Spaniard's Bay, NEWFOUNDLAND - In hoping for the best with Senator John F. Kerry's bid for the presidency, we failed to prepare for the worst: George W. Bush appears to have been elected president for another four years.The worst part of Bush's victory is not that his next term will continue to push this nation's citizens away from each other, or that his illiberal policies on education, the environment, consumer rights, racial equality, civil liberties and foreign policy will render the political reality of the United States unrecognizable to us.

The worst part is that in electing Mr. Bush, America gave his administration a vote of confidence. The country endorsed a regime of monumental duplicity, one that shuns not only every item on the progressive agenda for the 21st century but many reforms dating back to the New Deal. And after 1,382 days of retrograde policy, the electorate has certified Mr. Bush's misdeeds for all the world to see.

That we have rubber-stamped stupidity is the most lamentable result of the 2004 election. It is why the editorial board has, at least in spirit, relocated to the eastern reaches of Canada. But we cannot stay here for long. (Canada won't grant political asylum to Americans.) And the truth is, the idea of leaving for good was always unthinkable.

Reflecting on Bush's victory is a sobering experience, which is welcomed only in one respect: The many kegs around campus primed for celebration last night were instead consulted for consolation. On the whole, however, registering defeat in this election means feeling ideologically isolated.

What's an American to do now if he is planning to raise children in a country where the government won't fund any sex education that steps outside the Biblically-backed bounds of teaching abstinence? What's an American to do now if she is forced to sacrifice her civil liberties for the sake of homeland security, only to find out that the country's zealous efforts abroad are increasing her risk at home?

What's an American to do now if he thinks the middle class should be growing-not shrinking, as more citizens fall below the poverty line? What's an American to do now if she believes that miracles can extend into the realm of science, that it is dangerous to legislate one's faith, that stem-cell research should be continued, that a woman's right to choose never should be abridged?

After today, Americans find themselves more divided than they have been in our lifetimes. Those who voted against Mr. Bush formed inadvertently one of the largest counter-culture movements in American history. As for the pro-Bush electorate, we cannot decide what is worse: a fellow American wholly subscribing to the neo-conservative catechism or the phenomenon of the single-issue voter, which was odiously present in this election.

In the end, it probably doesn't matter. Simply put, there was something more compelling about the Republican platform to a majority of Americans. Duplicity or chicanery cannot account for a lead of four million in the popular vote. Instead, we have to ask why Mr. Bush's platform resonates with many Americans in spite of a large minority's vehement-almost categorical-opposition to it.

In general, Americans are not stupid. But they cannot always be expected to know what is best for the country. This page, for instance, hasn't the foggiest idea how to get the nation out of Iraq without seeing the ravaged country transform the Middle East into one gigantic terrorist training camp. So, we look to politicians to make difficult choices for us and, hopefully, in our best interests.

There is rarely a presidential candidate who has both solutions and the ability to illustrate them to voters. Mr. Kerry might have had some solutions, but he obviously could not deliver that message, in spite of overwhelming victories in the presidential debates. It is regrettable that the Democrats did not produce a candidate capable of electrifying their base and attracting new voters. Instead, Rev. Al Sharpton, whose loss in the primaries was a foregone conclusion, was cited as the most interesting and compelling Democratic candidate even up until Election Day.

This election should not produce either resignation or resentment. Instead, it should be a call to action. There must be a reason why a reactionary voice in America has become more palatable than a liberal or even moderate one. If the message of the Left does not change somehow, as a result of this election, then neither will the results of subsequent ones. But if liberalism can resonate again in the minds of Americans, we won't need to contemplate Newfoundland. Now, that's something worth fighting for.