Some thoughts on the tired arguments and conventional “wisdom” we’ve heard surrounding Tuesday’s elections so far:

1. Voters threw a temper tantrum. This comes usually from angry Democrats – which is hilarious all by itself. The analogy originates from Peter Jennings’ famous reaction to the 1994 Gingrich revolution, “Imagine a nation full of uncontrolled two-year-old rage. The voters had a temper tantrum last week;” as if anti-war protesters with “Bush is a Nazi” signs and rage against the Iraq war were somehow less angry reactions. Democracy is always an emotional affair – especially in hard times. This is why terms and elections are staggered, judges and justices are appointed, terms are limited, powers are dispersed through several branches, etc. The point of a republic is to balance the indispensable right of the people to determine their government with the danger that voters will overreact to circumstances too impatiently or beyond their government’s control. Tuesday’s elections brought us a conservative House (the most reactionary and democratic branch of government), a divided Senate and the same president we asked for in 2008. Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both went through very similar electoral reactions as Obama himself pointed out. We will soon learn what this president is truly made of.

2. Obama hasn’t had enough time to turn things around. This one usually features statements such as: “Let’s see the Republicans fix things now.” or “Voters are too impatient with the president.” I would remind people of two things. First, Barack Obama is still the president. He hasn’t been fired. Yet. Second, the president has had two years with which he has made things worse in the eyes of many observers. The right will never support this president because of his ideology but many even on the left are angry with him and independents have reacted like someone who ordered a Playstation 3 on Amazon and instead received a toaster in the mail. There’s disillusionment not just with results but with actions which many voters did not expect this president to take. How Obama responds to this discontent will determine if he gets a second term.

3. The Tea Party negatively impacted the election for Republicans. This is a popular one. The best part of Tuesday’s election in my mind is that the electorate in most cases stuck to the Tea Party theme when the candidates were serious and formidable (Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, Nikki Hayley) while rejecting the less serious or more reactionary products of the movement (Linda McMahon, Christine O’Donnell, Sharron Angle, Carl Paladino). Without the Tea Party, there is no Republican wave at all. As with any grassroots movement, the Tea Party brought some interesting characters to the table. These elections certainly moved government to the right but even amidst the passionate mood, certain reactionary candidates were sent home. It shows that while voters were clearly angry and dissatisfied they are more rational than they get credit for in the general news media.

4. Many Republicans see losing the Senate as a negative. There wasn’t much of a chance for them to win it in the first place and who wants Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer? Further, government works best when both parties have a clear voice in government. If we have to have Democrats, the Senate is the best place to have them. It’s less reactionary and more deliberate due to longer terms and larger representative communities. From a political perspective, the Republicans still have a voice but they won’t have the vast, ridiculous power that Democrats have had for the past 2 years. In January, I wondered, “Will there be any Democrats left in 2012?” The answer – fortunately for America – is clearly yes.

5. Tuesday’s election radicalized the Congress by forcing out mostly moderate Democrats. Perhaps there is some substance to this premise but it seems we’ve heard this before. Remember when the Tea Party movement was going to make Republicans more radical and destroy the party in the general election? This proved to be spectacularly wrong. One notable product of “radical” parties being forced to work together is the US Constitution. Americans work best when they disagree passionately and nobody gets exactly what they want. This is by design as one of the best functions of our republic is that it takes radical, raw, bold ideas and tempers them through a system of compromise to produce good policy. We’ve been doing it for over 200 years and Tuesday’s election demonstrated that once again, we’re not satisfied. Here’s hoping we never will be.