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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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