Damn, it's been a long time since I've posted.
As I write this, the election is pretty much over. Nothing short of direct divine intervention would keep Ohio out of Bush's hands, CNN's "green state" business be damned. We can safely say we're looking at four more years of George W. Bush. Add to that the loss of four Senate seats in the South, the probable defeat of the sitting Senate minority leader, and continued Republican dominance in the House, and you have what appears to be an unmitigated disaster for Democrats. Yes, it was close, but in the end, conservatism appears to have captured a clear majority.
Some pundits may start blaming some of Kerry's weaknesses for this defeat - that he doesn't connect well, that he appears aloof, etc. I don't buy it completely. This election was more about Bush than Kerry, and most people (yes, 51% is still most) still agree with Bush.
Which leaves liberalism where, exactly? If a centrist like Kerry can't even beat the arch-conservative Bush, where does that leave those of us on the left? The same place conservatives were in the 1960s, that's where - an ideology whose party has abandoned us, whose leaders have failed us, and whose country has ignored us.
I'll put it to you bluntly - we won't get even a non-conservative administration until 2016 at the best. If the Republicans have any brains at all, they'll nominate McCain in 2008, and he's so wildly popular that he's good for eight years (barring a major policy screw-up). We've got some time to think, folks.
I wrote after the disaster of 2002 that liberals had to stop being afraid of their own shadows and engage the country. Tonight, the lessons of 2002 were re-learned - if you don't present a clear alternative, no one will listen. It's time to come up with an ideology, folks, a clear statement of what liberalism is and where liberals want to lead the country.
Because there is hope for liberals - we are not doomed to a conservative-controlled country indefinitely. Take a look at Barack Obama - an unabashed liberal who outperformed Kerry in Illinois. He not only found a way to win big in Chicagoland but managed to rack up big numbers in rural areas as well. And these rural voters are the ones that Democrats all but write off to the Republicans nowadays.
And parts of the country that once showed no signs of "going blue" now are back into play. Ken Salazar pulled off a big win in Colorado, of all places. Here in the Triangle, two conservative state House members - Don Munford and Sam Ellis - lost to relative upstarts (Grier Martin and Linda Jackson, respectively). Munford and Ellis weren't redistricted out of jobs - they just flat-out lost them.
Maybe in Obama, Salazar, Martin, and Jackson, we can find our silver lining. In 2016 Obama will be 52 - about the right age to run for President. That's the election I'm looking towards now. It may seem like far off, but when it comes to rebuilding and selling an ideology, there's no time to lose.