t appears that the world only has room for one miracle this year, and since the Boston Red Sox had already captured it, did we really think John F. Kerry would actually be elected president? Yes, many of us did, but now, America will have to endure four more painstaking years of a Bush presidency in which his right-wing agenda can be pushed with even greater vigor. On the bright side, at least we already know what to expect: further alienation from our allies, continued erosion of our democracy, an increase in the gap between the rich and poor, a new conservative Supreme Court justice, a possible constitutional ban on gay marriage — essentially a regression back to the Middle Ages.

You will have to excuse my bitter sarcasm, but for me and for many other liberals on this campus and across the United States, the feeling of isolation and confusion is beginning to set in. Now I know what it must feel like to be a conservative on this campus because the position of liberals in America is analogous to it. We are living in a conservative America, as much as I hate to actually admit it. So, where did Democrats go wrong? What has happened to the party? Why do the American people really believe that Bush is fighting for them? For us, the choice of who should lead our country back on the right course seemed so obvious.

The answers to the previous questions I will leave to the political science experts and pundits. For the sake of our nation, Democrats do not have the time to complain, to whine, to be bitter or to be pessimistic, and I commend John Kerry for conceding Wednesday morning and not drawing out the process. We cannot waste our time worrying about why the American people voted the way they did. Naturally, it is the initial reaction to be upset, but this is a wake-up call loud and clear. Democrats can joke about wanting to secede or move to Canada or Europe, but we cannot be serious about it. We especially are not, as one Yalie has suggested, seceding from the United States and then colonizing the South; after all, we oppose imperialism.

If anything, we have to stay and continue to fight for our beliefs and for the America that we know can do better. Trust me, nothing would please me more than spending the next four years in some exotic locale, but that would be the easy route to take, and I love this country too much to lose faith. If anything, Tuesday’s election actually added fuel to the fire. We must stay and hold Bush accountable for every policy decision he makes that could further divide our country or erode its democratic principles.

And in the meantime, we have the following reasons to stay positive and optimistic:

1. Barack Obama. He promises to be a shining star within the Democratic Party and a voice for minorities who may go unheard in Bush’s second term.

2. The Clintons. They are still alive and well, and I have no doubt that they will be planning, calculating and contemplating the future of the Democratic Party.

3. Jon Stewart. Where would liberals be without this man? While the cable news channels play softball with the president, Stewart will continue to call out the hypocrisy that is Bush and his administration. (I have reached the point where levity is needed.)

4. The increased interest in politics. This election saw a wave of new voters who ranged from young to old and were from all different backgrounds. While this should have favored Kerry, at least now more people are starting to take an interest and will pay better attention to the policies of the Bush administration. Maybe now, this country can engage in a real dialogue.

5. Us. The bleeding die-hard liberals that are on this campus. The ones who worked so hard and put so much time and energy into Kerry’s campaign. The ones who think there is a better course of action than the one Bush is giving us. The ones who want to see the continued success of our country without sacrificing the democratic principles we preach to the rest of the world. Those of us who believe we do not lack moral principles simply because we believe in the right to choose. Those who favor diplomacy instead of war. Those who believe religion and politics should never mix. Those who are the future of the Democratic Party. If we truly believe ourselves to be the next leaders of this country, then I foresee great things for America.

Even though there’s room for optimism, we can’t be complacent. We must convince the American people that our country benefits more under the leadership of someone who plays well with others, who recognizes America’s strength in its diversity, who places the welfare of the less fortunate above increasing his own wealth, and who does not judge others’ values by his own beliefs. So, the question becomes, how does the Democratic Party reshape its message to convince the American people of this? Well, we won’t find the answer by cowering and hiding for four years. We start now, and we start with a new vision and a new approach.

Alicia Washington is a senior in Trumbull College. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays.