Conservatives who sought to prevent McCain's nomination cannot be blamed for his defeat. And it is his defeat, not yours.
Ideologues tend to see election results in ideological terms. Right now, "progressives" are congratulating themselves on the triumph of progressivism. But Obama will be the next president because millions of non-ideological "swing" voters -- those I call the Ordinary Americans -- saw him as the superior candidate. A vote for him was not, in the eyes of those key voters, an endorsement of any ideology.
Good candidates win elections, and bad candidates lose. John McCain was a bad candidate and he lost. Those who try to put an ideological spin on this election will miss that basic point.
Don't blame yourself, and don't listen to the pundits who are trying to spin Tuesday's result as demonstrating the failure of conservatism. The only failure of conservatism in this election cycle was the failure to produce a consensus alternative to McCain.
Last night, at an Election Night party at the National Taxpayers Union in Alexandria, Va., none of the conservative activists were in tears over McCain's defeat -- although some of them were among the same Romney supporters who'd cried when their candidate quit in February.
What I saw last night was a clear-eyed determination to move forward with the conservative agenda in the Obama era. As Paul Jacobs of Citizens in Charge told me, "We've got 'em right where we want 'em.… There is no way that Obama and the Democrats can live up to expectations." Dry it up and move forward. We're at rock bottom, with nowhere to go but up.