Americans are noted for their impatience. Many have grown up watching huge problems resolved in an hour's time on a television show, or at most through a pair of two-hour specials. So some get the notion that we are endowed with a push-button that works miracles with ease.
We already are seeing and hearing from fellow citizens at all levels who think that, because there was a major governmental shakeup following the recent elections, we can expect all sorts of problems to be solved speedily. That's not the way life is.
Despite the best of intentions by both victory-flushed Democrats and uneasy, ruffled Republicans, it is going to take time to change the courses that so many want altered. The departure of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld might be a sizable factor in reassessing our involvement in Iraq, but there are countless issues to consider and great need for statesmanship and compromise by both major parties and President George W. Bush.
The current Congress personnel is the same as it was before the voting. Jockeying for U.S. House leadership races already has exposed divisions in both parties. Those who managed to oust incumbents don't even take their seats for a while, and there is little likelihood that all interim dealings will be selfless and magnanimous.
Before the elections, Republican practices and policies were assailed by the "outs," who claimed they could devise better answers to our problems. Now the pressure is on the newcomers to justify their support. It behooves the losers to try to do the right rather than the political thing.
Analysts say the "turnover" by the electorate was not so much a vote FOR the challengers as a rejection of what has been going on in the war and the immoral and corrupt activity by some in Congress, often Republicans.
Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker-to-be, has promised "the most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history." How many times have we heard some version of that pledge, and how often have we been disappointed?
There are not likely to be overnight solutions to our most important challenges; we will not be well-served by hair-trigger, harsh, hare-brained reactionaries. But there is a climate in which a great deal of needed and important things can be accomplished.
Congressional inhabitants need to look more and more "across the aisle" and see how they can accomplish what is best for America. President Bush needs to be flexible, listen to good advice, and become the catalyst for changes that need to be made. Big hurdles loom, but the climate is ripe for leaders to guide America back onto the track where it wants and needs to be.