…it’s
that the Republican party is tortured with some major restructuring,
that they’re feeling disappointed and divided, that different factions
of the party have turned on each other, that the most important issue
to them is either immigration or the economy (depending on who you
listen to) and even national security (where are the social
conservative issues?) and it’s time to look at rebuilding. Because the
current state is not of a union.

 

I don’t understand the tendency among some of my
conservative friends to “settle” early on. I think that this instinct —
to first dream of Ronald Reagan’s reincarnation and then to immediately
transition into settling, casting aside a viable conservative option —
misses the point of primaries. Senator McCain has served our nation
valiantly, both on the battlefield and off. But he’s also sponsored and
led on legislation that calls into question his conservative
temperament. Some conservatives suffering from Bush fatigue may think
that it is wise to settle early — that they’d rather not be
disappointed again — they’d rather know early on, say, that amnesty
will be par for the course, and at least now they’re prepared.

But I would rather stand on principle than settle today….And I don’t
think that constitutes “derangement.” I think that’s good citizenship.
I think that’s how you keep ideas central, and keep ideas politically
viable — whether you win or lose a given race.

Actually, “winning” and “losing” have taken on a different meaning in these elections.

Since the 2008 campaign began in 2006, it is fitting
that election night came early, the anchors with their big screen maps,
the countdown clocks and rolling tallies and vamping pundits as
everyone waits for the polls to close and the answers to come, at the
end of the beginning of the longest campaign ever. But unlike next
November, when the maps and clocks will return, tonight has its own
rules: for the candidates, coming in second actually counts for
something, and beating your rival is not enough; you have to beat
expectations as well.

Or spin them…

Thus even before Barack Obama racked up his first win in
Georgia, the Clinton campaign held a conference call with reporters and
repeated four times its mantra that “the results tonight will be
inconclusive.”

But they say this much. On the Democratic side, Barack Obama started
a wave and then jumped on it and is riding it deftly. Perceptions
become reality, especially in the pop culture of America. Sen. Obama is
now really leading a movement, an emotional and swelling movement of
people who may not have a clue what his policies or plans are, but who
believe in an idea that he has been able to convey better than just
about anyone else.

The srutiny of what these candidates actually stand for will
certainly come, and hopefully the hard questions will be answered. But
politics are about competing ideas, and Nancy Gibbs at Time captures
the idea that prevailed on Super Tuesday.

For all the focus on the candidates, their strategies
and choices going forward, the clear winner of the night was known
before the very first vote was counted. Despite floods in Indiana and
tornadoes in Tennessee, a disaster declared in Chama, New Mexico, after
33 inches of snow, and temperatures at 50 below in Juneau, Alaska,
still people voted. The storms took the power out at some polling
places in Illinois and Arkansas, and one polling place in New Mexico
had to be moved out of the snowbanks. But still people voted. “I don’t
usually vote in the primary,” said Democrat Sarah Valenciano, 38, of
New Jersey. “I am voting because this year my vote might actually make
a difference.” And that perception, so clearly and widely held, is a
victory for everyone.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....