Republicans took it more on the chin Tuesday than conservatives did.
For one thing, a lot of the Democrats elected to Congress are plenty to the right of Nancy Pelosi.
For another thing, consider how voters across the nation answered very loaded questions put to them on the ballot Tuesday:
- Seven of eight states voted to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Arizona voters may have rejected their chance to do so in order to protect unmarried heterosexual couples.
- South Carolina voters defended traditional marriage with 78 percent of the vote; Tennessee voters made it 81 percent.
- Colorado voters rejected not only gay marriage but civil unions - as well as recreational use of marijuana.
- Michigan voters decided 58 percent to 42 percent to end racial and sexual preferences in school admissions and state hiring and contracting.
So, it's not as if there were a liberal tsunami Tuesday. Conservative principles actually did very well in the election.
Republicans did not, simply because they'd lost sight of conservative principles.
They've got less than two years to figure that out.
Meanwhile, conservatives are starving for leadership.
Many look to the Libertarian Party, which recognizes the desperate need for less government in our lives. America became the most powerful, prosperous nation on Earth not because of taxes and regulations; we did it through individual freedom. But that freedom is threatened ever more by bigger government, more socialistic programs and the taxes needed to support both.
Trouble is, the third party has yet to demonstrate an ability to influence the political tides. So conservatives are left without a go-to leader - as they used to have in Ronald Reagan.
All great movements must have great leaders. And they founder without them. The civil rights movement has never seen anything approaching the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Worldwide movements for peace and human rights have lots of fringe elements, and the occasional attention-getter like Cindy Sheehan, but no over-arching leader that commands world respect and admiration like Pope John Paul II or Mother Teresa.
And isn't that a shame? Couldn't we use them today?
President George W. Bush paraded himself as a compassionate conservative when he first ran - but ended up looking like neither. He certainly hasn't been the conservative many had hoped for. His nomination of Harriet Miers for the U.S. Supreme Court caused a conservative riot. On his watch, federal spending and debt have hit the stratosphere. And look for him to now find common ground with Democratic leaders on amnesty for illegal aliens.
Republicans need to become the party of Reagan again. They need to offer conservative leadership again.
Conservatives need to take solace in Tuesday's election; it wasn't a bad year for conservative causes after all.
And somehow, Republicans and conservatives need to get together again.