PHOTOGRAPH BY GILLES ROLLE/REA/REDUX
Here’s a consolation to carry into next year, and the next election: in 2014, the maligned, left-for-dead U.S. government worked pretty well. Not perfectly—far from it. Our politics remain rancid. The midterms were a disgrace regardless of your partisan allegiance—flooded with special-interest money and depleted of actual voters. Congress remains a stagnant pool where things turn fetid, and not because of some nameless dysfunction among our legislative élites but because the country itself is deeply divided. The Republican Party has chosen to pursue nihilistic tactics in Washington to win partisan advantage and prevent the government from carrying out basic tasks. But it worked pretty well, and that in itself is one of the biggest stories of the year.