The ad on the very next page of the news magazine, right after the President Reagan cover, sounded like adivce to the Liberal-lorn:

"You better consider Adjustable Life. If you don't you've made a mistake."

Well, Lord knows, the liberal losers may be in the market for insurance. They have limped through these post-election days struggling to adjust to life in the new conservative reality.

In Washington, the paper-work people were churning out resumes and learning to love the Private Sector.

In Philadelphia, a family planning staffer was talking about hibernating for four years in a Jacuzzi.

And in Boston, a couple who spent much of their energy on social issues uncorked the good bottle of wine they'd been saving for better news. They toasted: "Living well is the best revenge."

In short, the people being recast as "The Old Liberals" spent the week wallowing in black robes. They were not mourning for Carter, but for their social causes.

The Reagan "landslide" -- about a quarter of the American electorate actually voted for him -- was less a vote against social change than a vote in favor of leadership change. It was a referendum on economic policies, not ideals.

But that doesn't alter the reality. In regard to women's issues surely, the atmosphere has shifted perceptibly.

Across the county liberals were treated as if they had Dutch elm disease. But they've been replaced by people who rooted in far right soil.

In Congress, the margin of senators, which kept the anti-abortion amendment from being passed in other years, has been decimated. In the executive branch, we seem headed back to the days of the token woman. The Reagan transition team is a very model of Negative Action.

As for the ERA, anybody who can pick three sterling states out of the current voting heap has a better metal detector than I.

It was Margaret Mead who once wrote that the only way to solve the disruption that comes from change is with more change. She was talking about a forward motion; the people in charge now are talking about a backward motion.

It is all enough to make you look longingly at the pictures of Saturn and think of the Long Run.

Once the official period of mourning is over, I doubt that people will spend a four-year term in the Jacuzzi or enter a terminal depression. At the risk of seeming like Polyanna, there is some good news in being relegated to the outside.

The people who support "liberal" ideals of social justice don't have to stand behind "liberal" economic policies anymore.

They aren't stuck defending one party or one president. Outsiders are by definition on the offensive, and that's not a bad place to be right now.

According to the post-election cliche, liberal ideas have gone bankrupt. But the conservatives have yet to offer any shiny new concepts. Their "something old" looked like "something new." But the patina may not last long.

I don't think the people who voted to "get the government off our backs" will want Congress to authorize a constitutional amendment that would invade our private lives.

I don't think the people who voted for economic help will want a new administration to punish the most hard-pressed population, women.

The outsiders are always those who have a fresh chance to point out the contraditions and to organize the opposition. More important, anybody who gets beaten this badly must have done something wrong. Now they have the time and motivation to figure out the new solutions.

Liberals have held the microphone in society for a long time. Now it's their turn to listen, to regroup, to begin again.

In this election we were offered a choice between a muddled vision of a confused American present and a clear vision of a mythical American past. We chose clarity.

But the future is still wide open.

As Barney Frank, one of the few new liberal members of Congress told his Massachusetts supporters on election night: "We're running against the tide. So I'm going to go down there and spawn."

Spawning is a lot more fun than mouring.