So where do we go from here? The obvious temptation for Republicans is to compromise. Gracious in defeat, magnanimous in victory, right? Wrong. For the last four years, we've heard about how "divided" we are. We've heard about how this is a 50-50 country. And yet, somehow, over the last four years, Republicans have opened a lead on the Democrats. The last four years have marked the most dominant period in Republican politics since the 1920s; 2004 was the first election since 1924 where Republicans made gains in the House and Senate while re-electing an incumbent to the White House. President Bush won the most popular votes in the history of this country and won the first popular majority since his father in 1988.
What got President Bush and the Republican Party to this point was not "moderation." President Bush didn't campaign toward the middle. Forging compromise on education and health care did little to alleviate the aggravation of the left. Barring some unforeseen drinking incident, Teddy Kennedy will still be leading the Democrats in the Senate during President Bush's next term. Hillary will still be lurking in the background as well, unless Rudy Giuliani decides to knock her off her broomstick. The tone in Washington isn't likely to turn friendly anytime soon.
President Bush campaigned on solid conservative values, and he won on those values. His stances on terrorism and morality won him this election by over 3 million votes. Eleven states had marriage-protection initiatives on their ballots; it's no accident that Bush won 10 of those states. The Republican get-out-the-vote effort targeted silent conservatives, not the typical "swing voters." With the cyclical economic cycle headed for a boom during Bush's second term, Republicans are in excellent shape if they can cut government spending.
And this term will be crucial. President Bush will likely have to replace at least one Supreme Court justice and probably two. He will have to stabilize Iraq. He will have to deal with the threat of a quasi-nuclear Iran. But he will not have to overextend in order to reach across the political aisle. This election was a victory. Let the Democrats worry about appeasing the burgeoning conservative majority.