Removing the snake from the garden with a stick was a rejection of the snake, but should not be seen as particularly an endorsement of the stick -- except as the closest available tool with which to eject the snake. The stick should not be seen as a substitute snake.
That was the tone after the election in which there was a general agreement that the election was a broad and deep repudiation of the president's policies and administration, while also not being an endorsement of the GOP.
We are so used to seeing politics as binary in America, it is almost algebraic: minus 6 D equals plus 6 R. The country either is for the Republicans or the Democrats. The idea that the public could be for neither does not fit our thinking. The effort to talk about the Democrats negatively without talking about the GOP positively (or the other way round) simply leaves us mentally adrift.
So we go about analyzing the coming season in the same old terms. Will there be gridlock between the two parties? Are there areas of agreement? Does it hurt the Democrats to hold the Senate? Is this all just a lead up to the presidential election of 2012?
But, as I argued in a column a month ago ("2011's Unchartered Political Waters," Oct. 6, 2010), the way many Americans are looking at their lives and the country's problems may be changing so profoundly that the existing political institutions are simply drifting toward irrelevance. Until something more useful comes to hand, the public will continue to go out and vote for one of the parties, but it should not surprise us if radically different methods of solving our problems may well be embraced, while they leave the GOP and the Democrats indifferently as drying bones on an ancient landscape.
The very fact that most of the commentators are comfortably discussing how nothing useful is likely to get done in the next two years may be heard as both shocking and pathetic. Americans are sitting up nights worried about almost every aspect of their lives, while TV know-it-alls glibly talk of neither party even trying to get anything fixed.
It would not surprise me at all to see in 2012 Sarah Palin leading a tea party campaign, Michael Bloomberg lead a middle-way third party, Feingold lead a progressive fourth party of the left, a couple of Republican Party regulars leading a rump GOP campaign, a few more GOP regulars running another rump GOP campaign -- while President Obama defends what is left of the Democrats.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.