The Democrats and President Obama are actually in the best position to take advantage and leave most of the blame for the fiscal-cliff nightmare on Republicans. President Obama’s willingness to accept the Bush tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and raise taxes on the other 2 percent has substantial support in the country. Obama and Democrats, therefore, are well-positioned to stand up to the party’s purist base and endorse the Simpson-Bowles across-the-board approach: cost savings and reform of Social Security and Medicare. If Obama does that, then he and the Democrats will have truly cemented a sustainable new left-center political majority for years to come.
But if neither party steps forward in this way and both parties take us over the cliff on Jan. 1, 2013, then look out! We may see the true beginning of a viable national third-party movement — well beyond what Teddy Roosevelt won in 1912 and Ross Perot achieved in 1992.
Lanny Davis, the principal in the Washington law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, which specializes in legal crisis management, served as President Clinton’s special counsel (1996-98) and as a member of President George W. Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (2006-07). He currently serves as special counsel to Dilworth Paxson and is a partner with former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in Purple Nation Solutions, a public affairs-strategic communications company. He is the author of the forthcoming book Crisis Tales – Five Rules for Handling Scandal in Business, Politics and Life, to be published by Simon & Schuster. He can be followed on Twitter @LannyDavis.