We may break out the Dom Perignon soon, because as Napoleon said once, “In victory, you deserve champagne, in defeat, you need it.” Tuesday’s presidential election stung. The Collegian editorial board disagrees on politics (mostly thanks to our hipster contingent), but not a single one of us wanted to see President Barack Obama win re-election.
For many, Gov. Mitt Romney seemed likely to pull through: polls oversampled Democrats, evangelicals would turn out quietly, battleground states seemed winnable. Early returns looked decent, but Romney just didn’t have the swing. He received fewer votes than Sen. John McCain in 2008.
There’s no way to spin Tuesday’s results as a win for conservatives. It doesn’t guarantee a Republican victory in 2016, and it won’t purge the party of its moderates, as many hope. The president won a mandate to govern. Romney didn’t present the conservative vision for the United States in a compelling manner, and he didn’t convince enough of the electorate that Republicans could provide solutions and alternatives. What’s next?
Reassess. The most interesting disagreements are not those between conservatives and liberals, but rather the disagreements among conservatives themselves, ranging from nuanced kerfuffles to foundational disputes. The electorate isn’t stupid, nor is it infallible, but the defenders of liberty are doing something wrong, missing the key strategic answers. We have four years now to consider what precisely that means, and it should begin at Hillsdale. Maybe diehard Republicans didn’t demand enough ideology from Romney. Maybe libertarians had unachievable expectations. Perhaps both.
Whatever the case, we have failed to coalesce, and that’s evident even on our small campus. Partisanship may be an unavoidable result of human nature, but despite its difficulties, we will have to learn to work with our political system, which is imperfect but better than all available alternatives. With grace and humility we should go onward, and figure out how to reconcile our differences and create a coherent philosophy with which we can convince our fellow countrymen.
So have a glass of champagne, and get back to work. We have a country to save, and our cause is too just to quit.