Our system of government can only produce policy when geographically broad coalitions favor it. The Senate, more than any other institution, forces such breadth. Obama created breadth the wrong way. He watered down initially liberal legislation to prompt just enough moderate Democrats to sign on. Instead, he should have built policy from the center, then worked to pick up enough votes on either side. The left would have been disappointed, but the right would have been marginalized and, most importantly, Independent voters – who have abandoned the President in droves – might still be on board.
A revolutionary idea in our polarized political climate, I know. Still: ask your average swing voter what he or she thinks of such an approach, and watch them nod in agreement.