I have wanted to write a post about the election since Tuesday night, but the results weren't in thoroughly enough then to write coherently. Here are my observations about it, in no particular order:
Which is worse, a "shellacking" or a "thumpin"?
Republican victory was both broad and deep. Republicans will control more legislative chambers and won more legislative seats (680) than at any time in the last 82 years, and won at least 239 U. S. House seats (a net gain of at least 60, while 11 remain undecided at this writing), while picking up at least 6 additional Senate seats (again, a few remain undecided). This is the most significant gain in House seats for Republicans in a single election since 1946.
It is probably better, from a tactical perspective, that Republicans do not control the Senate. This will prevent both Clinton-style triangulation and a Truman style campaign against a "do-nothing" Congress (whose bills Truman vetoed). Moreover, at least a few of the Democratic Senators will have to go along with the GOP to avoid their own shellacking in years to come (Sen.-elect Manchin, Bill Nelson of Florida, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, possibly a few others).
Why is it that a candidate is often more gracious in defeat than he was in victory, and more likable?
Coming soon to remainder bins at fine bookstores near you: The Death of Conservatism by Sam Tannenhaus and 40 More Years: How the Democrats will Rule the Next Generation. (As an aside, it's creepy when American political figures talk about ruling. Ruling is for kings, despots, and dictators in ill-fitting uniforms, leading is the term for the stewardship of presidents, senators, and representatives. Ruling is a creepy word for an American to use of his own government... and telling, if I may so).
Cap-and-trade is dead, being literally shot through the heart by Democratic Senator-elect Joe Manchin. So, probably, are forced unionization through card check, another "stimulus" bill, and any future attempts to govern Americans from the far left.
Candidates I have the highest hopes for: Nikki Haley, Allen West, and Susana Martinez. It's about time some non-white Republicans beat some white liberal Democrats in close races. It's past time to prove that Republican and racist aren't interchangeable terms (not they ever were, but still...). These candidates are a silent rebuke to all that.
And while we're on the subject, how did the party that was for slavery, secession and segregation wind up being the defender of minority rights? Abe Lincoln was a Republican; Bull Connor and George Wallace were Democrats. What voodoo rite did the Democrats perform to transform 165 years of opposition to blacks and their rights into a perception as the party of the oppressed rather than the oppressors? This will, I'm afraid, always confuse me.
Here in Illinois, the Machine grinds on, unhindered by law or shame to the lasting detriment of the people.
Advice to Democrats: Push harder for what you want. People love full-scale Europeanization and social democracy, they really do. The problem with this election was your marketing, and the nefarious influence of the US Chamber of Commerce. Seriously. Keep doing what you're doing. Americans will see the wisdom of your ideas any day now, despite the fact that they haven't wanted what you are selling (clearly labeled as such) since FDR, and it's debatable that they wanted it then. The next unabashed liberal president with a temporarily large majority will form a permanent center-left majority in this country. Really.
Advice to Republicans: Enjoy this while it lasts. The wheel turns, and it will roll over the unwary. Beware hubris, lest nemesis come for you as it has for Obama and the Dems. Keep your word: Cut spending-really cut it, don't just slow down the rate of growth. Serious about limiting the influence of lobbyists and "special interests"? Reduce the size and reach of the federal government, and fewer people will feel the need to lobby. Don't leave us with debt that my grandchildren will never pay off. Do something great for the country instead of something that will merely ensure your re-election in 2012.
Three words that best describe the election for me: Hope and Change.