What a night!

For those of us in the progressive camp, it went at least as well as we could imagine: a solid (if close) Obama win; a pick-up of some Senate seats, partly brought on by the defeat of what I call the “pro-rape coalition” of Neanderthals Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock. Legalization of both marijuana and gay marriage in a few states — the first time such measures have actually won a general vote. Dylan nailed this one: the times they indeed are-a-changin’. For many of us, it wasn’t a moment too soon.

But still, much remains to be done: will the Obama camp drop their continued (if somewhat halfhearted) pursuit of the fruitless “war on drugs”? Will they overturn the Defense of Marriage Act? Will they go forth and enact “Obamacare” as promised? Will they tackle longstanding inefficiencies and unfairnesses in the immigration system? Will they indeed push for a future that’s less dependent on dirty, climate-altering, nonrenewable, depleting fossil fuels? I could go on.

If the mood this time around is less unabashedly jubilant than last, it’s because maybe we, collectively, have a clearer picture of the enormous work that still needs to be done — and we’re also less sanguine about the prospect of “reaching across the aisle.” In my years in this country, I’ve watched the continued devolution of “conservatism” from a movement emphasizing cautious-minded retention of core values into one that’s angry, deranged, nativist, theocratic. Free-market fundamentalist to a degree that would make Morgan and Rockefeller cringe. Bits of it make sense; most of it is hateful and brutish and belongs nowhere in an advanced democracy.

It’s that sometimes hard lesson that we bring the morning after: if Republicans indeed are what they are, it’s time to stop harboring illusions about bipartisanship and begin forging a future without them. Be bold, Barry. You’ve got a four year runway with no more elections to win. Way I see it, America faces a choice: it can remain an indispensable nation, a pre-eminent technological, economic, and military power whose great wealth can be used to help build a productive, just, outward-looking society. Or it can shrink backward into 18th-century ideology, turning itself into an irrelevant, paranoid, neo-gilded-age banana republic. This election laid the choice bare — and I, for one, am heartened that we pulled the lever forward, not back.

Now let’s go turn those votes into action.