In all of the sadly predictable hype, excuses, and speculation which followed last week's election, one reality mostly got left out of the mix. That being that the American people are very nervous. Beyond scared in fact.
So scared that they were willing to take a flyer on some unknown, untested, and inexperienced candidates. Of course, some would argue — myself included — that such a strategy gave them a president clearly over his head and flailing for help. Regardless, panic, a growing sense of doom and false hope make some desperate to gamble on the unknown. Especially when they are certain that the "known" is a bunch of self-serving politicians who have been heaping nothing but corrosive fertilizer upon their heads for years.
Because they are incredibly frightened for their future as well as that of their children, many Americans took a leap of faith and voted for the un-spin, the semi-pragmatic, or even the shred of truth buried within the talking points of out-of-touch political machines seeking to protect their turf. What other choice do they have? Unless Superman or Batman materialize in Times Square, who have they really got? Only what's offered to them by the machines or those few who have separated themselves from the entrenched establishment. Slim pickings at best.
The American people are rarely given the credit they deserve by their elected "leaders." They know the unemployment rate is in reality, much higher than the 9.6 percent advertised. They fully understand that many of the jobs lost will never come back. They know that there are a number of ticking mega-debt bombs out there that are about to go off and implode their towns, their cities, their counties, and their states.
They get that. They have eyes, they have ears, and they have voices. They speak to each other, and they do see the blinding flash of the obvious. But with that acknowledgement of an impending crippling catastrophe comes the shocking realization that their "leaders" are purposefully ignoring it for fleeting partisan gain.
They see this, but most still can't believe it. "Surely," they think, "our leaders will lift their heads in time and stop this partisan-fueled march to extinction."
Others have concluded that such a day will never come. That our current system is hopelessly corrupt. To Abraham Lincoln's point, "If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem," our "leaders" have now forfeited that confidence countless times. Many Americans are starting to realize that the very heavy burden of leadership now rests upon them.
Despite the hype, despite the excuses, and despite the speculation, come January when the "new" Congress goes to work, most Americans expect to see the same old fertilizer being shoveled atop them by basically the same old gang. And when that does happen, my guess is, that will be the breaking point. That will be the tipping point.
The American people are scared. They are angry. They do feel like suckers for putting their faith and fortune in the hands of a bunch of selfish political hacks. Millions of parents now firmly believe that for the first time in generations, their children are going to have it worse than them. Potentially much worse.
Now awoken to this preventable reality, they are speaking more and more to each other and are starting to take matters into their own hands. The American people are now demanding more choices.
They are now willing to manufacture more choices. Be those choices an official tea party candidate for president, a Michael Bloomberg type self-financed "moderate," or just a "commonsense party for survival."
They will do something. They will take their lives and destiny back as they feel they have been given no alternative. That is the real news buried in the results of this election.
Douglas MacKinnon was press secretary to former Sen. Bob Dole and is a former White House and Pentagon official and a novelist. His e-mail is email@example.com.