Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Realigned

(Stealing from myself)

While reading through the morning after newspapers, websites, and blogs still groggy with their post election hangover, I've noticed a narrative repeating that I believe encapsulates what yesterday means, beyond a decisive win for Democrats. Two particular articles summed it up best.

From the Washington Independent: McCain and the New Opposition.

In the aftermath of defeat, with the arc lamps having dimmed on the presidential candidacy of Sen. John McCain, one thing is clear: the Republican Party as we have known it — strong, disciplined and precise in its execution since Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 — will cease to exist beginning today.

During the course of this long campaign, even some of the most fervent GOP boosters found themselves running for cover, bracing for losses of a kind that haven’t been seen in a generation. With big gains in the House and Senate, Democrats have something approaching effective control on Capitol Hill. After most of the final tallies late Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has a stronger majority, while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has 56 of the 60 votes needed to assure passage of Democratic bills.

What the Republicans now face is something akin to an all-out blame-brawl, with finger-pointing, nail-gouging and yelling in closed rooms and in the most public of squares. All in the pursuit of answers to two basic questions: How on Earth did Sen. Barack Obama achieve the greatest Democratic victory since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964? And, more important, what do we do next?
And from columnist/author David Sirota: America Looks in the Mirror, and Celebrates.
For three obvious reasons, last night was an historic landmark - the election of the first African American president, the success of a campaign that was more grassroots than any past, and the very bold progressive mandate the country delivered thanks both to the sheer size of the victory and to the candidates making clear this was an ideological choice between Reagan-ism and Roosevelt-ism. While I tend to try to live up to the "there's no crying in politics" rule, I'll admit it - I, like so many others last night, shed more than one tear of happiness and hopefulness.

In the weeks ahead, pundits, pollsters, prognosticators and prevaricators will inevitably analyze the election to death, tell us that these stark results somehow mean America is more conservative than ever, and insist that the only Serious and Responsible thing for an Obama administration to do after such a resounding election is to perpetuate the status quo. [...]

Though the post-election political coverage is all about D.C. jockeying for cabinet positions - that's not what this election was about. Though the television broadcasts that delivered last night's news were chock full of professional pundits and D.C. operatives and political insiders insisting that we needed their analysis to tell us what happened - we didn't. Because for once, this wasn't their election, it was ours; this isn't their presidential candidate, he is ours; and if we keep pushing and remember that election night was the start of our work and not the end, it won't be their government, it will at last be ours.
Though the ideological battle only got direct voice in the final few weeks of the race, it was/is always there.

I think yesterday was as much a win for Obama's style of campaigning and policies with a progressive lean as it was a rejection of what the Republican Party has come to represent in the minds of Americans. Both parties would do well to waste little energy defending what they've become or have been in the past, and devote all efforts to redefining themselves for the future. I think we've hit one of those rare points of political realignment that come maybe once in a generation. And I think it will be a challenge for both parties to harness for their own interests and elections to come.

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