Some of my colleagues in the pundit business have become unhinged by the election results. The always diverting Maureen Dowd of the New York Times suggested the other day that "the forces of darkness" are taking over the country. The voters' confirmation of Republican-led government brings with it "a scary, paranoid, regressive reality," Dowd said, with "strains of isolationism, nativism, chauvinism, puritanism and religious fanaticism." After a campaign of "blatant distortions and character assassination," Republicans have returned to Washington bent on "messing with our psyches" and punishing "society's most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the sexually different."
I know that many agree with that view. But before throwing yourself over a cliff or emigrating to Sweden, consider a couple of things.
George W. Bush was reelected by 51 percent of the people. His first significant action following Election Day was to retain Andrew Card, a Massachusetts-based business moderate, as his chief of staff.
His second was to accept the resignation of John Ashcroft, the hero of the religious right and the favorite bogeyman of civil libertarians, as attorney general. Ashcroft's replacement, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, will receive close scrutiny from Democratic senators, but almost all of them who commented said they welcomed the choice.
That's a funny way to start "another dark age."
Republicans will hold 55 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Among them are many, including such conservatives as Pat Roberts and Thad Cochran, whom I would trust to defend my journalistic freedom -- or Dowd's -- no matter how much they disagreed with what we wrote. I can count two dozen Senate Republicans who have experienced with their own families and friends the pain of mental or physical illness, or poverty, or racial or sexual discrimination.
Do you think they would stand silent while a vendetta against any of those groups was carried out?