Rather than rushing to rebrand themselves, anointing a new leader, taking stock of themselves by casting blame on others or trying to run people and philosophies out of the movement, conservatives should stop, remain in place for a few moments, look around, and take stock not of the reasons for defeat but of what went right. And what political assets remain and in which tactical areas they must quickly catch up to the liberals.
I can already think of one: According to one source, Obama has 3.6 million donors who have contributed via the Internet. And if each of those donors gives just $5 per month, well, you could fund a whole lot of political activity with cash like that. ACORN wouldn't need any money from Congress.
In what is now the stillness that accompanies the end of the Bush presidency, it is time for conservatives to craft a positive, change-oriented message of their own. Not an anti-Bush or anti-McCain message. Not a pro-activist government message. But one that trumpets the freedom of the individual, the hope that is an endemic part of the nation's culture, embodied by the idea that by hard work, luck, and sacrifice, we can and likely will do better. The only really effective challenge to Obama during the general election didn't come from John McCain; it came from someone who, in his own way, did just that, in simple, basic, American terms. His name is Joe, and he's a plumber in Ohio. And he's on to something.
Peter Roff is the former political director of GOPAC and former senior political writer for United Press International.