2004 was a more difficult year for me than 2000. 2000 was the first political election I followed with any level of sophistication (I was 14), and it was an education to be sure. I first voted in 2004, however, and that year stung, because I saw a country which had seen what President Bush had wrought upon the nation, and still a majority of Americans re-elected him. If you want to search through my archives from that time period, you'll see that I was not a happy camper.
I asked then that my conservative friends not gloat at me, and it is only fair that I oblige them back. Many Republicans are, obviously, quite unhappy with this result. Believe me, I've been there. But I want to take this moment to reach out to you. John McCain got the votes of 46% of all Americans. Given that President Bush's approvals are in the mid-20s, there are plenty of folks out there who preferred McCain, who still recognize that something went fundamentally wrong over the last 8 years. Many of these problems are one's that will require bi-partisan efforts to correct. Restoring impartiality to the Justice Department. Rooting out corruption and politicization in bureaucratic agencies. Restoring balances on executive power. These are things which Republicans and Democrats can, and I hope, will work together to achieve vibrant and sustainable solutions.
On many other issues, conservatives and liberals remain quite a ways apart. And that's okay. This year, the electorate gave progressives a sweeping mandate for change. Obama's electoral college tallies are approaching rout levels, and on the Congressional and Senate side, Democrats still performed quite strongly (though slightly below the optimistic estimates that came forth over the last month or so). We will take this historic opportunity as a chance to prove that progressive ideas work. But conservatives can and should continue to pitch their best laid plans to the public and on the House and Senate floor. Barack Obama was a former faculty member here at Chicago Law School, and one of my professors today noted that Sen. Obama has an openness to ideas that is rare amongst the political set. If you pitch your plans and proposals in good faith, with an eye towards getting bills and past and moving our nation forward, then I pledge as a Democrat to listen.
The greatest break we could make from the last eight years, would be to heed Barack Obama's advice from four years ago. If we will it, we can cease to be a collection of red states and blue states. Working together, we are more. We are the United States.