Pendulum swings left in Washington, Raleigh and New Hanover County. At some point in the future it will swing back right.

When we stand up, our eyes, inner ear, muscles and brain automatically work together toward one goal -- equilibrium. Same for water -- it’s always seeking to level itself.

And so it goes with American politics. In their wisdom, the founders created a system of government that has an uncanny ability to rebalance itself -- to constantly seek the center. Sometimes it takes a while for one piece to balance out the other. And some out-of-balance periods last longer than others. But just like a torrent of water sprayed from a hose into a bucket, an equilibrium eventually emerges.

That is generally the case with midterm election results, and 2018 was no different, as the Democrats took control of the U.S. House, nudging the balance of power in Washington from the right back toward the center.

The same shift occurred in North Carolina, as Democrats flipped enough seats in the General Assembly to end the Republicans’ veto-proof supermajority. In the same vein, by rejecting two amendments that would have shifted more authority to the legislature, the majority of North Carolina voters made it clear that they, like the founders, believe that a balance of power among branches of government is a cornerstone of state government as well as the federal government.

That same swinging of the pendulum back in the other direction also took place in New Hanover County, where Democrats made big inroads on the Board of Commissioners and Board of Education, both dominated by Republicans for the past few decades. While the highly partisan and ideological battles fought in Washington -- and, to a lesser extent, Raleigh -- generally don’t flare up at the local level, issues like de facto school segregation, development and the environment may well set off some political fireworks closer to home.

Beyond important checks and balances, one of the benefits of a more-balanced governing body is that each side forces the other side to -- dare we say it? -- compromise, which has become a sign of weakness among too many politicians and their supporters, especially on the ends of the ideological spectrum. The idea that a nation of 326 million, a state of 10.4 million or a county (New Hanover) of nearly 230,000 can be -- or even should be -- effectively governed without significant give-and-take is absurd.

Of course, as Democrats take their new spots at the table, they would be wise to remember that the pendulum of power, which swung in their direction this time, invariably will swing back in the other direction.

That, however, is a lesson few politicians ever seem to learn -- or accept.