Perhaps I will wake up tomorrow to find that my nightmare was only a dream and Barack Obama did not really win another four years in the White House. I suppose one can be forgiven for hoping, but the sad fact is that my wish is just a pipedream.  In yesterday’s conclusion to the long and bitterly fought presidential campaign of 2012, Obama won and America lost.  Like conservatives throughout the country I am down, distressed, and worried about our country’s future.  But how should we respond?

Another four years of Barack Obama in the Oval Office is the worst-case scenario for Americans who are concerned about the on-going economic and moral decay in our country.  I mentioned that—like conservatives everywhere—I am down, and it’s true.  But I am not out. I will not stop fighting for the America our Founders gave us and that, in my opinion, is how conservatives should respond to Obama’s re-election.  For me then, today represents not the beginning of the end for our country, but rather the first day in the next battle to reclaim the America of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Reagan.  For conservatives, the presidential election of 2016 begins today.

The first thing conservatives can do is take stock of what just happened.  Romney won in those portions of our country inhabited by hardworking Americans who obey the law and pay their taxes—the type of people who made America great.  Obama won in those large urban centers where a sizeable portion of America’s welfare recipients, illegal immigrants, and low-income citizens reside.  In other words, Romney won the “maker” vote and Obama won the “taker” vote.

For the moment, the takers in America and those who retain their elected positions in government by pandering to them appear to be in the ascendency. But they are heading down a dead-end street.  This trend toward rewarding the less productive citizens of our nation while penalizing the more productive is self-defeating by its very nature and cannot long endure.  Even the worst of the takers will understand that it is they themselves who have been taken when there are no longer enough makers to finance government entitlement programs.  Even the worst takers in America will wake up to reality when all they receive in their mailbox on entitlement day is an IOU.  Conservatives should spend the next four years spreading this message in all possible venues—local, state, and national. Indeed, we should and must be prepared to unapologetically say, “I told you so.”

Another thing conservatives can do is begin right now doing the legwork necessary to elect conservative officials at all levels of government in all 50 states.  Don’t sit around moping over Obama’s win, and don’t sit back and wait until 2015 to engage.  Start working right now to put people in office at the local, state, and national levels who believe in limited government, low taxation, free-market economics, individual liberty, personal responsibility, military preparedness, constitutional sovereignty, and traditional American values.  These are the foundational principles of conservatism and of America’s Founders.  Right now conservative principles have fallen out of fashion in America and have been supplanted by the counterproductive principles of the left such as class envy, victimhood, entitlement, and sloth.

Ironically though, it will be Barack Obama who will give Americans the impetus to turn away from class envy, victimhood, entitlement, and sloth and turn toward the conservative principles that made America great.  Presidents typically do not fare well in their second terms, and this will be especially the case for Barack Obama.  According to a survey of economists conducted by the Associated Press, America’s economy is going to continue sputtering along at around two percent growth—provided, of course, it does fall backwards into a new recession, the income of Americans will continue to trail inflation for at least three more years, and the job market will continue to be tight and remain near eight percent.  In other words, the glitter will wear off of Barack Obama during his second term and even the takers will begin to look for someone with better answers.

Those with better answers will be the aspiring leaders among us who believe in and openly espouse the foundational principles of our Founding Fathers.  Like organizations that go astray from their basic competencies and core values, America is heading fast in the wrong direction.  But if conservatives stick together, begin the hard work ahead of us right now, and persevere, we can still turn our country around.  We are down, but not out.  Let’s get up off the mat and win this fight.