Many Americans are jubilant today. Some are not. What are conservatives to think and feel today in the wake of defeat? In answering these questions, Tony Blankley quotes one of my favorite poets:

Bring me my Bow of burning gold:

Bring me my Arrows of desire:

Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!

Bring me my Chariot of fire.

I will not cease from Mental Fight,

Nor shall my Sword sleep in my hand

Till we have built Jerusalem

In England’s green & pleasant Land.

Blankley explains:

“In regard to attitude, America’s conservatives could do worse than to be moved by those lines of Robert Blake from another place and another time on behalf of a similar sacred cause then not yet realized.

“Conservatism always has been and always will be a force to reckon with because it most closely approximates the reality of the human condition, based, as it is, on the cumulative judgment and experience of a people. It is the heir, not the apostate, to the accumulated wisdom, morality and faith of the people.”

Conservatives can take heart that the race was much closer than expected. It wasn’t a rout. Byron York notes:

“The vote totals, as of 2 a.m. Eastern Time, show McCain with about 47 percent of the national popular vote. Perhaps that figure will go down a bit, but there’s no doubt that McCain far outshone George H.W. Bush’s 1992 re-election effort – a campaign undertaken in poor conditions for a Republican, but not nearly as bad as what McCain encountered this time – in which Bush won just 38 percent of the vote. Likewise, McCain outperformed Bob Dole, who won a little less than 41 percent in 1996. And McCain’s percentage of the popular vote might be not too far from George W. Bush’s in 2000, when Bush lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College.

“In other words, McCain, facing tougher challenges than his predecessors, yet somehow managed to win more votes. Just not enough.”

Anger is ugly but it’s a great motivator. It animated the netroots which contributed mightily to the Democratic party’s move towards the left and perhaps to last night’s election. But I hope conservatives will not turn to that kind of anger (for one thing, it would be, while admittedly exhilarating, difficult to live with on a daily basis). Michael Novak addresses this in a piece entitled “We Have a President:”

 ”[N]ow is not the time to rehearse the grave doubts about Obama that were part of the partisan battle of the last two years. Barack Obama is now the president-elect of all of us. Now is the time to praise the brilliant, audacious, and wonderfully surprising campaign that President-elect Obama conducted. He overcame many obstacles. He held up better under fire than many of us expected him to do. He deserves much praise.”

One of the ugliest things hatred and anger did was to cause Americans to treat their 43rd President in a disgraceful manner. As Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a lawyer and investigative reporter who previously interned with John Kerry, notes:

“Our failure to stand by the one person who continued to stand by us has not gone unnoticed by our enemies. It has shown to the world how disloyal we can be when our president needed loyalty — a shameful display of arrogance and weakness that will haunt this nation long after Mr. Bush has left the White House.”

Now is a day to think, not partisan thoughts, but of the future of our nation.