Barack Obama won the presidential election on Nov. 6. And no matter what your political affiliation or how you voted, America will be OK.
Even those people who believe Obama will ruin the country must recognize that we do not live in a parliamentary system. If the last four years have proved anything, he cannot rule by fiat. There’s an institution on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington called the U.S. House of Representatives. And it’s run by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who had this to say before the election about the prospect of raising taxes on those making more than $250,000 a year, a key Obama proposal.
“Listen, our majority is going to get re-elected,” Boehner said in an interview with Politico. “We’ll have as much of a mandate as he will - if that happens - to not raise taxes.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had this to say about working with a potential President Mitt Romney.
“Mitt Romney’s fantasy that Senate Democrats will work with him to pass his ‘severely conservative’ agenda is laughable,” Reid said. “Senate Democrats are committed to defending the middle class, and we will do everything in our power to defend them against Mitt Romney’s tea party agenda.”
Some Americans, particularly partisans, go to the ballot box placing great hope in the presidential candidate they vote for and the promises he has made. But our divided Congress isn’t going anywhere. Presidents don’t just snap their fingers and get what they want.
Nevertheless, the Republican Party has some soul searching to do. American democracy works when it has two strong political parties. The Republicans have lost two presidential elections in a row and four of the last six. In those six, the Republican nominee received 37.5 percent, 41 percent, 47.9 percent, 50.7 percent, 45.7 percent and roughly 49 percent of the vote.
In all likelihood, the GOP base will interpret the results as a message that it should be even more conservative. But we doubt that yanking the party more to the right will endear it to young people, women, blacks and Hispanics, groups repelled by the party’s positions on many issues, particularly abortion rights, gay rights and immigration.
“If we lose this election, there is only one explanation - demographics,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a conservative reformer in the party, told Politico before the election.
Graham, like former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, would look to find ways to quit alienating groups that are ascending. The Republican formula for victory depended on Romney winning 60 percent or more of the white vote. That was a losing formula four years ago, it was a losing formula this year and it will be even more of a losing formula in the decades to come.
“If I hear anybody say it was because Romney wasn’t conservative enough, I’m going to go nuts,” Graham said before the election of a Romney loss. “We’re not losing 95 percent of African-Americans and two-thirds of Hispanics and voters under 30 because we’re not being hard-ass enough.”
The Republicans might look to the British Conservative Party and Prime Minister David Cameron, who has found ways to appeal to younger voters with more tolerant social views while maintaining the party’s fiscal credentials. Cameron has managed to shed the Conservatives’ image as “the nasty party.”
As for Obama, he has a long list of accomplishments. If he’d lost, he would have achieved the most consequential one-term presidency since John F. Kennedy, having taken action to prevent a second Great Depression, saved the American automotive industry, given the order that killed Osama bin Laden, embraced full marriage rights for gays and passed a law ensuring everyone has access to health insurance.
But Obama barely bothered to campaign on what he would do in a second term. He may have best described his goals in an interview with the Des Moines Register in October, saying he expected to cut a “grand bargain” with Boehner on fiscal and entitlement reform to save $4 trillion, pass reforms to give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship and reform the corporate tax code by reducing the rate, eliminating loopholes and broadening the number of corporations that pay.
Had Obama talked more about those worthy ideas, this election might not have been such a close, bitter exercise.
— GateHouse News Service