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Republican insiders point to the number of former Members who will be returning to Congress and to repeat candidates to argue the new GOP wont be as unruly as many think. But its an open question how the true outsiders will behave, and whether they are so connected to the tea party movement that they will end up creating as much trouble for their own partys leadership as for the Democrats.
Dont read long-term trends into this election or any other.
This country is changing, and that will have a long-term effect on our politics and our political parties. But elections reflect the here and now. Two years ago, that benefited Democrats. Today, it benefits Republicans. We dont yet know what 2012 will look like, or what party or candidates will benefit from it.
If Republicans repeat their mistakes of 1995-96, they deserve to be horse-whipped.
GOP Congressional leaders surely understand that this election wasnt about them and their party, and that they have no particular mandate. But some Republican Members (both sitting Members and those who will take office next year) are not so insightful.
Yes, voters want more and better jobs and are worried about spending and a larger role for government. But anyone who thinks this election is a mandate to repeal the entire Obama health care bill or abolish the Department of Education or repeal any amendment to the Constitution is somebody who truly doesnt understand public opinion or elections.
Politics and political coverage has deteriorated to such a point that even I am offended by it and Im about as cynical as anyone.
There is more polling now, and much of it is useless. There is more political coverage on TV, particularly cable, and most of it is embarrassingly stupid. Thank goodness for Chuck Todd, Charlie Cook and those others who maintain high standards of political analysis.
Prime-time programming decisions by senior executives at Fox News and MSNBC apparently make financial sense, but they have undermined civility and divided the country. The country would be better off if starting at 4 p.m., the two networks ran test patterns for the rest of the night.
Gotcha journalism has taken over our politics and elections, with feigned and real outrage standard fare, no matter how small or unintentional the misstep.
Finally, Americas celebrity culture has spilled over into politics. Today it is Sarah Palin. Tomorrow it will be someone else. People are so desperate to get their faces on TV that they will talk about anything.
Tomorrow, it will all begin again.
Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the Rothenberg Political Report.