Congratulations to Barack Obama who, upon the convening of the Electoral College next month, will be the President-elect of the United States. This is unquestionably a historic night for the country and one that proves indisputably that even if racism is not dead, it has suffered the most crippling and devastating of blows.
And those blows were landed on the body of racism by Americans across racial, religious and political divides. Whatever one’s political leanings, the latest landmark transcendence of the cramped and toxic legacy of racism was a uniquely American victory. At the end of the day, no matter one’s vote, racism simply didn’t matter to people whether they voted for John McCain or Barack Obama. This is something great to celebrate.
All of this having been said, this country is still very much a center-right country. Despite an economic crisis, two wars, wrong track numbers that have reached nearly 80%, a Republican President whose popularity rating is at about 25% or so and a massive fundraising machine for the Obama campaign that was made possible by Barack Obama’s decision to break his campaign promise and opt out of the public financing system, as of the time of this writing, Barack Obama is only ahead by a mere 3% in the popular vote–a margin of about 3 million votes. He is, at the time of this writing, a 51% President.
Is this impressive? Sure. Is the Electoral College margin impressive? Absolutely. But the popular vote shows no landslide whatsoever for Barack Obama.
This means that if the coming Obama Administration tries to impose a New New Deal, there will be a significant cadre of libertarians and conservatives prepared to oppose such a grand expansion of government. This means that if there is an effort to raise taxes, there will be powerful voices raised in protest. And because there will remain enough Republicans in the Senate to launch filibusters, this means that misguided efforts to impose card check legislation will (one hopes) die on the vine.
And so, this means that if the Republican Party is, to paraphrase Kipling, able to keep its head about it while all others are losing theirs, the Party will come back faster than people think. Republicans can target Senators and Representatives from Red states and districts and make up for losses in Congress over the past two election cycles. Republicans can sharpen their ideas in terms of policy, in terms of motivating the Republican grassroots and blogging cadre. Conservative and libertarian think tanks can be refurbished and the center-right’s communications efforts can be augmented and upgraded. Again, consider that everything went against the Republican Party this year, the GOP’s standard bearers ran flawed and–in many ways–incompetent campaigns and yet, Barack Obama could not win a popular vote landslide.
If we fix only some of the mistakes that we have made as a party and as a movement, we can be tremendously competitive again. If we become the supreme electoral overachievers we were and could again be, we will be back in the saddle again faster than anyone could possibly think tonight.
So, congratulations to Barack Obama. But to Republicans and members of the small-government Right: courage. Things may look daunting now. But there is a clear path to an electoral comeback and if we follow it, it won’t be long before we celebrate electoral victories again.