So in the process of dealing with last Tuesday, I came to an important realization, and it actually made me feel a lot better. It’s pretty obvious, but I think a lot of people are having trouble getting there. I know I was. Here it is: I’m not responsible for getting Democrats elected. There are paid professionals who are in charge of that. They have to figure out which candidates can win. They have to come up with a message that will appeal to the majority in any electorate. They have to raise the money to run the ads and pay the campaign workers and buy the bumper stickers. None of that is my job.

More importantly, there’s no reason for me to try to pretend to be something I’m not in order to help Democrats get elected. That means that when I’m talking to people, I don’t have to moderate my views to make it seem like I’m more “reasonable” than I really am. Those of you who read this might be confused, because I don’t really bother with moderation when I’m writing for this site. But believe me, when I talk to actual human beings face to face, I generally strike the pose that many liberals do, which is that I’m a moderate who agrees with them on most things and is still going to vote for a Democrat. I have no idea whether that persuades anyone to vote for the candidates I support, but it certainly isn’t any fun for me. Going along to get along sucks.

Ultimately, I have a set of principles that changes very slowly, if at all. My views on how to best serve those principles changes more often, as I get new information. And how I prioritize those principles changes as well (since they’re sometimes in conflict). I vote for the candidates that represent the least compromise of my principles. What I think now is that it’s a lot more important to talk about my principles than to talk about the candidates who are at best imperfect servants of my principles (and probably of their own principles as well).

One thing I’ve detected among liberals after this election is that there seems to be a general sense of outrage that conservatives came out of the booth and said they voted in favor of moral values. I hope that sticks in the craw of liberals everywhere, because as I wrote the other day, we’re values voters too, even if we don’t always think about it that way. This election, I think, has made people start thinking about it that way again. And from here on out, I plan on talking about it that way, regardless of who I’m conversing with. I wasn’t born with the principles that I have, I arrived at them through experience and contemplation, and I’m proud of them. And the best thing about them is that I get to keep them regardless of who’s in the White House or who has a Congressional majority. I hope other liberals feel the same way.