A lot of people, Democratic and Republican, have been saying that yesterday’s election was “the most important in our lifetime.” It wasn’t — and wouldn’t have been had the presidential race gone the other way.
But as it is, the outcome was hardly shocking. An incumbent got re-elected. Wow.
The Senate solidified its Democratic position; the House remained solidly Republican. America after Election Day looks almost exactly the same as America before.
So, why so little change?
Blame it on “hope.”
Face it: in electoral politics, fantasy sells. Mainstream politicians love to promote The Dream. Not the American Dream, which is about hard work and honest dealing, but the Changeling Dream, about getting something for nothing. Or getting ahead at others’ expense. At present, this Dream rests upon spending more than government takes in forever and ever, believing that somehow there are no disastrous consequences to the resulting accumulation of debt.
Democratic politicians may be better able to describe their lavish dreams for all that government can do, but Republican office-holders sure seem to hang out on that same street in Dreamland.
Now they’ve just about all been re-elected to go back and hang out for another term.
What can we do? Hope they change their spots?
No. That’s too passive. “Cast your whole vote,” Henry David Thoreau wrote, “not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence.”
How? In 2013 and 2014, citizens can petition to put important issues on state and local ballots. We change the terms of political debate; we gain the upper hand — and put common sense back into government.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.