I try to not give in to it, if for no other reason that in my line of work a rosy view of the world is a prerequisite for sanity. Today of course, doing that is difficult.
Up here in the Flathead Valley the electorate is pretty conservative. Whitefish (the Aspen of Montana, and home of our current Democratic governor) sometimes elects a Democrat, and HD 5 (downtown Kalispell, where we live) historically splits pretty evenly, sometimes breaking one way or the other by only a few dozen votes. Yesterday Whitefish elected a guy with ties to white supremacist groups, and the Dem in HD 5 (and one of my co-workers brothers-in-law) lost by 5+ points. Welcome to NW Montana.
True cynicism, something I partially believe in my least hopeful moods, is this quotation: “I can’t help feeling that if Obama were a white man, the tea party wouldn’t even exist.” It was left by a commenter on this excellent article by Tim Egan, which is the most succinct big-picture explanation I’ve yet found of the “republican wave” of 2010. Egan isn’t the only one making the point that president Obama has (likely intentionally) sacrificed election results on the altar of policy achievement, and while Obama’s historical reputation is already secure for many reasons, the question of what carnage and nastiness 2012 will bring is wide open.
It’s easy to say that the people know how to spend their money better than the government does. That tautology is as viscerally inarguable as it is false. One ideal Obama espoused in 2008, and has thus far fallen short on, is raising the bar of public behavior and discourse, or making it less acrimonious by making it more substantive. I hope that just as the president better knows better than I how to spend taxes on public projects, so to will he know how to elevate politics in the face of John Boehner. Because I certainly don’t know how.