In some ways, what we got this time is what democracy is supposed to be. Contention. Voices raised in argument both logical and partisan. Debate.
Given a historical perspective, I'm not necessarily sure I see this brawling, mud-slinging, name-calling, savagely hypocritical campaign season as a loss. It has people interested. It has people--some people, at least, if not enough of them--thinking.
Things really weren't more polite in yesteryear. There's been a lot of talk about how deeply divided the country is, how we're enmeshed in a culture war, on the verge of a not-so-civil one. A lot of talk about how far apart we stand, and how the country's going to hell in a handbasket, and how we're tearing ourselves apart at the seams, and No Good Can Come Of This.
The funny thing is, I prefer the world of 1975 to the world of 1965.
Upheaval is not always bad. Conflict is not always bad. Getting really fucking pissed off and screaming at the top of your lungs, change this or else! is not necessarily bad. Weird times make for great states(wo)men. Great arguers, and great compromisers.
We've been here before. Social Darwinism, the Great Depression, McCarthyism. Each of which resulted in another tic upward on the ladder of social change, a correction, as it were.
Democracies are like drunks. We don't start to get better until we hit bottom. So, personally, I'm not all that sure the recent lack of canings on the Senate floor is a good thing.
I think it indicates a breakdown in vigorous discourse.