The Senate will have 12 Democrats up for re-election, and 21 Republicans. That's a huge opportunity, if they don't blow it in the next two years.
On NPR this morning, Robert Reich says that the Dems should concentrate on passing legislation and not investigating the crimes of the last six years, because people are sick of "mud-slinging".
That's what happens when one side adopts a policy of outrageous lying in order to make the public cynical about any bad news. It would be suicidal to let that strategy work. We need careful investigations into what has been swept under the rug all these years, and a dispassionate accounting of the facts. The country deserves it.
At the same time, the Dems need to pass strong legislation that works for the broad middle class (and helps bring more people into it)--a minimum wage increase, fixing the AMT, protecting civil liberties, rolling back the tax giveaways of the past few years, fixing NCLB, doing something serious about Medicare drug coverage, extending health care to the uninsured, reforming labor laws, making more financial aid available for higher education, serious job creation, and dozens of other things.
And they shouldn't be too eager to pass a diluted bill that will have the opposite of its intended effect--like NCLB--or allow various giveaways to be attached to it--like with the minimum wage bill a while back. Far better to pass something in one house that makes sense and will work and then fix the blame for its stall right where it belongs. In fact, it's time to grow some vertebrae and pass those politically impossible but realistically necessary bills in order to highlight the problems that need fixing (labor law reform is a good example of that). There's a danger of being tarred as "do-nothing" if that results in few bills passed, but that's better than doing the wrong things. An active Democratic House ought to be able to point to a whole pile of worthwhile bills and say, "We did our job!".
It's not an either-or choice--they can do both and they have to do both. And if the media prefer to concentrate on the more sensational stories, then it's up to the rest of us to read past the front page and emphasize the positive agenda.