I've been feeling more and more lately that American politics bear an uncanny resemblance to Newton's third law: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Action: 2004: Americans re-elect Bush.
Reaction: 2006: Americans, fed up with Republicans, elect a Democratic house and senate and in 2008, Americans elect a Democratic president largely based on his mantra of "change".
Reaction: 2010: Americans, perceiving the passage of health care legislation and the bail-out bill to be too much enlargement of government, take to the streets as members of the tea-party, and oust proven, effective conservatives like Bob Bennett. (If the tea party gets their way and elects some of the more radical people they support, where do they think this is going to end up in 2012 or 2014?)
Maybe it's the inherent nature of the two-party system. It creates the illusion that life is a series of either/or choices. So it's either McCain or Obama, universal health-care or the party of "no", unenforced immigration law or a racial-profiling police state.
What saddens me is watching the way that ordinary Americans are playing into the politicians' game: because the argument is presented to us as an either/or scenario, we feel we must take one of the proposed sides. Americans, take back your opinions! Frame the argument on your terms, beyond ideology and name-calling. People can have concerns about immigration and long for reform without being racist; likewise, teachers can teach in Spanish and feel the need for ethnic studies without being communist propagandists. Convenient as it is to have someone else with more political expertise and eloquence to frame our political arguments for us, this weakens my most beloved of American ideals--freedom of thought, the necessary prerequisite to the first amendment.