It didn't take long before the post-election commentary began to sound a lot like the pre-election campaigning: Blah, blah, blah.
Pick your commentator, but the moment came for me when an NPR expert explained the outcome of the primaries by saying that voters are now quicker to pull the trigger. If they don't get what they want, fickle voters switch to a new candidate or party without hesitation, he opined.
The Democrats blame the Republicans, the Republicans blame the Dems, the mainstreamers on both sides blame the Tea Party and now, long-suffering voters are painted as fickle.
Long-suffering, we are.
This isn't a screed on how elected officials are all a bunch of worthless bums. I've been privileged to see many of them up much closer than most voters and there are true public servants among them.
But I have also seen many, many candidates up a lot closer than most voters ever will. Through those hundreds of hours of candidate interviews it became clear that, for way too many, their most fundamental values had nothing to do with family or the size of government or personal liberty or national security.
The most fundamental value they held was getting elected.
How else do you explain that otherwise intelligent people yammer on about the definition of marriage, are incapable of expressing even the slightest doubt about the unalloyed benefits of coal, praise education and refuse to be realistic about what it costs, pretend that Kentucky will miraculously stop being one of the poorest states in the nation through the benefits of — pick one — tourism, call centers, gambling, industrial parks, asphalt?
Voters are fickle? I don't think so. I think they're heart-wrenchingly hopeful. They keep hoping that someone, sometime will have a higher goal than to be re-elected or step up to the next rung on the electoral ladder.
It's no surprise that Trey Grayson, a smart, likeable, honest guy who had paid his Republican dues, got trounced by Rand Paul. Grayson was the choice of a Republican establishment that seems bent on accruing power to thwart Democratic power.
Who wants to pay taxes to support that? It feels more like a parlor game played by a very few for the benefit of a slightly larger few than it does an honest attempt at making policy for the public.
Personally, what I find perplexing about the politics of self-perpetuation is that it seems like such a lousy way to make a living.
A wise friend once wondered aloud why anyone would go to all the trouble of getting elected to do nothing. Beats me. Sounds like a terrible job. Always temporizing, trying to take credit for things you know you didn't do, blaming other people or parties or branches of government. Knowing that so much of what comes out of your mouth won't really mean much more than blah, blah.
Isn't accomplishing nothing a worse fate than losing an election?
I'm not so naïve as to think that every officeholder should or could realistically make every decision based on what is absolutely the best thing for constituents. On the Urban County Council, it takes eight votes to pass an ordinance. A majority in the U.S. Senate is 51 (really 60 to break a filibuster), and in the House of Representatives it's 218.
There's got to be some trading, some compromising, some waiting for the right moment.
But that moment has to come.