There is no real cliff.
The only cliff is the one created by the imagination of the lemmings now running toward it.
“Just Outside the Box” published a cartoon of a group of lemmings running toward the cliff. One of them has turned back to run from the cliff. One of the lemmings asks, “Why’s he going in the opposite direction from us?” to which another replies, “Don’t worry about him. He’s the black sheep in the family.”
There never has been a real fiscal cliff. The likelihood is that “the cliff” will disappear before the lemmings reach the brink. If the lemmings that created their cliff don’t all become “black sheep”, they’ll all be in big trouble with their constituents back home.
Maybe the partisan brinksmanship will end up serving a different purpose. If it does, it may turn out to have been one of those “teaching moments” when the light bulb goes on among the students in the classroom.
The United States of America is a representative democratic republic that places the art of compromise for the sake of the common good at the center of the nation’s life. If the perception of a “fiscal cliff” calls the electorate back from the precipice created by ”one-issue, my-way-or-the-highway, lemming politics“, the cliff that never was will turn out to have had the good effect of a new civility.