Wednesday, November 08, 2006

One of my favorite quotations is attributed to Mark Twain who, commenting on the disappointing results of an election, is supposed to have said, "The people have spoken, the bastards!"

I'm sure that many Republicans, particularly the President, are saying that today in the wake of yesterday's midterm elections which gave Democrats clear control of the House of Representatives and, possibly, control of the Senate (two states are still in contention as I write this, one of them being my adopted home state of Virginia).

So what does it all mean? In my view, not very much.

I would hope that the stinging rebuke given to the Republicans in the House and Governors' races will be a wake-up call that they have lost America's confidence and need to spend more time building bridges and less time being arrogantly dismissive of the concerns of the opposition. I would also hope that the Democrats take the opportunity to pursue the moderate agenda that the nation seems to want, and not use their big wins to take revenge (however well earned) on the Republicans. Unfortunately, though, I don't think this will be the case. The stubbornly and poisonously partisan, take-no-prisoners style of politics now in vogue seems to me to guarantee a Congress which will continue to be stymied by a lack of willingness to compromise on issues in order to move forward on the nation's problems.

And that's the issue: the current political tendency to equate principled compromise with craven selling out. Where are the statesmen? Where are the leaders with the vision and the moral courage to reach out to their opponents, find the areas of common ground, and build on them to realize the dream of a better future?

Time will tell whether or not the Democrats can be good winners and the Republicans good losers, working together for the benefit of America as a whole, rather than the partisan interests of their parties. I guess I'll be cautiously hopeful, even though the odds are long.

But I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


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