There is a strangeness in Washington as we return to the two-party system. Like Moses leading his people in the wilderness, the Democrats are slowly returning to power. Was it any different in 1994 when the tables were turned?
The conservatives say, at least in some circles, that the Republican defeat was not all that bad and in two years the people will come to their senses and re-elect a Republican government like we've had since 2000. Perhaps. But, that's not the interesting story.
For two years, we will have a different voice in Congress and this will be a chance for the Democrats to re-frame the issues.
I think of when Rush Limbaugh could be a foil against a Democrat Congress, or at least against President Clinton, and though he had his own personal problems, I think what really killed it for him was that the Republicans got into power. His rage really had no place to go, except kicking the people who weren't in power.
Now the strangeness comes back. The two-party system might have a chance, and two of the first losers are Steven Colbert of the "Colbert Report," and to some extent Kos of "The Daily Kos." "Does their schtick still work?" asked a friend. The Daily Show is not as invested as Kos and Colbert in the brand of anger in the case of Kos and humor in the case of Colbert.
I don't go to Kos any more, but I have peeked in on and off, more on than off, on Colbert, and suddenly his feigned right-wing stance falls flat. Nothing against Steve. It's just that in a matter of a week, the entire humor base has shifted along with the power base. In the case of Colbert, his humor worked when the Republicans were the only party in real power and his feigned support was great counterpoint. Now the Republicans are a minority in Congress (slim though it may be) and the President is a lame duck. Not as funny to be a feigned zealot.
Colbert and Kos suffer the fall out. Their base has a place to go for real power, just as Rush found out.
We'll see where Washington goes in the next several months, but the new balance of power has unexpected consequences in the strangest of ways.