions could have predicted such possible seismic shifts in the political makeup. And I've heard more than a handful of Republican friends and colleagues mutter to me, "Now what do we do if the prognosticators are accurate?"
Let's begin with these six steps:
Govern, don't goad. It's pretty simple, voters didn't so much as vote Republicans in than they voted Democrats out. They didn't make John Boehner the Speaker of the House to simply goad and get even. They voted for Republicans to govern, and to govern well. That means not worrying about what Steny Hoyer of Maryland or Henry Waxman of California says or does in committee, but simply bearing down on important legislation and getting the job done. If Democrats stand in the way, then fine, make that case in November 2012. Remember, this mess wasn't created in four years (and Republicans certainly contributed to it during the early 2000s) and it will take far longer to clean it up.
Forget your enemy; build allies instead. For the better part of the past 16 years, congressional Democrats and Republicans played a simple yet twisted game of binary politics - if the other side is losing, we must be winning. Once they realized that equation, both sides sought to undo the other more so than to actually govern. So for 2011, instead of trying to destroy their opponent, Republicans should instead focus on building a coalition of the willing. Draw in moderates, Blue Dogs, anyone who is open-minded on the various issues Congress will face. If the polls from Nov. 2 showed one thing, it was that voters are tired of the bitterness. Growing a majority in 2012 means growing your base of support with the electorate, and that means posting early successes no matter how the ayes and nays are counted.
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