Commentary: A Republican mandate? Hardly

Conventional wisdom says that Tuesday's election will result in two years of gridlock in Washington, as both parties immediately pivot to the 2012 presidential race.

It would be ironic indeed if the anger that helped fuel the Republican resurgence led to even more of the bitter partisanship that has so many Americans fed up.

The country simply can't afford that – and it doesn't have to be that way. There is plenty that Republicans, congressional Democrats and President Barack Obama ought to be able to agree on.

While comprehensive energy legislation is off the table, they can pass smaller measures to encourage conservation and cleaner alternatives that help wean us off foreign oil and create jobs along the way.

There's middle ground on fixing public schools and reducing the federal deficit. There should be progress on a major bill for flood protection and other water resources projects, including shoring up Sacramento-area levees.

Most of all, there should be consensus on ways to get Americans back to work. Moderates in both parties want to give tax breaks to small businesses, so important to economic recovery.

The balance of power in Washington has certainly shifted. The GOP picked up far more than the 39 seats needed to win a majority in the House. Late Tuesday, Republicans appeared just shy of adding the 10 seats necessary to take control of the Senate as well.

The president and Republican leaders alike need to heed voters.

To read the complete editorial, visit www.sacbee.com.