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After The Tidal Wave

Ben and I tackle the question of "what's next after the election?" in our Scripps Howard column. My take:

On Wednesday morning, while most of her friends and flock were still hung over in despair of the election results, a liberal Kansas pastor sent a short note to the newly elected ultraconservative governor of her state, Sam Brownback.

"Dear Sam Brownback, I am pleased that Kansas has a governor who respects the sacred nature of life," the pastor wrote. "In the upcoming legislative session, I urge you to apply your pro-life principles to all people and support the repeal of the death penalty in the state of Kansas."

The pastor gives a fine sermon, but this act may have constituted her greatest lesson. Yes, liberals and their allies were defeated at the polls on Tuesday. But their causes endure -- providing aid and comfort to the needy; expanding the rights of gay and lesbian Americans; resisting the siren call of militarism in a violent age. A day or two of post-electoral bellyaching is understandable, but there is still work to be done. Republican victories don't change that.

Liberals can spend the next few years griping about their GOP rivals --or the folly of voters who elected them -- or they can accept their beating and begin work on rebuilding their coalitions, all while looking opportunities for to advance their agenda in the meantime.

Those advances may be smaller than desired, but doesn't make them unimportant.

Such advances may be more difficult at the federal level. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has plainly said the objective of the GOP during the next two years is to deny President Obama a second term. Also true: In some debates there is little or no room for common ground. But liberals might find opportunities at the local and state levels. And they might take a lesson from the Kansas pastor: there's no time for despair.


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I've been making some life changes lately — trying to use the time I have, now that I'm back in Kansas, to improve my health and lifestyle. Among the changes: More exercise. 30 minutes a day on the treadmill. Doesn't sound like a lot, but some is more than none, and I know from experience that getting overambitious early leads to failure. So. Thirty minutes a day.

One other thing: Yoga, a couple of times a week. It's nothing huge — a 15-minute flexibility routine downloaded from an iPhone app. But I've noticed that I'm increasingly limber.

Tonight, friends, I noticed a piece of trash on the floor. I bent over at the waist and picked it up, and threw it away.

Then I wept. I literally could not remember the last time I'd tried to pick something off the floor without grunting and bracing myself. I just did it.

Small victories, people. Small victories.

Liberals: We're overthinking this. Hillary didn't lose. This is what it should mean.

Nate Cohn of the New York Times estimates that when every vote is tallied, some 63.4 million Americans will have voted for Clinton and 61.2 million for Trump. That means Clinton will have turned out more supporters than any presidential candidate in history except for Obama in 2008 and 2012. And as David Wasserman of Cook Political Report notes, the total vote count—including third party votes—has already crossed 127 million, and will “easily beat” the 129 million total from 2012. The idea that voters stayed home in 2016 because they hated Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is a myth. We already know the Electoral College can produce undemocratic results, but what we don't know is why — aside from how it serves entrenched interests — it benefits the American people to have their preference for national executive overturned because of archaic rules designed, in part, to protect the institution of slavery. 

A form of choosing the national leader that — as has happened in …

I'm not cutting off my pro-Trump friends

Here and there on Facebook, I've seen a few of my friends declare they no longer wish the friendship of Trump supporters — and vowing to cut them out of their social media lives entirely.

I'm not going to do that.

To cut ourselves off from people who have made what we think was a grievous error in their vote is to give up on persuading them, to give up on understanding why they voted, to give up on understanding them in any but the most cartoonish stereotypes.

As a matter of idealism, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on democracy. As a matter of tactics, cutting off your pro-Trump friends is to give up on ever again winning in a democratic process.

And as a long-term issues, confining ourselves to echo chambers is part of our national problem.

Don't get me wrong: I expect a Trumpian presidency is a disaster, particularly for people of color. And in total honesty: My own relationships have been tested by this campaign season. There's probably some damage…