It would easy for Democrats to be sad.
Watching Republican John Boehner ascend the rostrum in the House of Representatives and accept the speaker's gavel from Nancy Pelosi, after all, could be downright depressing.
To be sure, in most ways, I'd have been happier if the 112th Congress opened on Wednesday with Pelosi beginning a third term as speaker.
But that is not to be.
Indeed, as a progressive Democrat, I expected to be more morose, myself. But I find I'm not.
I've come to realize that a Republican House is perhaps the best thing for Democrats.
Forget all the bravado about how the November elections gave the Republicans a mandate to repeal healthcare reform, cut deeply into domestic social programs, or in other ways pursue a doggedly conservative agenda.
They didn't, and the truth is, Republicans will now begin to feel increasingly intense pressure.
The fact is that the American people don't support most of the extreme GOP agenda, and are lukewarm at best about the new GOP masters of the House.
A majority of Americans actually think the policies promoted by Republicans will send the country in the wrong direction, according to a recent CNN poll.
A separate poll finds that 72 percent of the public want the Republicans to cooperate and compromise with President Obama and Democrats.
That will be a tall order for Boehner and his lieutenants given the number of devout tea party members in their ranks.
Meanwhile, yet another poll says that most Americans think Obama already has done enough to cooperate with Republicans. Some 68 percent think the GOP has more to do to reciprocate.
It's already apparent how out-of-touch Republicans are given that their first big vote next week is a repeal of healthcare reform.
The top issue for a full 50 percent of Americans is fixing the economy and creating jobs. Just 9 percent say healthcare is the most pressing issue.