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Recently, when I was out for a cheer-up drink with a Democratic pal, he insisted on paying the tab. "This is on me," he said, uncharacteristically. Then he grabbed my arm and looked me dead in the eye. "Don't let one election cripple your party," he said. "You guys need to get your act together and then come back swinging." This from a man who drives a Nissan Leaf and refuses to eat anything with a face.
I should take his kindness at face value. It sucks to lose, and who would know that better than a Gore-Lieberman 2000 bundler? Maybe he remembers the sting of losing to the (to them, at least) bafflingly popular George W. Bush. Maybe he recalls the giddy delusions of his ilk on Election Day 2004, and the shell shock the day after, when W. grinned from the front page of the New York Times. Maybe in my eyes he sees something familiar: the pain of someone whom the voters have rejected.
Or maybe, and I'm thinking wishfully here, some of my Democratic friends realize that keeping the GOP strong and healthy is a desirable thing. We're the snarling pitbull on the very heavy leash: menacing, but a useful brake on the more ridiculous elements in the majority party. Republicans may lose the popular vote a lot, but those same voters want to keep us around to prevent Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi from giving every American free mani-pedis--the only thing the federal government doesn't yet dole out--for life.
Sorry. That last part was bitter and unseemly. And it isn't a fair way to repay the kindness I've been shown. If we win again--no, wait, when we win again--I'll try to remember it.
Long is a contributing editor at National Review and the editor of Ricochet.com