THERE’S ALWAYS ANOTHER NOVEMBER…. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee commented on the reportedly tense discussion yesterday, between Senate Republicans and President Obama. (via Kevin Drum)

“We simply have a large difference of opinion, which [will] not likely … be settled until November.”

Really, Lamar? And then what happens?

If you had asked Alexander and his GOP colleagues exactly two years about the disputes between Democrats and Republicans, they likely would have offered the identical message — there are large differences of opinion, which voters can settle in November.

And if the 2010 midterms come and go, and Republicans fall short of their majorities (and expectations), they’ll go right back to the same tactics we’re seeing now. And if asked when the GOP might start trying to play a constructive role in American governance, Alexander and his fellow Republicans can once again remind that there are large differences of opinion, which voters can settle in November 2012.

Which is exactly why Alexander’s point is so vapid. To hear him tell it, the only time elections have consequences is when Republicans win.

We talked about this a few months ago, but I still marvel at the circumstances. Voters were confronted in 2008 with two parties with large differences of opinion, and asked to set the country in one direction or the other. Democrats dominated — Obama had the highest popular vote percentage of any candidate in either party in 20 years, and the highest for a non-incumbent in 56 years. Senate Dems scored the biggest majority in two decades. House Dems were awarded the biggest majority in three decades.

Congressional Republicans decided, en masse, that after voters “settled” the debate, the majority still hadn’t earned the right to govern. Why? Because the GOP didn’t like the election results. It’s the first time in memory that a major political party decided that elections simply shouldn’t have consequences.

So, here’s my follow-up for Lamar Alexander: if voters will settle the inter-party arguments in November, what do you consider the results from last November?

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.