I use “catastrophic” in its mathematical sense, a function not with a smooth curve but one that at some point makes a rapid break- like a beam that when loaded past a certain point does not gradually bend, but breaks, catastrophically.
There is an old Dr. Seuss book, made into an animated TV show, called “Horton Hears A Hoo” (spelling not checked.) Horton is an elephant who believes a flower contains a tiny city; the inhabitants of that city must make themselves heard before they are destroyed. They shout and shout, but are not heard. An old man must persuade a small child to make a noise, any noise; he finally does and the shouting of the Hoos breaks through the cloud cover over the city and they are heard.
One of my themes recently has been that leftists are not stupid or crazy; but there is one area in which they have an irrational belief. Leftists believe that there is a certain point of public support at which all resistance to their program will suddenly collapse, the dam will break, and they will permanently remake society in their image.
Hunter S. Thompson describes this feeling in some writing of his, that in the mid 60’s leftists felt the old order was washing away, virtually without resistance, and the Age of Aquarias was coming. This probably explains some of the rage and bitterness of the late 60’s; and I think it explains the spluttering rage and indignation leftists display now, with the tea parties and the opposition to health care reform that refuses to die. To them, their moment has come, and any continuing resistance is futile and thus even more evil, like a military unit that keeps firing after its defeat is assured.
Remember that Bush II said after he was reelected that he had political capital, and he intended to spend it; he felt he had the strength to put up and pass his agenda. So the attitude is not exactly restricted to conventional liberals, although Bush was not really a conservative and he didn’t mean it in the messianic sense that liberals do.
But winning an election, even winning it big, just gets you an office. You still have to convince people to support your specific ideas, rather than just you. Obama went easy on the ideas, which is probably a good choice for an election under those circumstances, but leaves you more work after you get elected.
The victory of leftism has been thousands of boring, often seemingly barely significant initiatives, barely worthwhile to impatient leftists, just barely objectionable to all but doctrinaire conservatives. Big leftist initiatives require an atmosphere of crisis; but there is no health care crisis, for most of the population anyway.