What really makes me despair, though, is that I can guess exactly how the Democrats will respond to this drubbing. Instead of refocusing on the liberal and progressive values that ought to be their main message, they're going to turtle up. They do it every time. Instead of trying to distinguish themselves from the loonies on the right, they'll all move closer to what they'll call "moderate", but is actually more of a conservative right-wing position. And the next election will be even worse.It is one of those curiosities that makes one tear out one's hair: the fanatics that practically define today's political right do not want to compromise with anyone, while the do-gooders that practically define today's political center and left insist on compromising with everyone. One speaks only the language of good and evil, while the other has neither word in its vocabulary. Where is the party that starts from a strong spirit of compromise, but draws the line at accommodating fanaticism?
Unless somebody on our side wakes up and realizes that they're in a fight, and that conciliatory measures are not called for. I'm looking at you, Obama. But somehow, I don't think he's the right man for the job.
Paul Krugman also gets it right:
Reid understood exactly what he was fighting against, and chose his tactics accordingly.
Aha. I almost forgot to mention this, but one of the surprises of last night is that Harry Reid, supposedly a completely hopeless case, is still Senator.
How did that happen? Reid did something Democrats almost never do: instead of apologizing for his party, he ran against a person with a habit of making crazy statements by hitting hard, again and again, with ads calling her a crazy person. It was very rude and uncivil. And it worked.
Update: Forgot to mention another point-on analysis, to similar effect, from Chris Hedges, channeled through Hume's Ghost:
As long as the liberal class speaks in the dead voice of moderation it will continue to fuel the right-wing backlash. Only when it appropriates this rage as its own, only when it stands up to established systems of power, including the Democratic Party, will we have any hope of holding off the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party.