Now that it's all over and the Republicans are fated to wander in the wilderness for at least the next four years, let the entrail-reading begin. Things are looking grim for conservatives south of the border, but all is not lost. This may be an opportunity for the Republican Party to do some serious soul-searching and to emerge once again as a credible force on the right.
There are some benefits in being taken to the electoral woodshed. Most significantly, the Democrats are now in control of Congress and the most liberal President since FDR is in the White House at a time of global economic turmoil and geopolitical upheaval. The party that purports to have all the answers now has its hands on all the levers of power, and they will likely prove as incapable of dealing with the country's problems as the current administration. Although President Obama will likely blame George W. Bush for all his shortcomings over the next four years, that excuse will wear a little thin as he fails to deliver on promise after promise. When it becomes apparent that Obama can't solve intractable issues like health care, education, energy independence and the environment merely by the force of his messianic personality, his devoted followers will grow increasingly disenchanted with The One. This will be an opportunity for the Republicans to propose a serious alternative to Democrat left-wing policies if they can get their act together by 2012. The Republican Party needs to rediscover its pro-freedom, small-government libertarian strengths and present these as an alternative to the coming left-wing regime, and they need to rally around a leader who can articulate these values to the voters.
The election of America's first black president is also a historic opportunity for a rethinking of the role of race in American politics. It hopefully will mean the end of the influence that crackpot black leaders like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan have had in American public life. The accusations of systemic racism that have made both parties pander to these demagogues will be less effective now that the United States of AmeriKKKa has elected a black president.
It's also going to be harder for leftists to accuse the Republicans of being the party of big money & corporate interests now that the Democrat juggernaut has opted out of public campaign financing and outspent them by a factor of six to one. The Republicans can use the next four years to rebuild their grass-roots organization and be prepared for another funding onslaught next time, but it's going to be hard to float the argument that money buys elections when it's the Democrats doing the buying and not the stereoptypical top-hatted, monocle-wearing plutocrats in the Republican Party.
The role of the media & its coverage of politics is due for a serious self-examination after this election. Some commentators in the main-stream media are already questioning their ability to present the facts with any pretense of impartiality, and the self-appointed job of the traditional media as gatekeepers of information is over. The degree that the media have helped or covered for Obama because they are invested in the outcome of this "historic" election is disturbing, and hopefully four years of an Obama administration that fails to live up to the media expectations will prompt a serious re-evaluation of their role in the election outcome. This should present an opportunity for the Republicans to get their message out by bypassing the traditional gatekeepers, and use the internet & grass-roots organizations more adeptly like the Democrats have done in the last cycle.
Much has been said lately of the opportunity that a President Obama will have to repair relations with foreign countries and to burnish America's image abroad. The long Bush nightmare is over, and the world yearns for Barack Obama and the Democrats to usher in a new era of peace, love and understanding. Boy, are Democrats in for a surprise. Obama will likely get a honeymoon with foreign powers (much like Bush had after 9-11) but the ugly truth will eventually be revealed: most foreigners have anti-Americanism encoded in their DNA, and it makes dealing rationally with these countries difficult. The sooner Obama's supporters realize this the better, and then they can stop bending over backwards for the UN and countries like France and get on with the American project. They can do it alone if necessary, and potentially led by an envigorated Republican party.
As far as the gay community is concerned, the love that the gay press and gay bloggers have showered on Obama is likely to go unrequited after an Obama victory. Obama is on the record as opposing gay marriage (his policy on that issue is virtually identical to McCain's) and when, after four years in office, an Obama administration has still not taken a stance on gay marriage, the federal Defence of Marriage Act or the Pentagon's "don't ask don't tell" policy on gays in the military, maybe influential gay Americans will take a hard look at their monolithic support for the Democratic Party and their vilification of gay Republicans and right-wing gay organizations like Log Cabin Republicans. It's a nice thought, but I doubt it will happen.
Finally, now that the decision has been made, we can be spared the purple prose that we've been subjected to for the past few months. We won't have to listen to hoary cliches like "drank the Kool-Aid", "in the tank", "working families", "board-room table vs kitchen table", "economic tsunami" and my personal pet peeve "Wall Street vs Main Street". Eventually when disillusionment sets in, we won't have to remain silent at social events while liquor-lubricated liberals rhapsodize about the Great Black Hope. We won't have to listen to bombastic talking heads like Keith Olbermann and Bill O'Reilly pontificate about the election anymore, or wise sages like Jon Stewart and Tina Fey lecture conservatives about their lack of political sophistication - at least until the mid-term election in 2010.