Call me cynical (who, me?), but everyone talking about how the country has experienced such a wondrous, miraculous sea change in its outlook and values is mostly full of crap. Yes, it's a great thing that Congress now has a different leadership and balance of power -- and hopefully this will change the tone of the legislation that gets considered and/or passed.
All in all, it seems unlikely that the number of voters swayed
by the Macacagate affair was less than the 7,000 margin. And if that is right, then the control of the US Senate and thus the entire legislature may have been turned over to a different party because of one thoughtless nickname choice by a tired and irritated candidate. (That's not an exculpation, by the way. Tired and irritable he was, but reprehensible nonetheless.) It was surely one of the biggest consequences of an on-the-fly nickname choice in all of history. Watch your mouth, politicians. It's a linguistic jungle out there.
However, plenty of the Democrats who gained seats had to do so by being just as anti-abortion, anti-gay-marriage, and anti-tax-and-spend as any Republican ever was. The truth is, huge swaths of this country will probably never be "liberal," and those of us living in coastal enclaves cannot assume that because Virginians or rural Pennsylvanians booted their Repubs out means that they'll ever come close to embracing our leftist selves.
Sure, I'm happy: who'd have guessed that South Dakotans would vote against their abortion ban and Arizonans would defeat their anti-gay-marriage amendment. Except those "victories" mostly seem like sighs of relief that the respective populations haven't gone totally off the deep end. It just still sucks to have to claw onto "anything we can get" instead of being able to make real "progress."