Insufficient time between election and this column prevented a thorough analysis of what the results meant. Space isn't available to adequately analyze local, state and federal races. Since there's more time for state, let's handle federal and local, since Congress has gone back to work.
Despite grievances like expanding government, runaway spending and health care reform, the overriding message was that a majority of Americans want positive actions not from dictates of complete one-party rule but from the give and take of mutual cooperation. Either side perceived the next two years as blocking reform passage for partisan advantage will lose big in 2012.
If it is Democrats, President Barack Obama and both houses of Congress lose; if the GOP, it squanders a golden opportunity.
The key was the sometimes feuding tea party organizations (Express, Patriots and Nation). Collectively, they were a net plus, prodding Republicans to act. The major reason the GOP didn't retake the Senate was the tea parties supporting several obviously terrible candidates who either defeated GOP incumbents or failed to defeat Democratic foes when Republican incumbents would have prevailed.
Sarah Palin's worst endorsees may have handed GOP presidential wannabes or the Democrats a key issue against her should she seek or be the nominee. Would that be indicative of the type people she would appoint to important administration posts?
Obama took responsibility for the loss and extended an olive branch to the GOP to see if they can find mutual ground on problems needing solutions before year-end and into the next year. The GOP must not become merely a roadblock but must recognize impregnable blockades, finding a principled way to reach needed agreements.
Perhaps ironically, real progress could benefit Obama by improving the country's condition before he faces voters again. Nonetheless, voters easily can sense today's condition wouldn't have improved had it not been for the GOP taking the House, thereby forcing him to act cooperatively. Only the GOP can take credit for that.
The big question is how will most tea party-backed candidates work within the GOP. Will they see their election as black vs. white and stand firm on campaign pledges, flatly refusing any compromise to get most of what they want? Or will they see it as a commitment to their voters to confront issues as team members with their respective platforms guiding them?
Some winners such as Sen.-elect Dan Coats of Indiana have congressional experience and know the legislative ropes. Some tea-partiers have state legislative experience and have ideas about congressional ropes. Some have absolutely no legislative experience and will find a wide-eyed awakening. How they blend in may tell the whole story.
The GOP, including tea partiers, was given a much larger plate than probably realized. In my next column, I'll compare the lame-duck session proposals outlined in my last column to see how things are working out.
Turning to local, the county commission is going to have a new controlling bloc, led by Ashley Bell joined by newcomers Craig Lutz and Scott Gibbs. Expect it to be more municipal-friendly and cooperatively on some contentious issues such as the Clermont library and water. How Chairman Tom Oliver and Billy Powell ultimately blend in foretells their political futures.
My 2 cents: The Nopone Road location was probably the better location, closer to three times more people. The new board majority believes an implied commitment was made to Clermont and failure to honor it will damage voter confidence in another needed SPLOST. The current commission would save taxpayers money by implementing now what the new board will do. School boards will work smoothly.
Note: Gainesville Theater Alliance improvised quickly to overcome the lead actor's injury only hours before curtain time that prevented his dancing in "Singing in the Rain" Wednesday night.
Ted Oglesby is retired associate and opinion page editor of The Times. His column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com. You can reach him at P.O. Box 663, Gainesville, GA 30503.