If anyone noticed, on November 4, 2014, Republicans won a majority in the U.S. Senate. I could have run out the next day and stocked up on guns and ammo, but the thought didn’t cross my mind. Nor did I start digging a moat around my house to ward off foreign influences and African diseases.
Liberals, and good citizens of all stripes, don’t respond to electoral defeat by abuse, violence, rebellion, shouting, whining, and panic. Life goes on. There will be another election.
The problem with American poitics today is that one’s group has to stay revved and outraged and constantly plotting and campaigning to win a prominent place in governance. Liberals, and other normal folk, just want to live and aspire and not be burdened by harmful or neglectful government. Government is supposed to be a positive, helping, protecting force in society. Democracy is one principle, among many, guiding the way. Elections, among many others, are a method for traveling together on that path rather than the end all and be all of social existence. Radicals of every variety make a fetish of power; it is a degrading obsession like addictions to chemical intoxication, perpetual buying and gambling, and lazy sponging off of the kindness and generosity of others.
Though I doubt that the radical right will stop raging, and the Republican center will start governing in a spirit of constructive civic compromise, I still hope and believe that there is room yet for open, civil society without recourse to wanton aggression toward the peaceful among us who are young, infirm, ignorant, powerless, endangered, different, or just independent.
There were setbacks for liberal notions last week. They make liberal ideas and liberal society more difficult to attain. But the obstacles can be, and I believe will be, overcome – if next time those who shrugged before the vote actually pay attention and make the effort to cast a simple, informed ballot. We got what we deserved as a complacent people: if not an indifferent then an obstructive government that will not build or repair bridges without pitching a holy fit first.