On the face of it, the 220-215 win for the Democrats' health reform bill in the House of Representatives on Saturday November 7 is a discouraging moment for conservatives.
But let us look on the bright side.
If the United States is to turn from the path of ever-increasing government, then there will have to be a decisive battle over the future of the country.
The politics of the last decade, of so-called 50-50 America, has been a period in which neither side in the great debate attempted to go for a big win.
Bill Clinton was elected in the aftermath of the Bush recession, and found pretty quickly that he didn't have a mandate for comprehensive government health care. So he trimmed his sails and tried to do the same thing incrementally.
President Bush never tried to go whole hog on the conservative agenda. He just tried to get whatever the political process would allow him. Education? Ted Kennedy put the hammer down to prevent school choice. Taxes? Democrats were completely opposed, so the Bush tax cuts were temporary. Medicare drug benefit? Bush passed the least bureaucratic solution possible.
But when Democrats elected Barack Obama last year they decided to push for a breakout. So this year they have been running a cram-down, trying to get all of their signature agenda items passed before opposition could mobilize.
Obviously they have failed to do that. But like World War I generals, they are unwilling to call off the offensive once it becomes clear that a breakout is impossible.
Really, our Democratic friends are presenting conservatives and Republicans with a gift. They are creating the opportunity, as their advance grinds to a halt, for a decisive counter-offensive. If Democrats lose 50 or more seats in the House next year, and if Obama loses in 2012 it will be a decisive message from the American people to the political class.
It will say that the expansion of government power of the last century is over. It will say that the American people really do believe in freedom.
But first we have to win, baby.