Good government is like a good boyfriend/girlfriend, good acting, good management, even good clowning - it's easy to take for granted... unless you've had the bad version. If your head is full of goo- goo fantasies, reality has trouble competing. Sometimes trial and error is neccessary. The sexy James Dean type who sits in front of you in history class might prove a distraction until you actually go out with him and find out his biggest ambition is to go to Amsterdam for the Hemp fest, or he's a flake, or generally just not as interesting as he seemed - and then you discover you kinda prefer the other guy who doesn't provoke the same envy from your friends but who actually calls when he says, doesn't have vague commitment issues, has more in common with you, gets your humor, whatever...
Not that every guy that looks like James Dean is a loser or every girl is superficial & obviously some people make good decisions the first time but with the rest of us...oftentimes, there's a big difference between what SEEMS like it'd be fun, exciting, compassionate, fulfilling, or stimulating and what actually IS. The legitimate functions of government sound kind of boring to the untrained ear - protection from crime, national defense, protection of citizens rights, staying out of our way - there's none of the grandeur of liberal dreams: wiping out poverty, banishing disease, ending war and creating eternal peace "not just peace in our time, but peace for all time."
So a majority of Americans have chosen (figuratively speaking) the sexy James Dean type, the guy who made wild romantic promises of liberal utopia and whispered sweet nothings like " tax cuts", "racial healing", "free money", "free stuff", "no more war", "no more partisanship", "perfect harmony and bliss" the rest of us looked on horrified and tried to warn our (collective) friend "what do you see in him?! He breaks his promises, lies to you... his best friends are all radicals, communists and terrorists. I mean - HELLO?" - but they weren't ready to hear it. Now all Democrats partisan dreams have come true; they've got the Presidency and a numerically unassailable Congressional majority, they started out with tons of idealism and good will but - like a spoiled brat who was set up in a penthouse with plenty of daddy's money, all the right connections and had success all but handed to him on a silver platter but couldn't acheive it because he went for a drunken joy ride, crashed his daddy's Porsche, blamed the other guy, and now wants the keys again - liberals have squandered their political capital and are quickly losing credibility. The question is have they lost enough? Not yet. Not as Obama's numbers creep up backwards 50%. America has had a moment of clarity - but will it sink in. Will the overwhelming majority of us GET IT - meaning recognition that "liberalism" is deeply and inherently misguided and wrong?
Over the past 8 years Bush has made a lot of mistakes - but there's also been a lot of things that were great. No terrorist attacks, outstanding progress in Iraq, a strong economy (prior to the Democrats taking Congress) Why were all these things taken for granted? Again, there are many reasons but I suspect it has a lot to do with having Republicans in power - either in the White House or in Congress - almost continuously from 1980-2008. A lot of folks didn't realize the Democats were so far out in left field because (with the exception of 92-94) conservatives have kept them in check. For those of us in our 20's and 30's the "conservative interlude" is pretty much all we've ever known. " Without knowing what came before - it's easy not to recognize its contribution. Since Republicans were in power - the media can of course blame any problems on them - and suggest the fantasy that if only Democrats weren't impeded from the good they want to do...
People appreciate the actual, realistic and appropriate accomplishments of legitimate, effective government when they've suffered the lack of it. One of my first thoughts about NYC after moving here in 2000 was "these people are really into their mayor". Practically couldn't walk down the street without hearing a testimonial. It'd be like " Hey, can you tell me how to get to Times Square?" "Go down to 8th Ave and take a left, but let me tell you - you would'nt have even wanted to go to Times Square before GIULIANI cleaned up the city"
I'm exaggerating, obviously, but there really was a lot of good will - cab drivers, the guys in the deli, people in my building, people I worked with couldn't seemed to help telling me how happy they were with ol' Rudy. Why such enthusiasm? Did he calm the oceans? Shower the city with neverending wealth? Stop "global warming"? Of course not. There may have been many reasons but mainly "You wouldn't have wanted to live in pre-Giuliani New York".
As a newbie, I didn't have an opinion on how the city was run - I recognized that I could walk down the street without being mugged, raped or killed. I wasn't surrounded by porn shops, prostitutes, pimps and drug addicts but I didn't particularly occur to me to credit the mayor or even the police force. Those who had seen New York before the crime drop had a totally different perspective. They recognized that the negative accomplishment of not having a lot of crime - was really quite important. It wasn't "just a bunch of negative rights" it was life without the tyranny of crime ridden streets.
Here's to hoping that Americans REALLY "get it" as in, get back to basics and many liberals seriously rethink a lot of wrong assumptions about the role of government.