The midterm elections of 1994 resulted in Republicans winning a majority in the Senate while at the same time gaining control of the House for the first time in 40 years. It looks like today, that result has been finally, decisively reversed. For losers and winners alike, it is essential to remember that politics is important. But it is not all important. That is not just a modern phenomenon. It has always been a fact of life.
Many who live and die by the electoral sword will certainly be shocked to discover that most of the grand glorious headline making events in the political realm today will go down in the annals of time as mere backdrops to the real drama of everyday banalities. But it is so.
As much emphasis as is placed on campaigns, primaries, caucuses, conventions, elections, statutes, administrations, surveys, polls, trends, and policies these days, most of us know full well that the import of fellow workers, next door neighbors, close friends, and family members is actually far greater. Despite all the hype, hoopla, and hysteria of sensational turns of events, the affairs of ordinary people who tend their gardens and raise their children and perfect their trades and mind their businesses are, in the end, more important. Just like they always have been. Just like they always will be.
That is the great lesson of history. It is simply that ordinary people doing ordinary things are ultimately who and what determine the outcome of human events not princes or populists issuing decrees. It is that laborers and workmen, cousins and acquaintances can upend the expectations of the brilliant and the glamorous, the expert and the meticulous. It is that simple folks doing mundane chores can literally change the course of history because they are the stuff of which history is made. They are who and what make the world go round. As G.K. Chesterton has aptly observed, "The greatest political storm flutters only a fringe of humanity."
Thus, what many presume to be electoral apathy is merely electoral ambivalence. It is not that the American people believe that politics is insignificant. It is just a recognition that in the end, there are any number of things in life that are more significant.
Most of us would have to agree with the astute political axiom of commentator George Will, "Almost nothing is as important as almost everything in Washington is made to appear. And the importance of a Washington event is apt to be inversely proportional to the attention it receives."
Eugene McCarthy, once the darling of the New Left, also said it well, "Being in politics is like being a football coach; you have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it’s important."
Intuitively, we know that is true. Especially on days like today.
Sozzled with preposterous false expectations and bedazzled by a ceaseless chatter of well meant platitudes, the media and the ideologues have told the truth about the falsehood that they tell. Like all the other quacks and conycatchers now crowding the public trough in Washington, their suppositions drift ethereally above normal logical processes and pass into the murky domain of transcendental metaphysics. Such is to be expected. That is their job. And they have done it.
So now, it is time for us to do our job--back in the real world.