Well, I certainly hope I'm proven wrong about everything I've said with respect to Barry. No one would be happier than I if that turns out to be the case (with the exception, naturally, of the unborn!)
We lost. Badly. Not as bad as we could've, and certainly not as much as the crazies expected, but this one stings. Which is surprising, as this was Obama's election to lose to begin with. McCain put in a lot of long, hard work at the end, and right up to 11 o'clock he stayed in the fight. That's par for the course with the man. And though I don't agree with the man on much of what he's said and done, he's earned a lot of respect during all of this from me. I think he learned a lot, too; particularly in regards to what fair-weather friends the media can be.
So where do we go from here?
First, let's consider some of the hopeful signs and positive outcomes from this election.
1. If he screws up, Obama has no one to blame but himself. With a handy majority in the House and Senate, if something he tries doesn't go right, it's on him. The absence of any real Republican power in Congress means that there's not even enough of them to scapegoat. The scrutiny, then, will be appropriately harsh. This is useful.
2. Big evidence against the old grievance arguments that abound in politics today. "America is a racist nation"- oh, really? That's odd. Because, for all that minorities can't get ahead in this country.... why, look! One did. What goal is there left to people who believe that race and the crimes of the past entitle them to positions of public trust and political power? And maybe, hopefully, this will convince some of the more sane folks on the left side of the line that the radicals really don't have a case any more, and are harping on it simply to rub resentments raw and exploit anger for the purpose of political motivation.
3. No more W. Poor George. For everything that's gone wrong, I still believe he is a good man, but his policies have gone badly awry for so long now, it's difficult to remember a time when they went right. And not everything he did went bad, either; far from it. But what he was up against is the largest collection of some of the most single-minded, underhanded, devious and preternaturally furious people we've seen. They hated the man, and did everything they could to make him look like an idiot, or a tyrant, or both. Well, no more of this now. Obama's talked a big game about America being able to do better than the past eight years. Will he? When so much of the campaign promise was to right the wrongs of the last eight years, how much will he actually deliver? It's something of which to remind people, and often.
4. An end to overwrought "YES. WE. CAN." videos, I hope. Shudder.
5. William F. Buckley (God rest his soul) purged the conservative movement of its kooks. This election could very well purge the movement of its wimps. What we've found is that given a choice between a Democrat and a Republican who walks like a Democrat, talks like a Democrat, and votes like a Democrat, people will choose the real Democrat. Moderate Republicans do not win elections. So from now on, if there's to be a Republican Party with any shot at capturing votes, it's got to be conservative. We've been letting our enemies dictate the ground we fight on. Let's pick our own turf this time, and make sure we can defend it well. And when Obama messes up, people will be looking for the alternative. We have a case to make in this country, and we haven't been making it, either out of our own lack of engagement and poor choices, or because we've let the people across the aisle dictate who we are as a Party and what we stand for. Enough's enough.
6. Most importantly: The bishops are back. Catholics didn't quite impress me in this election. Most went for Obama. Well, okay, fellows. Now we know where you stand- when your shepherds are telling you to get back into the flock, you'd rather go run with the wolves. So be it.
One of the problems we'd been facing is parallel to that in 5- too many times, the bishops and prominent Catholics were cowed by their own opponents bodily removing them from the public sphere. In recent memory, we've seen the Ten Commandments taken out of court houses, prayer in schools all but forbidden, and religion used as a cynical political tool to gain "street cred" rather than a means through which to draw moral nourishment and courage. Religion looked like it was being slowly edged out of the public sphere, to loud applause from folks on the left who get incredibly antsy every time religious conviction comes up. But quite a few American bishops came out swinging, and wouldn't be silenced, speaking out against Obama and denouncing his policies, and doing so from the POV of Catholic teaching. For the moment, it looks like they've reengaged. For too many years now, Catholicism has been a "Sunday thing"- you believe it when you're sitting in that pew, and you do what's expected of you, kneel here, stand here, repeat this, walk up here, get your Communion, don't get a speeding ticket tearing out of the parking lot. What we have from the bishops, then, is a clear signal that that's no longer going to be acceptable. One's religious convictions bring with them certain moral imperatives which cannot be ignored, and which must be proposed in the body politic.