I was pleasantly surprised at the election-night reaction of some conservative bloggers at the group blogs Tigerhawk and The Corner. They stated that Obama was now their president too, they were genuinely happy for the tears of joy coming from the black community; and some even stated the nation should unite around the new leader and work together. Of course some right wingers were the exact opposite, but bile and anger was the reaction I had expected.
So that all is great, but it's harder to figure out how to work with well-meaning people when you have strong policy disagreements. I think the most important thing we can ask of them is not to drop their policy disagreements, but when policies get enacted that they disagree with, to do their best to keep an open mind in judging whether the policies succeed or fail. I guess we should do the same.
Some other possibilities for cooperation include emphasizing governmental transparency and anti-corruption efforts. Democrats' best and worst intentions will be split over this, while out-of-power Republicans have nothing to lose by supporting them. Earmarks aren't the most important problems in the world, but they are bad policy and recipes for corruption. Finally, sunset provisions and measurement metrics as part of new policies and legislation could be agreeable for both sides - to the Democrats who think the policies will succeed, and Republicans who think they'll fail. For example, I'd prefer stronger climate legislation that sunsets in 2020 over weaker legislation that's permanent.
Maybe there's other ways to work together, I don't know. I think the Republicans might have to lose again in 2012 and 2016, and then they might consider changing some of their views on social and environmental policies so that it becomes easier to work together.