Mickey Edwards, a political analyst at the Aspen Institute and a former Republican leader in Congress, cautioned that both parties may be misinterpreting the election returns and could wind up antagonizing voters even more as a result.
Obama and fellow Democrats are kidding themselves, he said, if they believe their crushing losses were merely a result of poor communication, as the president and many of his allies have suggested. "They have to realize people handed them their hats and said, 'Leave.' They have to do something different," Edwards said.
Republicans, he went on, should look for ways to govern and not drive the two parties even further apart. (Lawmakers on both sides, he said, need to forget about the 2012 presidential race for the time being.)
"The American people don't give a damn about the political parties," Edwards said. "What they have is great concerns about their job security and about whether they're going to lose their homes and about whether they can afford to send their kids to [college]."