Politics is much more simpler when you assume that one person can order something done, and it happens.
This, however, is a Democracy, so everything's caught up in the effects of complexity, both in terms of the society that elects voters, and the Congress and President voters elect. The dynamics of our institutions are by their nature complex, and sometimes frustratingly so.
We would like to respond to the political world as if it's situations were just the sum of all those thousands of individual issues, but the reality is, our system is more than the sum of its parts.
What's more, our politics deals with issues that are themselves complex enough to behave as more than just the reducible sum of their parts. Our economy's like that. So's the media environment, especially now we've got the internet and its great density and lateral complexity of structure.
As such, even before these times, but especially now, we are faced with a situation where if we don't deal with the higher level of political complexity, we might just find our policies set back quite a ways.
We cannot have a good discussion of individual policies without discussing how we prioritize different policy aims, and how we decide which course to take in our rhetoric and our philosophies.
We call it meta because it's not about one event or one bill or one article, because it's about what we think about politics overall, and it's disparaged as being somehow inferior to the harder stuff. However, if we don't deal with the higher-level issues of how we're dealing with politics, I think we can miss the forest for the trees, and end up in situations like our current one, where we overburdened an unconsolidated pair of wins with greater expectations than an informed look at the people involved would merit.
We expected our politicians, the same politicians, mostly, who helped Bush pass his tax cuts and start his war out of fear of the right, to suddenly be more confident and more willing to stand up to the Republicans. We confused our confidence, our willingness to pick a fight with the Republicans and throw them back with our politician's, and were too complacent to recognize that the exterior threat of the Republicans pushing back was more pressing than the internal fight over policy, than in fact, the conditions that aggravated that fight were deliberately set by the GOP for that purpose. The Republicans needed Democrat's political support to self-destruct, and we obliged.
We cannot win against the GOP merely on the basis of our individual policy stances. It is important to keep the larger vision alive, and persistent despite the setbacks, self-inflicted and inflicted from without.
We need to be thinking on a meta level, because the meta level of politics is where this fight is taking place.