Liberals to distraught conservatives: It gets better

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On the morning after the presidential election, David Goodfriend was crushed. Dumbfounded. He sat in his Toyota Corolla in a parking lot next to a hiking trail in Bethesda, listening to talk radio, alone and inert, wondering where it all went wrong.

What just happened?

Why did my candidate lose?

What kind of America am I living in?

“When George W. Bush was re-elected, I thought, ‘This is the end of the country as I know it,’” said Mr. Goodfriend, a Washington lawyer and former Clinton White House staffer. “Those of us who supported John Kerry just couldn’t believe that more people supported Bush. We had one view of the Iraq War and the American economy and were convinced we were right – but Kerry lost.

“This time around, you have people who cannot believe that there are more people who support Barack Obama. They see the economy differently. They see social issues differently. There’s a very close analogy there.”

Indeed. As conservatives mourn – and by mourn, we mean full-on, biblical wailing and teeth-gnashing, and that’s just from Karl Rove – Republican nominee Mitt Romney’s defeat in a contest most on the political right were convinced he would win, they can find consolation in the fact that liberal America has been through the same dark night of the partisan soul: the doubt and disbelief, the anger and finger-pointing, the fuming promises to move to Canada.

(Well, probably not Canada, because it has socialized medicine.)

In fact, conservatives should do more than take solace in past liberal anguish – they should take notes. Because while some on the left aren’t exactly sympathetic regarding the election’s outcome, they do have empathy. And plenty of practical, hard-earned coping advice.

To wit: Democratic strategist and CNN contributor Paul Begala moved past Mr. Kerry’s defeat by refocusing on the 2006 midterm elections, writing a self-critical book with fellow strategist James Carville and spending time coaching his children’s Little League and basketball teams.

“And drinking,” Mr. Begala said in an email interview. “Especially Shiner Bock beer.”

Apocalypse not now

Like Mr. Goodfriend, David Quigg spent the day after the 2004 election in a daze. A 40-year-old photographer and political writer from Seattle, he recalled looking at his two children – one an infant, the other a toddler – and breaking down in tears.

“That surprised me,” Mr. Quigg said. “I had this vision that the world was going to be this place where they were going to have to pretend to be Canadian to travel anywhere, because America’s reputation would be so bad. I wasn’t even angry, just superdepressed. I suspect that is probably similar to what conservatives are feeling now.”

Perhaps. Not to put too fine a point on it, but some on the right are, well, freaking out. Consider:

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