Nothing is sedate about American elections and nothing is civil about candidates this go-around.
Mid-term elections this year also represent more of everything—and mostly more of the unwelcome.
To name a few:
l More campaign spending: $3 billion when all the bills are in, compared to $2.7 billion in 2008 when a president was elected.
l More secret donors, since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in January that corporations have the same rights as humans in donating to campaigns.
l More ugliness: Sarah Palin called news media "corrupt bastards"; aides to California gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown suggested that his GOP rival Meg Whitman should be called a "whore"; a female Democratic Kentucky activist was thrown to the ground by three men, then stomped on by an aide to U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul; Democratic congressional district office windows smashed; Republican leaders threaten "no compromises" with President Obama; one candidate promises impeachment of Obama; New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino threatened to "take out" a reporter; Nevada's GOPer Sharron Angle suggests "Second Amendment" remedies for reforming government.
l More whoppers. The wildest and latest: GOP Arizona congressional candidate accuses President Obama of busing Mexicans across the border to vote, then busing them home.
l More bio falsehoods: Candidates in Illinois and Connecticut post fictional military credentials; GOP candidate Christine O'Donnell claims nonexistent college background.
l More backward thinking: Talk in Texas of "seceding" from the Union; candidates want to repeal the Constitution's 14th (citizenship due to birth) and 17th (direct election of senators) amendments, ratified in 1868 and 1913 respectively, and dispose of the Internal Revenue Service.
l More gullible voters: Millions of voters marching under the banner of smaller, less expensive government are willing fools for billionaires and corporations whose idea of less government is less regulation of industries and cheaper government is less tax on their wealth.
l More unprepared candidates: Some congressional candidates calling themselves "constitutional conservatives" advocate abolishing federal agencies not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution and that didn't exist when the Constitution was written by the founders.
Radical ideas won't get very far. The president still has his veto pen, and level-headed Republicans will torpedo far-out proposals of freshmen legislators.
The biggest burden will be on President Obama. While juggling killer employment and economic problems plus bloody chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention delivering on his promise to open the military to gays, he must build a persona as a decisive leader entitled to a second term.
On that, not everyone is betting "yes he can."