"People don't really care how I feel," a discouraged-looking Barney Frank tells me in the ornate lobby outside the House floor, where politicians new and old to this scene are milling about before the 112th Congress officially gets underway.
"I wish we were in power. I think the public policy goals I like would be better served, but we came in here with the majority, we were in the minority, back to the majority, back again," Frank says. "I'm skeptical now. The Republicans in the House seem to be pretty hard-edged partisans, so I am not optimistic."
There's a lot of that going around among Democrats today: the attitude of, "What can you do?"
For the next 30 minutes or so, the United States does not have a legislature. After the conclusion of the 111th Congress, the 435 representatives were technically kicked out. They don't represent their districts, on paper, until they're sworn back in.
Democrats, one might expect, would prefer to keep it that way. Judging from what they've said about Republicans over the past four years, you'd think they'd prefer no Congress at all to one run by Speaker-elect John Boehner.
But, despite this gloom and fatigue, they seem to be taking it in stride.
"It's my hope and my prayer that we'll be able to work together and come together for the common good," says John Lewis, the civil-rights leader who today will enter his 13th term in the House.