I did promise one, didn't I? Trouble is, I'm not sure I have any idea.
Turnout for the election fell short of the 2008 figures, though it appears to have equaled the 20th and 21st Century norms. As turnout was expected to be a predictive element – specifically, predictive of a Romney victory -- we must wonder whether any of the analysts on the Right fully grasped its import.
The whole question of what moves American citizens to vote hasn't been studied nearly as deeply as it should. Why is that? Perhaps because those in a position to analyze it are afraid of the conclusions they'll be forced to draw.
This was Mitt Romney's sixth campaign and his fifth defeat. It's exceedingly unlikely that he'll ever again stand for election to a public office. It's virtually guaranteed that he won't be a contender for the GOP's presidential nomination in 2016; neither party has much interest in renominating a loser. The nominations of Adlai Stevenson in 1956 and Richard Nixon in 1968 were deviations from that tendency, and highly unlikely to be repeated.
Who does that leave? Romney's competitors in the primaries were uninspiring, mostly by lack of staying power. In addition, their ages would seem to preclude further prominence in national politics. If the Republicans wish to remain a major party, they'd better be looking to their "farm teams" -- the state governors and U.S. Senators -- for figures to be groomed for national postures.
Inasmuch as the GOP now holds 30 governorships, you might think the crop should yield some likely prospects for the "big club." However, only one of those governors, New Jersey's Chris Christie, has made much of a blip on the national radar. Even Wisconsin's Scott Walker, despite his undeniable success in curbing union power and defeating an impassioned recall attempt, is too obscure to "go national" at this time. Christie was generally regarded as unsuitable for the national spotlight even before his embarrassing tango with Barack Obama after Superstorm Sandy. So the next Republican presidential candidate might have to come from the Senate.
That is, if there are elections in 2016.
Vote fraud and vote suppression were both attempted in a large number of districts. The consequences are things we cannot know with perfect certainty, because the very mechanisms we must call upon to determine them have far too often proved corrupt.
Of one thing we can be certain: a huge fraction of our military was denied its franchise. Ballots simply never reached those soldiers, sailors, and airmen. As those voters overwhelmingly favor Republican candidates, there might well have been a race-changing impact from that alone.
This denial of the franchise to tens of thousands of American servicemen could not have occurred without the passive connivance of the Obama Administration. The Pentagon underfunded the effort; it admitted to having done so. It claimed that its hand was forced. By whom? There was a law in place intended to guarantee precisely the opposite. However, that law went unenforced.
Young Americans thinking about a hitch will know this. It cannot have a positive effect on enlistment rates. Whether that was a consequence the Administration desired, we cannot know.
This matter of a "mandate to lead" will now be front and center among the Punditocracy. Those on the Left will insist that merely by having won a second term, Obama's program of steadily advancing social-fascism, redolent of European socialism as practiced in France, Germany, and Italy, has been confirmed as "what the people want." Those on the Right will point to the thinness of Obama's popular vote margin and demand to know how a difference in the tallies of less than 2% could be interpreted that way. With appropriate exchanges of party alignment, this is the way they've dueled ever since the election of Richard Nixon.
Obama himself has never been terribly concerned with "what the people want." His repeated flagrant dismissals of Constitutional constraints, Congressional prerogatives, and his ex officio duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" make it clear that he regards himself as above the law, including the Supreme Law of the Land. He will be at least as determined to have his way these next four years as he's been up to now.
When a Caesar of the Roman Empire began to behave in an erratic or willful fashion, someone -- the Senate, the Praetorian Guard, the Army, his family, or some civic-minded citizen -- usually assassinated him and installed a replacement. The system worked tolerably well until welfare measures and Imperial intrusion into the agriculture market -- panem et circenses -- created a dependent class too large for the remaining productive citizenry to support.
We might just have such a dependent class today. Bill O'Reilly of Fox News argued as much to Bret Baier yesterday evening. If so, restoring the Republic might prove as difficult for us as it was for the Romans -- and remember, they "lost the finals" to the Visigoths and the Vandals.
A final thought before I get back to working on Freedom's Scion.
I concur in substance with the gloomier evaluations of this outcome: the country will now accelerate its slide into division and moral degradation. Those of us who "have a little something" will increasingly be the targets of those who want what we have but aren't willing to work and save as we've done. They believe that theft by State agency is their "right," and the State, which always takes the lion's share of its kills, will happily assist them in their efforts.
Several persons have argued that this makes it plain that the time has come to "go Galt." There's an impassioned bit of reader email about that at Instapundit. But that must remain a completely personal choice.
You don't owe anyone the power to direct your course through life. No, not even to "restore the Republic," no matter what it might have done for you in years past. (Let's not get into what it's done to you.) Whatever your station, whatever your prospects, whatever your outlook and your fears, you must choose according to your best judgment and the dictates of your conscience. Rest assured that those around you will be doing much the same.
For my part, I intend to go on as I've done up to now: working in my trade a few years longer; writing fiction in my spare time, which I hope will become more copious when I've retired; and looking after my loved ones, my animals, my home, my parish, and my community to the best of my ability. I would regard any willed deviation from those patterns as a betrayal of self: an implicit declaration that the things I've done with my life and my powers weren't really what I wanted to do, or what I felt I ought to do. Inasmuch as that's the opposite of the case, I feel no temptation to change course.
And so I exhort you, Gentle Reader, to ask yourself: Have you been doing what you really want to do and ought to do? If so, why would you change it to suit someone else's notions of civic engagement? If not, I'd suggest that you get cracking while you still can, but that's a much more complex discussion.
Be not afraid.
UPDATE: Duyen has just emailed me:
Flashy, if I find out you've been drinking this early, I'm going to have to come out there!
Never fear, dear: I ran out of booze before midnight.