So many answers, so little time. Select any response below, or mix and match --
It was a crushing defeat for conservatives.
If the President could declare his squeaky-thin margin in 2004 a "mandate," then it's fair game to declare anything a victory.
Liberals didn't lose any seats, so - given the past 12 years - that's a victory all by itself.
A little bit, yes.
It was a victory for Democrats.
It was a huge victory for Democrats.
"I'll take 'Potent Potables' for 200, Alex."
Pick one: would you rather call this a victory for liberals, or for moderate Democrats like Hillary Clinton?
We all won, group hug.
It got Donald Rumsfeld fired, and if that isn't a victory what liberals, what is? Of course, that's also a victory for the Green Party, Independents, Libertarians, the Farm-Labor Party, Iraq, the Whig Party, and Americans in Favor of Getting Rid of the Designated Hitter in Baseball.
Anything that could help bring about that "Father Knows Best" cover on Newsweek was worth it, and you can call it whatever you want.
After the election, the daily mantra from battled-scarred conservatives has been fascinating. While crushed by broken legs, heads bloodied, and on life support, they prop themselves up on their one good arm and with pleading eyes whisper the one thing they desperately need to express lest they expire first: "This wasn't a victory for liberals."
You want to cradle them and say, "Buddy, you got a whole lot worse problems to worry about than that."
I'll go a step further: it's their angst-ridden crusade against "The L Word" that got Republicans into this political I.C.U. to begin with. Rather than deal with what's best for America or practice their profession fairly, Republicans have followed the lead of Ronald Reagan and eventually twisted themselves into their own personal hell. The K Street Project was the symbolic emblem of this, wanting to keep every nickel for themselves. Trying to lock out every Democrat from the political process. Locking out even moderate Republicans, if they could. By building a wall to keep out others, they ended up locking themselves in. Mr. Reagan, tear down this wall.
And so conservatives tie themselves into convoluted knots, begging anyone to hear that their devastating loss wasn't a victory for liberals. Can you imagine? They'd rather promote that Republicans lost because of overseeing the most disastrous war in American history, because of profoundly deep ethical and legal violations, because they allowed an American city to be wiped off the map- than have people think it was a victory for liberals!
As a friend of mine says, "What's up with that?"
Was this a victory for liberals? What difference does it make? The Democrats won, and so they control of the Speaker of the House, and committee chairmanships in both the House and Senate. That matters.
Moreover, the only reason this election wasn't a tsunami is because the GOP had gerrymandered districts so heavily in their favor. Only a year ago, analysts thought Democrats might not win any new seats. Instead they got a landslide.
Republicans like to point out that some conservative Democrats won. Fair enough. Some did. Some. That's because the alternative was worse. Keep in mind that a conservative Democrat is equivalent to a moderate Republican.
Keep in mind, too, that the new Congress will be less conservative than the current one. If you want to annoy a Republican, tell them that means Congress, by definition, will be more liberal. And that means this was a victory for liberals. The argument might be semantics - but it's still true.
Republicans like to state that the country is more conservative than it used to be. But when George Bush was first elected President, more of the country voted for the Democrat. For that crazy, environmentalist Al Gore. That wasn't a Conservative Country. And when the GOP won its subsequent elections, it wasn't that the country was conservative but rather it was attacked, at war, and terrified by continual government alerts. When the country finally figured that out...surprise, they voted for a Democratic landslide.
And still, the only thing that matters to conservatives is that this election not be seen as a victory for liberals.
Was this a victory for liberals? Who cares, other than frightened Republicans. And if once again they want to keep pointing fingers everywhere rather than address real problems and reality, let them. It'll keep them occupied and not attacking some other country on a lie.
But whoever the victory is for (I like to think it was for America...), I refuse to let Republicans continue to demonize the word "liberal," either for the present or future, or to smear its glorious past.
The bottom line is that Democrats have to prove they're worthy of the majority. Meanwhile, if Republicans want rest on the comfort that this wasn't a Victory for Liberalism and that the country is still conservative, they're going to find they're resting in a deep hole.