Opinion Brief

After the election: Could civility possibly return to D.C.?

Republicans and Democrats are vowing to make compromises to tackle huge problems. Skeptics cannot help but scoff

House Speaker John Boehner and President Obama are promising to move forward in the spirit of compromise as they restart budget negotiations to strike a debt-reduction deal and avoid a potentially devastating round of automatic spending cuts and tax hikes — the so-called fiscal cliff — looming at year's end. "If there's a mandate in [Tuesday's] election, it's a mandate for us to find a way to work together," said Boehner, leader of the Republican-controlled House. Polls show that the public is deeply frustrated by gridlock in Washington, especially on Capitol Hill. Post-election Washington, however, looks a lot like pre-election Washington, with a GOP majority in the House, a Democratic majority in the Senate, and Obama preparing for another four years in the White House. Are Republicans and Democrats really ready to give bipartisanship a try?

They'll have to work together to avoid economic calamity: Both sides are talking about the need for civility, says Kurt Shillinger at The Christian Science Monitor. And "the so-called fiscal cliff provides an early opportunity for cooperation," as both sides will have to put country first to avert a recession. And Senate Republicans should make the first move, now that their dream of denying Obama a second term by obstructing him at every turn has gone up in smoke."After Obama win, how civility can come to Washington"

The ball is in Obama's court: In his victory speech, Obama promised action instead of "politics as usual," says the Bradenton, Fla., Herald in an editorial. "If the president fails to deliver on that pledge of bipartisan problem-solving, the country will remain stuck in neutral." Obama and the Democrats have "only have themselves to blame for gridlock" after spending their 2008 political capital on "ramrodding" through ObamaCare and the economic stimulus "over virulent Republican objections." If they want "civility and compromise," let them show it."Time for Obama to lead on bipartisan solutions"

If anything, partisan warfare will only get worse: Given the massive challenges facing this lame-duck Congress, we could use some old-fashioned cooperation, says Leo Shane III at Stars and Stripes. Unfortunately, this Congress is "the least productive in modern times" (it hasn't passed 200 laws yet; the next worst since World War II passed 330). The parties are so sharply divided on everything from taxes to immigration that, if anything, we'll see an expanding partisan divide on Capitol Hill."Campaign's over, but the partisan divide is expanding"

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