On education, Obama showed a path out of gridlock that could work as well in solving other entrenched problems. "For decades, Washington has been trapped in the same stale debates that have paralyzed progress and perpetuated our educational decline," he said Tuesday. "Too many supporters of my party have resisted the idea of rewarding excellence in teaching with extra pay, even though it can make a difference in the classroom. Too many in the Republican Party have opposed new investments in early education, despite compelling evidence of its importance."
The tectonic plates on which the 20th century was built are shifting in the 21st. In the 1930s, New Dealers like FDR had to save capitalism from itself. In the 1990s, New Democrats like Bill Clinton had to modernize progressive government. Over the next few years, Barack Obama has to do both at the same time. For that, as Obama made clear again yesterday, a new president with a new approach is exactly what we need.