No one could have foreseen it, but the end of the year is upon us, and an agreement to avert the fiscal cliff is not in place. We all kind of knew that Congress was not working properly, that it had quantitatively passed fewer laws and qualitatively reached less agreement than the infamous do-nothing Congress of the Truman administration. Now we have concrete evidence. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Congress has failed, as Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake observe. Maybe it’s because they lack individual incentives to function as a group. Maybe it’s because they reflect our degraded discourse. Maybe it’s because one party has defined itself in opposition to the political system even as it does everything it can to become the most part of it. I don’t know, but the result is clear and incontrovertible.
It is also maybe not such a big deal. Chances are, the federal government will stay its hand before it pushes the knife all the way into itself. The stock market will freak out, but chances are the changes in our tax code will be undone before April arrives. Spending will likely be uncut, too, before it has a chance to wreck the economy. And, more importantly, the world does not begin and end at the doors to the United States capital. As much as we like to forget it around here, there is more to life than politics. There is even more to life than politics and culture. A new year is upon us, and the future is unwritten, as always. The recent future—better known as the past—was written poorly. But an author is measured by the sum of his successes, not his average, and tomorrow is a clean white sheet. Take up your pen, gentle reader, and drive it forward in to the quivering eyeball of your dreams. Or keep doing whatever and saying you’ll fix everything later. Dealer’s choice.