Two years ago, after the reelection of President Bush with increased Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress, I enjoyed this nice feeling which lasted for some time after the election. (I wasn’t alone; Peggy couldn’t “stop being happy about the election result.”) With it became apparent Tuesday night that the GOP would lose in the Senate as well as the House, it seemed I might become as despondent in the aftermath as I had been joyful in 2004.
I did not sleep well the night after the election, but fewer than twenty-four hours after realizing how complete had been the GOP defeat, I was returning to my natural good cheer and boundless optimism. (In contrast to the previous night, I slept very, very well Wednesday night.) While I wished the GOP had done more to save the three Senate seats which could have been saved (Missouri, Montana, Virginia), I realized that sometimes defeats are necessary in politics. It seemed almost the the very closeness of the 2004 presidential election meant that the winner that year would see his party lose two years thence.
And if I had to pick between winning in 2004 and in 2006, well, I’d rather we had won in the presidential year. And while I can detect a sense of sadness on certain conservative blogs, only on one have I found any bitterness. Instead, I see a sense of recognition, conservatives acknowledging the Democrats’ winning strategy and the quality of their candidates while our party failed to hold true to its principles.
I also see a sense of resolve. Instead of blaming others for our failures — or suggesting the elections might have been stolen — conservatives as well as some Republican congressional leaders are looking forward, putting forward ideas on how our party can be an effective force in opposition and considering what we need do to win back our majority.
Apparently this attitude has upset some of the left. After visiting a few sites and receiving a few e-mails, the Anchoress finds:
the weirdest fallout I’ve seen from the election is that the far left folks seem to be annoyed…angry, even at the right for not being more pissed-off, for being mostly philosophical instead of enraged about the results. I think they were hoping to enjoy watching us flip out, and they’re not seeing it. Instead of ranting and carrying on about “leftards” and spewing venom and hate and charging “stolen, stolen,” the righty blogs are thinking things over and talking and even – fer heaven’s sake – daring to laugh in real amusement as they watch the strangely positive headlines which have surfaced in the press since Tuesday.
No, we conservatives haven’t flipped out as did the left two years ago. And the initial sadness that some on the right have experienced seems, as mine, to have quickly been replaced by a resolve to find a means to move forward despite our party’s loss.
I agree with the Anchoress that the “weirdest fallout” has been the attitude of the left. Despite their party’s victory, they are as angry as they have ever been. They still dwell on their negative attitudes toward conservatives.
Anger does not well suit the party in the majority. They need show that they are prepared to govern. We conservatives have, on the whole, have shown that we intend to press forward despite Tuesday’s results.
Perhaps, I’m not as sad as I was Tuesday night because I’m old enough to realize that setbacks are only temporary. (And not only in politics.) Just two years after losing the White House in 1992, our party won majorities in both Houses of Congress for the first time in forty years. When one faces adversity with the right attitude, not only can one work on in despair, but can only find that that attitude — and the continued effort — can turn adversity into opportunity.
I see opportunity for my party — and my principles — in this defeat. And perhaps we should build on that attitude, realizing that whenever we sufffer setbacks in life, that they are only temporary and that even our missteps and misfortune contain seeds of opportunity.