In contrast, every major successful social reform — from Social Security to Medicare to welfare reform — has earned broad bipartisan support. For health care to pass in a durable form it must build on this tradition. Pushing through a party-line vote will backfire badly.

To regain his footing with independents, Obama needs to depolarize the debate over health care reform. He can do so by endorsing a bipartisan Senate bill that offers increased competition and coverage through nonprofit co-ops rather than the $500 billion to $1 trillion public option…

Washington’s professional partisans have an interest in perpetuating play-to-the-base politics. They view the inspirational post-partisanship of Obama’s 2008 campaign as a necessary ploy that should be abandoned once entering Washington.

What they don’t appreciate is that for his independent supporters, the hope and change that Obama represented was a break from the hyper-polarized politics of the past. It’s not too late for the president to regain this lost ground, but it is getting later than some in the White House might like to think.