Excitement and exhaustion
I share your feeling about the energy surrounding Rand Paul's filibuster, Ace. Not to be a wet blanket, but I also remember how that Tea Party energy faded by 2012. It's not gone completely and never has been, but it's hard not to notice the very sharp contrast between the 2010 and 2012 electorates. Depending on how much weight you want to assign to various exit-poll results, you had a combination of the Tea Party fire guttering low, and the zombie hordes of Obama supporters marching listlessly to vote in droves for a candidate who didn't really excite them. It didn't matter that a lot of them were yawning when they pulled the lever for Obama. "Meh" votes count the same as "oh, yeah!" votes.
And so, on Election Night, we watched blue mushroom clouds erupt from big-city machines and rise into the stratosphere over a sea of red counties. The Tea Party energy that moved Heaven and Earth to launch a revolution against Obama's over-reach, over-spending, and under-cooked health care scheme in 2010 flagged at the precise moment when it could have ushered him out of office.
Is that all the fault of Mitt Romney and/or his campaign team? Some of it, to be sure. But I wonder if a lot of it didn't come from sheer electoral ennui, which always favors the Big Government types. It's not difficult to get the Takers excited about the next round of "free" lollipops, even if a lot of those promises never come to fruition. It's not hard to use a little campaign razzle-dazzle and moral intimidation to march a winning mass of dispirited voters to pull the lever for a self-declared messiah, against the backdrop of an incomprehensible, predatory world that is forever looking to devour the Little Guy. Despair is the meat and drink of the Left. They've dispensed so much of it that when a hard-charging get-up-and-go capitalist and philanthropist spoke to them about the glory of opportunities voluntarily pursued by free people, a sizable chunk of the electorate responded by barking in disbelief. "Julia" thinks talk of opportunity is code for throwing her to the wolves. She wants that cushy web-design job and fatherless baby Obama promised her.
It's great to see people like Rand Paul and his filibuster posse bringing some real excitement and conviction to Capitol Hill. It went bipartisan, and produced a lot of sound bites that will give Obama's permanent campaign team indigestion. It came at a moment when a lot of people are getting mighty sick and tired of hearing a cash-hungry President lecture them about the need to insert another pile of quarters in his coin-operated government, if they want their White House tours and meat inspectors back. Can it be sustained long enough to shift the terrain of the 2014 midterms and 2016 presidential election? I think Rand Paul is a careful student of the previous failures to accomplish that. I wonder how much the character of the democratic Republic he's addressing has changed, and whether good working order is possible, absent a few apocalyptic wake-up calls.