Stage two of the Obama era. I’m interested in eras. I’m mostly interested because we’re clearly in some kind of era transition and I’d like to know where we are and where we’re going.

For background, the last two eras were FDR and Reagan. We are now certainly in the Obama Era, and it will, as these things do, likely outlast Obama’s term in office. What defines it? Mostly, so far, just the exhaustion of the Reagan idea. If you want to know what exhaustion looks like, just look at the Republican brand. The driving ideas have played themselves out, and the end-times freneticism/fanaticism is just the late-night over-caffeinated stage of burn-out.

The Obama Era started out with the promise of effective, rational center-left governing. What was missing was enough of the effective part. This was caused mostly by the Warner Bros. Tasmanian Devil the GOP has turned into, and the other problem has been the oxygen-deprived recovery. And while Obama’s re-election cemented the Obama Era into place, we have now entered a second phase, where lame-duckery looms, and a the maturing of the millennial generation in a bound economy is coloring things in yet another hue. What hue? Remains to be seen.

In foreign affairs, we are right in the middle of the swamp. Swamps can be big and unending, but I’m guessing we are about to break out into some quite identifiable new trajectory. For better or worse.

Politically, the GOP will persist in its crazy ways until the rich decide that there have to be national priorities other than tax cuts for themselves. In other words, maybe forever. But make no mistake, this is the single political objective that makes the GOP willing and financially able to persist in its current state of insanity.

Culturally, here’s one other thing I will be watching for. Can we have just a BRIEF break from devices and app mania? The technological revolution continues, and continues to accelerate. Yes, new products will continue to dazzle and distract. But I still hold out some small hope that some temporary exhaustion and disillusionment with The Virtual lurks, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if it manifested itself somewhere, somehow. Life HAS to be more than gadgets. I hold out hope, but won’t hold my breath.