One of the oddities of the current moment is that the country wants a radical change in government but not a radical change in policy.
On the one hand, voters are completely disgusted with Washington. On the other hand, they have not changed their fundamental views on the issues. There has been some shift to the right over the past two years, but the policy landscape looks mostly the way it did over the last few decades. We’re still a closely divided nation; it’s just that we’re angrier about it.
The result is that over the next two years we’ll probably see gridlock on stilts. The energized Republicans will try to reduce the size of government, but they won’t be able to get their bills past President Obama. The surviving Democrats will try to expand government programs, but they will run smack into a closely divided Senate and possibly a Republican-controlled House.
Unable to do anything in the short term, both parties will devote their energies to nothing but campaign gestures for 2012. The rhetoric will fly. Childishness will mount. Public nausea will hit an all-time high.
Somewhere in the country, though, there is a politician who is going to try to lead us out of this logjam. Whoever that person is, I hope he or she is listening carefully to what the public is saying. Because when you listen carefully, you notice the public anger doesn’t quite match the political class anger. The political class is angry about ideological things: bloated government or the predatory rich. The public seems to be angry about values.
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