'We're all in this together," President Obama said on Election Night. 'That's how we campaigned."

A week later, responding to noise and squabbles about the word 'mandate," Obama responded: 'I've got one mandate. I've got a mandate to help middle-class families and families that are working hard to try to get into the middle class. That's my mandate."

Let's put this in context. In 2004, George W. Bush claimed voters had given him 'political capital" that he was 'going to spend." President Obama surpassed -- by a lot -- his predecessor in both the popular and electoral vote count. If Bush had a 'mandate," so does Obama. But Obama now faces a lame-duck session of Congress that acts as if the election never happened.

Rarely in history has a lame-duck Congress been so lame as the one that's leaving now. This Congress -- many of whose members won't return -- did less than Harry Truman's infamous 'Do Nothing Congress" of 1947-1949. This Congress couldn't agree on anything, even failing to pass a cybersecurity bill essential to the nation's security. The very first vote of the lame-duck senators was to reject the same bill for a second time -- along partisan lines.

The loser of the 2008 election, Sen. John McCain, was back front and center. In sharply partisan language, he called for the appointment of a 'super committee" to investigate the deaths of four brave Americans in Libya, including our ambassador. An old soldier and patriot, McCain seems to have forgotten the blame lies with the radical Muslims who conducted a surprise attack on our consulate. Congress is careening toward a so-called fiscal cliff. Why would McCain choose partisanship, especially when a bipartisan investigation by highly regarded security experts is still forming its conclusions?

Habit, perhaps. Old habits die hard. This lame-duck Congress just can't seem to break its knee-jerk partisanship. It's a failing that those who were re-elected may have to account for in the 2014 congressional elections. NBC news quoted Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who won a second term Nov. 6, as saying, 'The main message I heard throughout the state ... is they expect folks to go back to Washington and work together -- I heard that over and over again."

The president agrees. Obama struck a moderate tone in his press conference, claiming his only mandate was to help the middle class. He avoided chest-beating and any 'my way or the highway" talk. The president said he was open to compromise and new ideas. He also suggested that Mitt Romney might help come up with some good ideas for fiscal growth.

Indeed, the president, who spent the week reaching out to labor leaders, the business community and others, is eager to find common-sense solutions to resolve our nation's fiscal crisis.

'So we've got a clear majority of the American people who recognize if we're going to be serious about deficit reduction, we've got to do it in a balanced way," Obama explained.

True words. Exit polls show a majority of voters (60 percent, including both Democrats and Republicans) agree with Obama. They favor a balanced approach to reducing the national deficit -- one that includes both spending cuts and raising tax rates and revenues from wealthy taxpayers.

Though voters hunger for bipartisan solutions and cooperation, Obama's biggest hurdle may be to change the atmosphere. Outgoing Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts grieved the loss of moderates who made compromise possible. Given his voting record, Brown himself probably doesn't qualify as one. But he's right. Moderate senators like Olympia Snowe, Joe Lieberman, Richard Lugar and Kent Conrad have either retired or lost bids for re-election.

The increased polarization results, I believe, from a Republican strategy that hasn't changed in four years, namely conducting an unrelenting assault on Obama as being 100 percent wrong all the time. Republican leaders have more excuses than a teenager for their refusal to reach any compromise. As the election shows, however, they ignore at their peril Obama's mandate to help restore the middle class.

The pace of change may be moderate, but it will be change that folks can believe in and get behind. We will have to be patient and we -- all of us -- will have to remain engaged, calling on our lawmakers to work together.

The president has a mandate -- one he will use for the common good. The press and the public need to keep their focus on the moderate change Obama is seeking, and not be distracted by partisan red-herring investigations or salacious sex scandals that will only weaken our unity.

Donna Brazile is a senior Democratic strategist, a political commentator and contributor to CNN and ABC News.

(3) comments

DaveA

Why it's true some terrorist attracted the embassy, an enology would be. The parent that refuses to put a safety cover over the electrical outlet and their offspring stick something in the outlet severely injuring them self. The parent says I didn't know that would happen. The embassy is in one of the most dangers places I the world. If he did not know they needed more protection than he is a moron. The fact that they were asking for help wright up to the minute they were killed incompeten

randomcommenter

Oh, good grief. I can take anyone I want seriously. And just because everyone doesn't vote all Democrat or all Republican means nothing. The country is divided, because no matter how you stack it, there are a majority of politicians who think compromise is a dirty word. It takes TWO to negotiate a compromise and I think what you want is for one side to bend over.

Rob Taylor

Danna Brazile is a democratic strategist and should not be take seriously when discussing anything to do with what the people want. Otherwise, the democrats would have taken back the House of Representatives. With such a close presidential race and with less people voting for the President this time than the first time he ran would be an indicator that the county continues to be deeply divided. Also, if the Democrats want to stop the gridlock in Washington then why doesn’t their party compromise with the Republicans. It takes two to stifle.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.