The bloodbath is over. Now comes the fun part: recrimination time! So let's get it over with, shall we?
THIRD WAY: "We need corporatist policies!"
PROGRESSIVES: "Dems weren't progressive enough!"
While those inevitable theatrics are all amusing, it might be worth examining a simpler reality:
Scared, angry voters kicked out the party in power three election cycles in a row.
The biggest difference between 2010 and 1994 is that there was no huge electoral shift in 1990 and 1992. Sure, we elected a Democratic President in 1992, but Bill Clinton vs. Bush Senior isn't exactly the same as Bush Junior vs. black guy named Hussein.
The reality is that Americans who are not firmly in one partisan camp or another are evidently far angrier, far more distressed, far more anxious, and far less patient than most people on either side of the aisle want to admit. They're not exactly ideological, and they're not loyal. If one set of people can't fix the problem, they'll try the next set. And the next set. And the next set.
Ultimately, this nervous wreck of a nation is craving solutions and leadership. The failure of the Democrats over the last two years was in thinking that voters wanted basic competence. They didn't. They wanted their leaders to swoop in and solve problems they don't understand, and that seem intractable.
This is a more dangerous and volatile situation than most realize. Democracies become highly unstable given high income inequality, and the consequences are nearly always bad.
This election isn't the end of the world. In 2012, voters may swing wildly back our way. Or not. What we do know is that the electorate is in a very unstable place right now. But the first set of leaders to offer palpable solutions rather than political pabulum to America's economic insecurities will be the ones who prevail.
Let's hope that those leaders are more scrupulous and honest than Godwin and good taste might otherwise permit.