First, some wisdom from Deadwood, via the wonderful Jonah Goldberg at NRO:
I think it was Orson Welles who said, “If you want to tell a story with a happy ending, it all depends on where you stop.” To put it another way: every story is a tragedy, if you tell it to the end.
As with lives, so with republics. Freedom is a living thing. It dies. Conservatives are like doctors. They can only win for the moment, the day, the year, the election cycle. And no matter the victory, time only goes one way. The republic grows older every day, the people travel further from their founding values and nothing lasts forever.
There are many responses to that situation. Only one of them is wise: good cheer and defiance. Keep laughing; fight back; fear nothing. Mortality makes time too precious for despondency and death makes a fool of fear. There’s nothing to worry about: disaster is certain. And nothing can be that serious since, whatever it is, it’s guaranteed to end.
Since Tuesday, I have heard enough conservatives saying, “It’s over! We’re through!” in serious, important-sounding voices to last me the next four years. I don’t care how important you make it sound, it’s whining; any child can do it. I’ll let you know when it’s over by putting you in the ground and throwing six feet of dirt onto your face. Until you get that secret signal, really, pull yourself together.
Like you, I’ve been reading all the post-election autopsies. Here, for my money, is the smartest I’ve seen so far, from Michael S. Greve at the Library of Law and Liberty, hat-tip, as so often, to the Blogfather, Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit:
For advanced democracies in the transfer state predicament, there are only two ways out. One is a responsible Social-Democratic party that is (1) cognizant of the fact that a wrecked economy would also wreck its constituencies and (2) capable of holding labor unions in line. Successful reform countries—Canada, Germany, Sweden, and (more arguably) Brazil—all have that dynamic in common. America had but forfeited that chance in 2008, with Mr. Obama’s victory over Mrs. Clinton. The moment is gone for good, and Mrs. Clinton (should she enter the 2016 sweepstakes that started yesterday) will go nowhere. The new face of the party is Elizabeth Warren et al—brutal, ruthless hacks from Harvard.
The only other way out is a political force that offers a competing social model. That force, and that model, does not now exist—largely, I suspect, on account of our grimly professional politics. Conservatives felt compelled, for eight long years, to defend the Bush administration, an exercise that left them exhausted and compromised. After 2008, they should have done what opposition parties normally do—rethink, and regenerate. Alas, there was never any time for that: all the energy went into a fight against Obamacare, stimulus bills, etc.
Read the whole excellent thing here.