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Michael Gerson at The Washington Post:

The 2012 election was a substantial victory not only for President Obama but also for liberalism. Obama built his campaign on abortion rights and higher taxes for the wealthy. He was rewarded by an electorate that was younger, more pro-choice and more racially diverse than in 2008. The Obama coalition is not a fluke; it is a force.

Some conservatives have reacted in the tradition of Cicero: “Oh, the times! Oh, the customs!”Rush Limbaugh concluded, “We’ve lost the country,” which he described as a “country of children.” “There is no hope,” Ann Coulter said. And Bill O’Reilly: “It’s not a traditional America anymore.”

As a matter of strategy, it is generally not a good idea to express disdain for an electorate one hopes to eventually influence.

Amanda Marcotte at USA Today also argues that liberalism was validated at the ballot box and that Republicans must moderate their stances to survive:
After Tuesday's election, if Republicans are smart, they will realize that the culture war just isn't working out for them any longer. Republicans leaned as heavily as ever on social issues and paid the price at the polls. After decades of rewarding Republicans with votes for their scare-mongering over abortion and homosexuality, voters finally turned to social conservatives and said, "Enough." [...]

Republicans used to rely on the culture wars to win elections, but this year shows they can't anymore. Voters, female voters especially, are sick of attacks on gay rights and reproductive rights. Republicans would do well to heed the lessons of this election, and give up on fighting the culture war.

Melinda Henneberger at The Washington Post:
In the final hours of the campaign, Romney either developed never-before-seen acting skills or truly believed he was on the glide path to victory; inside the Fox News bubble, no other outcome seemed possible.

But far more important than any of this, as we look to the future, is that since Romney’s loss, we’ve continued to hear conservatives who do know they are on camera or writing for publications carry right on cementing the impression that they think Obama won only because he was the choice of Moocher Nation: Not only had they failed to “take back America” from the guy Newt Gingrich delighted in calling “the food-stamp president,” but non-white America, they inferred, is not really America at all.

All of which explains how, in a tepid economy, Romney managed to lose the election more than Obama won it. And yet, they’re still at it, with Ole Miss students contributing some standout visuals to the narrative that the GOP is not minority-friendly.

The Bloomberg editorial board argues in favor of immigration reform:
Republicans have two options. They can join the White House in shaping immigration reform, all the while knowing that the president will get the lion’s share of credit. This is politically unappealing in the short term, which is certainly one reason Republicans have resisted it. However, the alternative promises even more dispiriting political consequences.

If Republicans again oppose immigration reform, they risk cementing their reputation as obstructionists and, in the process, tightening the Democrats’ hold on a large and rapidly growing constituency. This is tantamount to political surrender, if not suicide. It would be a terrible outcome for the country and a self-inflicted wound that could hobble national Republican campaigns for years to come.

Tom Cohen at CNN:
Listening to Republicans try to explain what went wrong in their worse-than-expected election thumping reveals a party struggling to define itself amid continuing change in the nation it seeks to lead.
"We have to allow for a period when it's going to be messy and in which there's going to be an attempt for the Republican Party to find it's soul," noted Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. "It's a divided party, it seems to me right now."

The well-known division pits a loud and powerful conservative base, fueled in the past three years by the tea party movement, against a once-prevalent moderate faction now relegated to wing status.

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones looks at the Tea Party's effect on the GOP:
The tea party has done its job, and for all practical purposes its hard-nosed, no-compromise ideology now controls the Republican Party in a way that neither the Birchers nor the Clinton conspiracy theorists ever did. It's no longer a wing of the Republican Party, it is the Republican Party.

So what's next? Having now lost two presidential elections in a row, conventional wisdom says Republicans have two choices. The first is to admit that tea partyism has failed. 2012 was its best chance for victory, and evolving demographics will only make hardcore conservatism less and less popular. As South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham has put it, "We're not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term." So the party will need to moderate or die.

Meanwhile, Paul Krugman at The New York Times points out that the one person who shouldn't compromise his stance is President Obama. Krugman urges against a "grand bargain" and says that the president has no reason to give in to GOP demands on the heels of such a decisive victory:
President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands?

My answer is, not far at all. Mr. Obama should hang tough, declaring himself willing, if necessary, to hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy. And this is definitely no time to negotiate a “grand bargain” on the budget that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

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