Congratulations go to Barack Obama for his victory last night.  He did what few Democrats have managed to do this century: win majorities in both popular vote and the Electoral College.  Bill Clinton couldn’t do that in either election, and he was one of the most gifted politicians of this era.

Having gone through more than a few presidential elections, I tend to be more philosophical about their outcomes.  Winning is never a complete blessing, and defeat is rarely a complete disaster.  As I told people last night, we survived Jimmy Carter, who got elected with a similar “change” wind at his back after Watergate and the Vietnam War. He also had large Congressional majorities, and the Fairness Doctrine had been firmly in place for decades.

I hope that Obama turns out to be a better President than Carter, not for Obama’s sake but for the country’s sake.  Christopher Buckley and other conservatives engaged in some wishful thinking by claiming that his victory would somehow lead him to become centrist rather than a liberal ideologue once in office.  Obama has always been pragmatic, as his campaign showed; it will be up to us to work to get that to happen.

The voters in America wanted a significant change, however, and they got it last night in the proper manner — at the ballot box.  Obama’s victory was no fluke; he beat John McCain by seven million votes and won more states than Bush did in either of his two elections.  He will have stronger majorities in both chambers of Congress for his party, and will have legitimate claim to a mandate.

Over the next four years, Republicans and conservatives have to work to rethink their approaches, find new leadership, and work to keep the worst excesses of the Democratic policy from becoming reality.  In 2010, we will have an opportunity to rebuild.  We need to do that through ideas, policies, and strong leadership, not by acting … well, like the Left did throughout much of the Bush years.

It’s time to get back to work.