The one truism that I kept hearing during my brief sallies onto the campaign trail was, "Well, this is all very exciting, but you should have seen it in 2008.”
You would point up at the moon, and they would sigh, “Well, four years ago....”
You would express trace amounts of excitement at a passing poll, and they would chuckle dismissively. “It’s nothing like the Great Year of the Mandate, when everything mattered, and we all cut our teeth!” I’m not even sure what the expression “cut one’s teeth” means, at least not when it comes to the campaign trail.
So what struck me about tonight’s election was how right they were.
In the end, all the obvious races came to their obvious conclusions. Todd Akin and the foot he had legitimately inserted into his mouth fell to Claire McCaskill in Missouri’s Senate race. Tim Kaine prevailed in Virginia.
Even the less-than-obvious races met the more obvious ends, as Elizabeth Warren chugged ahead in Massachusetts.
FOX News’s anchors managed a brief mutiny against the slow onslaught of reality, but Nate Silver and the dull predictability of his numbers prevailed. Yes, the likely thing happened. Even the horserace is losing its appeal. Math? Science? Reality? Who thought to introduce these elements? There’s a whole hype industry at stake!
We could see the pulleys, and it did nothing for the performance.
This was just like 2008, but slightly tarnished. As an electorate, we’re chastened; encouraged in some carefully-targeted areas, but disappointed in others.
This was, frankly, a disappointing sequel. It was, to date myself, The Matrix: Reloaded — all the same special effects, but none of the magic. We knew where the rabbit hole was leading. Election 2008 was vague, but at least it was hopeful. Election 2012 lacked specifics, but we saw they were missing.
Now it's all over. Sure, there is dancing in the streest. There is excitement. But just as incumbents seldom lose, it is hard to get really, truly excited about an incumbent. We’ve lived together the past four years. This night is a milestone, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
2008 was better.