Many readers reject the premise that extensive Republican soul-searching is called for. Mutatis Mutandis convincingly argues that this election is less of a setback for conservatives than it seems. CaLaywer, a Democrat, even sees a route to Republican victory in California far shorter than you might suspect. Lawdawg74 thinks the Republican Party is just one transcendent leader away from its next Presidential victory.
If you're willing to head into the weeds of specific issues, the_slasher14 has some excellent posts on tax cuts here and here. Foohog, a Republican Frayster, indicts his party for backing the wrong kind of tax cuts. Johnzep explains why "Republicans lost the debate on taxes." On education, most of the best arguments seem to call for complacency. Other good posts on education can be found here, here, and here. Orion38 injects some realism based on his observation that half of everyone will always rank below average: "No matter how many engineers we crank out, no one will hire them if Chinese engineers can do the same job for 1/10 the cost." I also recommend keeping an eye out for posts from BenK, consistently one of the Fray's smartest conservative posters.
As for the best post of the discussion, I think the prize goes to first-time Frayster rmoore for his big-picture post-mortem on what this election really meant to the great American middle:
Obama's road to the White House began in New Orleans. I have always lined up with the Libertarian Party on most issues. I am pro choice and anti gun control. I don't like the idea of a huge federal bureaucracy that sucks money out of my pockets as fast as I can earn them. I have voted for politicians from both parties who seemed to line up with my beliefs.
The turning point for me, and I think most voters came with hurricane Katrina. I remember that the original story was about the looting. I can remember watching CNN and being struck dumb by the disconnect between the commentators denouncing the looters as nothing more than criminals while watching a bunch of people taking diapers and drinking water. Americans sitting on a highway overpass awaiting rescue for not hours but days...I still get mad thinking about it. The image of Americans floating face down, drowned in their own sewage while the President of the United States cut brush at his ranch is burned into my memory. It changed me. I had become cynical. I stopped giving money to charities because they all seemed corrupt, I had stopped voting because there did not seem to be any real difference between candidates. Hurricane Katrina got me thinking about what I really wanted out of a government. For the first time in a long time I started contributing to charities and I started to look for democratic candidates to vote for. Obviously I'm not alone in this.
If Bush had only called his vacation short on say, Monday. He could have sat in the Oval Office and shuffled papers, and his supporters could have defended him. If he had actually gone to New Orleans instead of flying over it, they could have supported him. Instead, he didn't see fit to end his vacation until Thursday. He presided over one of the greatest natural disasters in American history, and he couldn't have done worse if he had started fiddling or said "Let the people of New Orleans eat cake."
As it was, no one can defend his leadership without showing themselves as either dogmatic drudges or party flacks. It was the most expensive two week vacation in history. In a year, the Republican majority in Congress was gone, and now the White House is gone. All of this talk about school vouchers and realignment and wandering in the wilderness is just as empty as the states where the Republicans can still count on votes. It changes nothing. They have lost, and they will continue to lose as long as they continue the way they are. As long as they prey on our fear and our greed, and as long as they keep calling anyone who doesn't agree with them un-American they will keep losing. Tucker Carlson, Christine Whitman and the rest, you are just moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic. If you think this election went badly, just try financing the next Presidential campaign on contributions from Walmart Republicans and see how much that gets you.
As for me, I hope the new President is up to cleaning up the mess left from the last one.
I'd like to think his closing point is a bipartisan peg we can all hang our hope upon. If his premise is accurate, the end of Republican misfortunes may lie no farther away than the next election. To read many more great discussions on the meaning of this election, look for the checkmarks in the Dialogues Fray.—GA … 3:50 p.m. PST
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2008
"Well the whining, bitching and excuse-making are over," said ProudInfidel last night as the results came in. If only. But still—is there hope that in the chat rooms and blogs of the United States some posts and posters may disappear now the election is done? These are the ones we won't miss here at Slate—additional suggestions gratefully accepted:
1) Usernames like HonestPoster and BalancedViews. Sure sign that an unhinged rant will follow.
2) Posters saying, "They don't like me because I tell the truth." No, that's not why they don't like you. Or asking "Is it just me?"—in the words of a favorite ancient Frayline: "[Y]es it is just you, and not only this week, either."
3) People who really truly believe that if others don't see it the same way, they just need an extra bit of persuasion or another 54 posts listing more arguments, cut-and-pasted from other media, or an e-mail they found in their inbox today that says "forward this on—it is all true." As one poster put it: "I don't think that you really think I'm stupid; I think you just disagree with me and in your frustration you're sublimating cognitive dissonance into hostility."