09/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Taking the Long View

Deep breaths, folks. Deep breaths.

During the campaign, we were a lot like this. It didn't matter that Obama was consistently walloping McCain in the polls, or that our most credible political analysts were predicting a landslide. It didn't matter. Everywhere you'd go, wherever Democrats were hanging out, they'd be working each other into a serious freak-out session.

"Oh my God, he picked Sarah Palin, it's over." Don't pretend you didn't say it.

"I know I know, it all looks good, but something is going to go wrong; something always goes wrong." You said that, too.

It's really one of our most endearing qualities. When anyone anywhere speculates for any period of time about some far-off possible doom for Democrats, we gather around, all of us, and collectively panic.

But, I promise you, fellow anxiety-driven friends, now is not the time to panic. Now is the time to start taking the long view.

The 24-hour news cycle, the minute-by-minute blogosphere, all of it gives the impression that any single day, any single minute, is critically important. You see a bad story one day and assume the game's over. Viewers watching MSNBC last week heard Contessa Brewer and Dylan Ratigan talking about whether or not the Republican party was poised to make a huge comeback in the 2010 midterms. The discussion centered around new polling that showed Congress at a staggeringly low 24 percent approval rating -- the lowest recording of the year.

If Democrats are this disliked, a Republican resurgence is inevitable, right? Right?

Of course, neither anchor mentioned that Congress pretty much always polls that low, that it was polling that low in 2008, when Democrats managed to win a second consecutive landslide. Or more importantly, that the way people feel about Congress in July 2009 is probably the least explanatory variable one can come up with for how people will vote for their representative in November 2010. I mean, really, you might as well use a Magic Eight Ball.

Still, watch a segment like that on a Thursday in July, and you're ready to start packing for Canada again. I know, I get it.

And maybe there's nothing I can say that will make you feel any better about all of this; maybe it's the plight of Democrats, prisoners of a self-loathing neuroses that's just so quintessentially left. But if you can take a step back, if you can stop obsessing over the short term, just for a minute or two, you'll see that the longer view is really a much better one.

Look at health care. What a mess, right? Except that, more or less, this is going according to plan. The roadblocks we've faced thus far were largely expected, as were the deals brokered. By the end of the year, it's very likely that we'll have a bill, and that it will be the most significant change to the health care system since Medicare.

And then there's the economy. I know, you hear Republicans talking about deficit spending, and calling this "Obama's economy," and you think, damn, that sounds pretty effective, we're probably screwed. But stop thinking about what the economy looks like today, for today, and start thinking about what it will mean for tomorrow.

The Dow is hanging out above 9,000 now. Great news. The GDP loss is shrinking, and most think the economy will start growing again. Even better. Allan Greenspan just said he was pretty sure we've seen the bottom. Tim Geithner said there is zero chance of financial collapse. USA Today reported that the surge in stimulus spending offset huge losses at the state and local level. Cash for clunkers was incredibly successful. Things are getting better, and they will continue to get better. Republicans knew that their only chance to beat Obama was for the economy to collapse and for Obama to be blamed. But guess what folks, all indicators say that just isn't going to happen.

I know it's tempting to draw conclusions from Obama's approval ratings on any given day or week, that the ebb and flow of positive and negative stories can cloud the view of what's happening. But step back for a second and take a deep breath. Things are going to be just fine.

Democrats will probably lose a few seats in the House, sure, but we'll probably net a few more in the Senate, and in both cases we'll continue to hold our majority. Plus, those seats we're likely to lose are Blue Dog Democrats from extremely conservative districts. And those guys have been driving you nuts anyway. So cheer up!

We've got a great shot at getting a health care bill. The economy is healing. The GOP is morphing into a party of the fringe.

This isn't a time for panic; it's a time for some seriously hopeful optimism. Just try taking the long view.