CONGRATULATIONS, Democrats: Barack Obama ran an amazing, landmark race. And the Democratic Party has broken with its historic tradition of snatching defeats from the jaws of victory.
Expect the Democrats to stream into Washington and dive into the federal treasury like giddy caddies cannonballing into the swimming pool in Caddyshack. Obama and his allies appear to have their mandate.
Those of us who didn't want this to happen now have two competing hopes:
* The conservative in me hopes that Obama sees the wisdom in governing as a centrist, if not a center-right, president.
Conservatives believe that we have the right solutions to the problems that face all Americans, and that it would be better for the country if Democrats adopted the right policies, even if it helped their party politically.
* The Republican in me hopes for something far different: that the party of Obama runs like the Barack Obama to be found in the man's record, not his rhetoric - that is, as the most leftwing president in modern memory.
Democrats are itching to have their way after spending much of the last eight years doing little much more than shoot spitballs at President Bush while the man fought two conventional wars, as well as a couple monster hurricanes and the much thornier War on Terror.
Well, now the Democratic Party is for all practical purposes America's super-majority party. It has complete control of the presidency and Congress. It's time to put away childish things and govern.
If Democrats govern from the center, good for the country. If they govern from their instincts, good for the Republicans.
Just the other day, Sen. Chuck Schumer said the arguably dumbest thing uttered by a New York politician since Gov. George Pataki claimed his hate-crimes bill would have prevented the Holocaust. Schumer explained that objecting to imposition of the "Fairness Doctrine" - which would silence conservative talk radio - was no different than objecting to keeping hard core porn off broadcast TV.
The same day, a video surfaced in which Democratic Rep. Jim Moran of Virginia ridiculed "the simplistic notion that people who have wealth are entitled to keep it."
Then of course there were the recent revelations that Obama hopes to bankrupt the coal industry and send electricity rates through the roof. He's still on record promising that his first act as president would be to sign a law guaranteeing federally funded abortion on demand.
If that Barack Obama becomes president, if he becomes a rubber stamp for the party of Schumer and Moran (never mind Reid and Pelosi), then the Democrats will walk en masse into the rear rotor blade of a helicopter called the 2010 elections.
If, however, Obama stays true to his promises - mostly implied - of moderation, centrism and the like, then that's about as good news for the country as the right can hope for, given the failures of the GOP brand.
Democracy depends on accountability. The Republicans in many respects deserved to be fired. They spent money like a pimp with a week to live; they lost their way.
But the problem with the two-party system is that when you throw one set of bums out, you have to throw the other party in.
The Democrats deserved to win, if by Democrats you mean "not Republicans." But "not Republican" only works when you're the minority party. Now that they're in charge, the Democrats will define themselves by what they choose to do.
If they choose right, great for us all. If they choose left, great for the Republicans.