Now that the re-election victory by President Barack Obama is in the books, there’s a question on a lot of Americans’ minds:
Where do we go from here?
It still may be a little early for party leaders to focus on that. Democrats are in a state of euphoria over keeping the White House for four more years and expanding their majority in the Senate. The Electoral College vote that most political forecasters were predicting would be close and some were even tipping toward Republican challenger Mitt Romney was neither. Obama’s campaign team got out the vote and he took at least six of the eight states that were considered “battleground” contests. Obama won the popular vote and has at least 303 Electoral College votes, a number that could increase to 332, both well above the 270-vote threshold needed for re-election.
As an aside here, let us all exhale a collective sigh of relief that Florida with its 29 electoral votes turned out to be a non-factor. As of Thursday afternoon, votes totals from the state were still out, with Miami-Dade County election officials saying they likely wouldn’t have all ballots counted until sometime this afternoon. Meanwhile, there are enough votes still to be counted that could swing the state’s electoral votes to either camp. Reports were that supporters of both Obama and Romney had legal teams in the Sunshine State waiting to pounce with legal challenges in a close count, so at least we have been spared that turmoil. Still, you have to wonder just when Florida is going to adopt a voting process that doesn’t make it a perennial source of political consternation in close elections.
In any event, Obama deserves a tip of the hat for running a successful campaign. But unlike a newly elected president, he doesn’t have the luxury of enjoying the win and spending two months of planning and preparation before he takes office. He’s in the White House already, and work needs to be done.
First of all, the administration and Congress have to deal with this imbelcilic fiscal time bomb that Congress, in its finite wisdom, constructed, set the timer on and then stepped back with its collective fingers in its ears hoping it wouldn’t blow up. If sequestration happens in January, Great Recession II won’t be far behind.
And that means Democrats who control the Senate and Republicans who control the House will have to get together for some type of meeting of the minds. Simply whacking $500 billion off the defense budget is lunacy and its disgraceful that a legislative body would place itself in this predicament.
After that, we’d argue that if Americans have sent a message to Washington, it’s not that Obama and Democratic senators are right, nor is it that Republican representatives are. Stalemates have resulted from a hardening of positions by members of both parties, who have taken to looking at the word cooperation and compromise as obscenities.
We’re two years away from mid-term elections. That’s two years before either party can claim any credit or blame for what is done now. There are issues that need to be addressed and if either conservatives or liberals are completely happy with the results, then that is a sure sign that the solution failed. We need the best ideas from all perspectives mixed together and working to get this nation back on track. As president, it will be up to Obama to facilitate that.