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Are Any Civic-Minded Conversations Underway?

CBSNews.com Rounds Up the Most Embarrassing, Controversial, and Inflammatory Remarks of the 2010 Election Season
What, if any, civic-minded conversations are under way out there?
And so another election season comes to an end. In Ohio and Illinois, in Wisconsin and Iowa, I have traversed the nation's heartland yet again.

I've beheld the Republican exuberance of 2010 and can contrast it starkly with the GOP doldrums that existed in 2006.

I have seen the Democrats rebound in 2008 and watched in astonishment as they forgot how to fight back two years later.

Why is it that Nancy Pelosi is such a lightning rod for criticism from the right but Sarah Palin is an icon? She may be misguided, but Pelosi is demonstratively smart and capable. Is that what riles the right? Even Republicans reject Palin as presidential timber, so why her enduring popularity/impact?

I have heard the Republican crowds scream for tax cuts without a second thought to how that might translate into fewer services, poorer schools, bumpier roads.

I have listened to the Democrats argue that now is the time (now is always the time with Democrats) to finish the New Deal and to get the country moving again, in the words of JFK. It will be wonderful and it evidently will be free -- over time.

I've never heard the Republicans talk of the spending cuts they want with any specificity. And I have seldom heard a Democrat to acknowledge that tax increases were wasted.

No. As I fly from Cincinnati to Chicago in the hours before the vote, I look out the window at the lights flickering below and wonder what, if any, civic-minded conversations are under way. Are the people thinking about the future of the country or are they watching Monday Night Football and trying to escape the nightmare of 10 percent unemployment?

I hope they're thinking. If ever there was a time to think, now is it.

  • Dean Reynolds

    Dean Reynolds is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Chicago.