In any normal country, there would be no particular reason to expect 2013 to be an awful year. The right-wing Presidential candidate, who preached austerity, family values, and military adventurism, was soundly defeated by the center-left candidate, who favored, well, austerity-lite, personal freedom, and a fiscally convenient “peace dividend.” Overconfident and overfunded Republicans were similarly trounced in the House and Senate, losing seats in both despite stunning structural advantages.

It seemed that the Right’s perennial hobby horses, from favoring the wealthiest above all others and demonizing minorities of every type, to demanding that every non-military expenditure be slashed to the bone, had clearly been sent to the glue factory by the electorate. Alas, things are never what they seem in Washington.