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It seems the two-party system is alive and well now that the political pendulum has swung back again, this time much to the Democrats' delight and the Republicans' despair. They tell a story about an old farmer up in Kansas who emerged from his cyclone shelter after a storm had swept away everything in sight--the house, the crops, even the topsoil, leaving behind nothing but dust and debris. And he burst out laughing. "Pa!" cried his son, "Why are you laughing? Everything's gone." "Why, son," the old man replied, "I'm laughing at the completeness of it."

The whole country seemed in an insurgent mood in this year's elections, and maybe the no longer Grand Old Party should join it. For the natives have grown restless, yet again, and it showed in the election returns this month. And who can blame voters for throwing caution to the ever-shifting winds and going with their impulses? For the country now has a nominally Republican president in Donald Trump, who acts as if he were a political party of one whose tweets reveal a deeply shallow character. He sounds anything but presidential. As he flits from subject to subject and continent to continent, an observer can only wonder at his abundance of energy and absence of judgment.

In the best of all possible Republican worlds, the country would have a president who combined Ronald Reagan's old-time conservative religion and populist allure. Now, this president offers his country and party both in fits and starts, unable to settle on just one dependable approach to politics. While the Democrats seem to have the opposite problem. They may have an appealing mix of promises to offer the American public just now, but no single leader, no presidential hopeful to lead their headless party.

And so Democrats wander among the ruins their opposition has left strewn about, picking up the spoils of their transient victory. To the victor belong the spoils, but what are those spoils worth if that victor doesn't know quite what to do with them?

American politics remains a great circus with many more than three rings--a fascinating spectacle to watch. But is it any way to govern? Let's just say our politics lack definition at the moment. For when someone says he's a Democrat or a Republican, what does that mean? Your guess is as good as ours, Dear Reader, and probably a lot better. Our politics lack the ideological clarity of the European brand, thank goodness, for there is such a thing as following ideology right over the nearest cliff. But that doesn't mean ours are any more intelligible.

American politics remains a great circus, but there is no ringmaster in sight. Which party one is inclined to root for is no simple matter of economic determinism but a complex admixture of family history, geographical roots, and maybe just impulse. When a European visitor to this country was told her hostess' father was a Republican, she asked if that meant he was a captain of industry, owner of a small business, a reactionary type, or all or none of the above. Our visitor could only snort in response to the assumption that her own father was a Republican. "My father," she haughtily declared, "is a royalist."

They are fragile things, words and politics, which can shift from left to right and back again at a moment's notice. But there's often less to these dramatic shifts than meets the eye. There's no need to follow the news every day; to be sure, it'll just repeat itself in time. At the moment, everything is in flux. And there's no sense in assuming it has to make sense here and now. If you missed a late development, there's no point in regretting it. For it will be repeated soon enough.

So to the winners of this season's elections our congratulations and to the losers our condolences. But no sweat. This merry-go-round will be swinging back around soon enough.

Editorial on 11/14/2017

Print Headline: Dems win big

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  • WGT
    November 14, 2017 at 7:50 a.m.

    Mr. “Editorialist”,
    You do realize this “opinion” is a contradiction of itself, top to bottom. Meaning you have no idea just what it is you want to convey other than the fact your boss needed you to fill column space. Sad.

  • WhododueDiligence
    November 14, 2017 at 9:20 a.m.

    "But no sweat. This merry-go-round will be swinging back and around soon enough."
    What a strange ending. The merry-go-round will be swinging back? When this merry-go-round swings back, how hard will We the People get smacked? What happened to the old political pendulum? If the old political pendulum ever swings back, we might not recognize it and We the People might get smacked by a megaton of gold.
    In this strange ending, the editorialists pooh-pooh today's disgustingly sorry state of American politics by saying "no sweat." The editorialists (not only at the ADG but many other newspapers across the country) reacted to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision with the same pooh-pooh ho-hum don't-worry-be-happy attitude. They failed to comprehend that Citizens United--which legalized unlimited campaign donations from hard-to-trace multi-billionaire donors--was a major game changer in American politics. And like the game-changing aspects of the 1857 Dred Scott decision, Citizens United's game changing is a political disaster.
    Take the 2016 election for example. Now aware that Citizens United basically legalized the bidding war to control politicians, many voters chose Donald Trump in part because he is too rich to be bought and controlled by his fellow billionaires. On the opposite side of the political spectrum, many voters chose Bernie Sanders because he strongly opposes this disgusting control which multi-billionaires now exert, corrupting the American political system. In normal times, neither Trump nor Sanders would have attracted much of a following, but because the rules of the game have been radically changed to favor multi-billionaire radical extremists, these are not normal times. The pendulum has shifted.
    Many news articles show this disgusting state of affairs in American politics. For example the recent Politico article "Angry GOP donors close their wallets" describes billionaire donors demanding what they want and threatening to withhold cash from elected politicians who fail to enact precisely what their billionaire donors want. We the People don't have to wait until the merry-go-round comes around again. We already know it's the super-rich who will be riding high.