David Frum believes that "the case for conservative reform, however jeered at on Election Night, will emerge stronger and more urgent from the November vote":

Between 2001 and 2007, Republicans gained something they had not had for any comparable length of time since the 1920s: the presidency, plus majorities in both houses of Congress. The results? Not so good. ... Winning elections is great, but it's not an end in and of itself. An election is only a means to an end: governing is the end, governing in ways that benefit the large preponderance of the people, not just a select few.

If you have some governing responsibility in an era of economic crisis (like a House majority), a refusal to offer any constructive policies will hurt you. My one simple hope if we get gridlock is that we can get a grand compromise on the long-term debt. We need some tax hikes, big entitlement cuts - more than the Medicare trims and bend-the-cost-curve hopes of health insurance reform - and defense cuts. Nothing else does the math. In an adult polity, this shoud be discussed, with both parties finding a way to come to the center - as Reagan did with Democrats on tax reform in 1986 and as Clinton did with welfare reform in 1996. It was win-win both times, for both parties and the country. It can and should happen again on the long-term debt.

Perhaps the way forward is a combination of tax reform/simplification and spending cuts/extension of the retirement age. My view is that the American middle will reward those capable of compromise on this. And my suspicion is that this gives the pragmatic president a core advantage over a more ideological opposition. But it also seems to me to represent an opening for a saner Republican, like Mitch Daniels or even a pragmatic version of Paul Ryan. If the Republicans refuse to raise any taxes, they're unserious about the debt. If the Dems won't tackle entitlements more than they have, ditto.

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