Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lose Like Men

You don’t need me to tell you this past election was historic, that’s been said enough. Young people like myself have no recollection of a country blighted by racism, and so perhaps don’t fully appreciate the significance of electing a black man. Racism is a dying institution, and good riddance. However, we must be careful not to allow “reverse racism” to creep in. Let’s remember that favoring someone because of skin color is wrong, no matter what that color is.

In 2006, I wrote out my thoughts about the Republican defeat at the polls on my blog. If I removed the date-specific material, I could republish much of it today and still be relevant. But there is plenty more to add. This election has taught me a lot about who people in my party are – and it’s not a pretty sight.

I was like a lot of conservatives and had no great passion for a John McCain presidency. Was the long-time thorn in the Republicans’ side now going to lead the party? But consider the alternative! We truly were condemned either way. In the end, even the plucky Alaska Governor Sarah Palin couldn’t save us, and McCain lost, lost fair and square.

It didn’t take long for Republicans to morph into the depressed Democrats of 2000 and 2004. “He’s not my president!” snorted countless indignant Republicans on forums. “Who wants to join me in moving to Canada?” said others. “January 20, 2013” signs – the day the next presidential term begins – began showing up as a number to be anticipated by conservatives. Images of Obama in horns appeared. All are exact mirrors of the woebegone Democrats who were inconsolable after George W. Bush won. Twice. Republicans were getting a taste of that sentiment, and reacting the same way.

Then things got ugly. Officials with the McCain campaign began vomiting their (undoubtedly pent-up) vitriol and blame at the very person who brought energy to the campaign, Governor Palin. Prominent conservative voices such as Peggy Noonan and Scott Ott were quickly savaged for offering positive thoughts for the future. “IS there one?” seemed the derisive response.

Sometimes, politics really is just two parties trying to do different things the same way.

Well I have a message for you miserable Republicans. SNAP OUT OF IT. Buck up. Grow up. Try being a gracious loser and remember who you are. Don’t copy the foolish sulking of defeated Democrats; there is no room for that in a party that is supposed to be exceptional. And above all, accept that as long as you are an American citizen, Barack Obama is going to be your president for the next four years.

I have a message for you Democrats too: It’s your turn now. It’s up to you, the ball is in your court. No more blaming Bush for everything. You haven’t had a chance like this in 12 years, and now you have it. Take some responsibility for what goes on, good and bad. But beware the dangers of placing all of your trust in one man, for people will always let you down, and Constitutionally, the power still belongs to the People.

Power is cyclical in this country, and I daresay President-Elect Obama won because of John McCain, not in spite of him. There are other elections to come, and plenty to do in the meantime. I mean this sincerely, enjoy your hard-earned victory.

And finally, to the army of I-told-you-so’ers ready to diagram why we lost, put away your chalk boards, we already know. We didn’t have a real conservative in John McCain, and we’re paying for some major PR mistakes in the past several years. But, as former Clinton adviser Dick Morris notes, if Republicans had to pick an election to lose, this was it. Rather than start pointing fingers and firing off your pouting accusations, let’s focus on pulling together, rebuilding and try being conservatives again . I was talking with a friend about the election results, and mentioned having stern words for the sore losers in the party the next day. My friend disagreed.

“The election was the spanking,” he said in a very fatherly, inspiring way. “It’s time for the hug and for the hope.”

Indeed.

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