With the election now almost two weeks ago, the outlines of just how important this election was are coming into view. It appears that it will cause changes that even the victorious Democrats hadn’t envisioned. I believe that we are entering a post Limbaugh period, in which the blabbering of the far right unelected pundits will be relegated to the sidelines where they belong. I believe that we are entering a time when the Republican Party, aware of its now tenuous position, will begin to act responsibly and become a partner in the governance of our country. Call me a dreamer, but I believe that we will watch these developments take root in the months to come. There are specific signals that I have observed that brings me to this conclusion.
The graceless departure of Mitt Romney, helped along by his ill conceived and thoughtless comments just days after the election, leave the Party without a traditional post election leader. Fellow Republicans of all stripes have been abandoning Romney as quickly as their mouths will carry them. While Romney has not been willing to read the tea leaves provided by the election, many in the Party have, and the tea leaves are yelling, “move to the center”. They are signaling that the American people are tired of gridlock, and that continued obstructionism will cost the Republicans dearly. The American people have said, “we want solutions, not platitudes or self-serving pontificating”.
This election indicated something else that is perhaps more profound than anything else. The American people are not willing to be told what they should think, how they should behave, or allow their Constitutional rights to be taken from them. The voters in this election were adults. They were not willing to allow the Republicans to talk down to them and explain that, “if only you will elect us, we will take care of you and solve the problems”. “You don’t need the details”, the Republicans continued, “just trust us.” The reaction to Republican attempts at voter suppression was overwhelming and created increased turnout in areas that were targeted by these insidious and despicable acts. The behavior of the American voter in this cycle indicated a level of self awareness and confidence not seen in recent elections. They have said to Democrats and Republicans alike, “don’t shine us on, get it done, you work for us”. For the first time in a long time, the concept of accountability may play into Washington’s behavior.
Now I am not foolish enough to believe all of this will happen overnight. There are still many in Washington that are tone deaf and simply will refuse to change. But I do believe that they will be washed out with the current in 2014 as it becomes clear to the voters that they are out of step. As the word compromise comes back into vogue in Washington, the extremists will go back to where they belong, and inhabit the fringes.
A Two-Party System is, and has been, a vital component of our Democracy. It is not useful for one party or the other to become too dominant. It is necessary that they function in a manner that prevents the extremes from ruling, while enabling the work of governance to succeed. Politics has been defined as “the art of compromise”. Maybe, just maybe, we are about to see that definition come to reality again.