President-elect Barack Obama won the election and delivered an inspirational speech that left Oprah and Jesse Jackson in tears. Prior to Obama, John McCain delivered a speech that confirmed he's one of the most honest ("The American people have spoken...and they have spoken clearly.") and dignified politicians in American history.
98% of the results have been tallied, and the popular vote breakdown is as follows:
Obama 53%/ McCain 46% / Other Parties 1%
I predicted 53% / 44% / 3%, so I wasn't too far off. I overestimated the support the Green Party, Libertarians and Ron Paul write-ins would receive.
McCain's choice of Palin may be viewed as a poor decision by future historians; however, the theory in picking her was sound. Republicans have two competing strains--one is libertarian-ish, wanting lower taxes, fewer earmarks, less government spending, and smaller government; the other is Christian, wanting religion and their version of family values to be recognized. McCain believed he could attract the libertarian side by himself, so he chose Palin because he thought she could steer the Christian side to his camp. Theoretically, it might have worked, but he was left with what many people thought was more of a political Frankenstein than a perfect compromise.
If Palin really does get enough money to run for election in 2012, I predict another eight years of Democrats in the White House. The road to the American presidency goes through California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, and/or Illinois. It decidedly does not go through Alaska, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky, or Alabama, most of which are losing residents while the less religious states gain residents. Using this electoral vote angle, Hillary Clinton supporters might admit that choosing Barack Obama over Senator Clinton was a wise choice--New Yorkers would vote Democrat anyway, and Obama would guarantee Illinois. The Republicans are now in a poor position--Jeb Bush is political kryptonite because of his family name, and there are few Republican politicians other than Senator McCain and Ron Paul who inspire Americans.
Let this be a lesson to the Republican party: you have to choose sides. Either you return to the prestige and integrity of Eisenhower, Goldwater, or Jefferson, or you take the American people into a religious era in a country that has wisely favored separation of church and state since its inception. In short, does the Republican party want to be the party of freedom and fiscal responsibility, or a conservative Christian party? It is time to choose.
Update on November 6, 2008: Greg Mankiw has similar thoughts on where the Republican Party should go:
Obama's victory speech:
CNN Transcript (Obama)
McCain's concession speech:
CNN Transcript (McCain)