Tip O’Neill was wrong
It was one of the adages to live by in American electoral politics. The powerhouse retail politician and late Speaker of the U.S. House from Massachusetts uttered it over and over.
For years, Tip O’Neill was right when he said: “All politics is local.”
Until this year, when officially our politics isn’t local anymore.
It seems that in 2010, all politics in America is nationalized, partisan and divided.
State legislators who have nothing to do with the mosque at Ground Zero, the national health care law or the bank bailout are being swept out of office because of the Party they’re in. Not the work they’ve done, not their records in their communities, not their specific ideas on local issues. Just the company they keep and the team they play on.
One legislator called me yesterday and told me he was finished. “There was always a middle,” he said. “Now, the middle is gone. And I’m gone too.”
America is a center-right nation in many ways. And Tuesday we went through a seismic shift. A big wave swept in, but inevitably it will ebb back out.
Don’t get me wrong. They’re was an important wake-up call here.
Americans are hurting. They’re out of work and losing their homes and their retirement savings.
They’re pissed off. And they took it out on the Party in power at the ballot box.
At least for now, they want power-sharing and divided government.
But new polls are already showing that they don’t really trust the Republicans in Congress.
Within a few months, John Boehner and his followers will own their own piece of the jobs, budget and deficit mess and be expected to provide responsible solutions.
Unless the economy turns around significantly, Americans will still be looking for politicians to blame.
And one thing is certain…
For John Boehner and his new Republican colleagues in Congress and in State Houses and Governor’s mansions across the country, the celebrating will need to be brief.
The honeymoon is already over.