So. Obama did it. Both the popular vote (by a substantial margin) and the electoral vote (by what can only be called a landslide). Disappointing.
But not the end of the world, or even the end of this country, as we know it. I am on record as proclaiming that this country is greater than any man who leads it and we have elected a president, not annointed a king. The Democratic party did not achieve a filibuster-proof majority in either house. (Query to conservatives: now do you see how misguided your objection to filibustering court nominees was? I thought you would come around.) It is true that the presidency has had undue influence and power for the past few decades, and a Democratic majority in both houses can only increase that power, but it is still limited by the constitution and by the court of public opinion.
I haven't had a chance to fully listen to Obama's acceptance speech, but the excerpts I have read show the Obama that I first became impressed with: unifying, patriotic and mature. It is as foolish, of course, to judge a man's future presidcency based on his acceptance speech as it is to expect the Declaration of Independence to have controlling authority over the nation's laws. But it is reasonable to expect both men and nations to be inspired by the ideals that they proclaim. One of Obama's greatest liabilities, his perceived elitism, thus becomes our greatest strength. I am sure he will do much to preserve this theme of high-mindedness, and it will be the job of conservatives to hold him to it.
Now that we have been decisively defeated, conservatives need to take a moment to reflect on the fundamental principles of conservativism: the rule of law, limited government, planning for the future and civil discourse. Mr. Obama has been duly elected and has thus inherited all of the powers that that have been vested in the presidency over the years. If we now think those powers too great, it is because we did not, when we held them, take sufficient care to limit them for future generations. It is pointless, now, to complain that we have been used unfairly by the electorate, since we did little to defend conservative principles when we had the pulpit. In any case, we should avoid making fools of ourselves by threatening to disown the presidency. (Note: in all fairness, I cannot find an original source for that quotation. I am sure Althouse is quoting Limbaugh accurately, but she does not provide a link and I cannot tell if there is extenuating context.)
God always gives us the government we ask for, but it is our task to ask for the right things. St. Paul reminds us: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves." (Rom 13:1-2) During the next four years Christians of the Anglican tradition will be praying for President Obama using the following words:
O LORD our Governor, whose glory is in all the world; We commend this nation to thy merciful care, that being guided by thy Providence, we may dwell secure in thy peace. Grant to the President of the United States, and to all in authority, wisdom and strength to know and to do thy will. Fill them with the love of truth and righteousness; and make them ever mindful of their calling to serve this people in thy fear; through Jesus Christ our LORD, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.Amen.
UPDATE: Here are some similar thoughts from other bloggers
1. The incomparable Steven Den Beste makes many of the same points. A slightly more negative tone and without the religious ending, but well worth reading (as always).
2. Scott at Powerline describes ten lessons we can learn from the Obama presidency. Some of this is a bit too semiotic for my taste, but this struck a chord: "8. Despite his thoroughgoing liberalism, Obama did not run as a liberal."
3. Jeniffer Rubin at Pajamas Media notes 30 errors that McCain made. Some of the points are a bit redundant (the list could easily have been pared down to 20 with a little editing). Note especially the points that deal with failure to communicate a conservative message (eg 4, 6, 28, 30, etc.)
4. My favorite law blogger, Randy Barnett of the Volokh Conspiracy, points out 3 solid bits of good news. (For some reason I can't get that link to work correctly. You may have to scroll down a bit to find Barnett's comments.)