Election over, time for action
The election is history, little has changed in Washington, D.C., and it's time for our leaders to work together to address some of the grave problems facing the country.
After a hard-fought, long and bitter campaign for control of the White House and Congress, the most expensive in history, the net result is that nothing has changed.
More than $2 billion was spent on the presidential election alone, billions more on congressional campaigns.
President Barack Obama won re-election over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the U.S. House remained under control of Republicans, and the Senate remained in Democratic hands.
If the electorate was as angry and upset over the economy as pollsters and pundits indicated, the election results didn't show it.
Democrats had the most to lose and hence were clear winners. They managed to hold on to the presidency and even gained incrementally in the Senate and House.
Probably the biggest surprise to most people was that Obama won with relative ease in the Electoral College when most polls had shown the election to be a tossup, although his margin in the popular vote was narrow. He won seven of the nine battleground states that held the key to the election. When Ohio went into the Obama column Tuesday night, it was clear that Obama had won. Florida, which was key to Romney's hopes and still has not been decided, simply did not matter.
If the margin in electoral votes seems surprising given the polls, Obama's advisers were confident of their position in the battleground states all along — even after the president's poor performance in the first debate and his administration's missteps after the killing of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.
Obama won not by running on his record or by proposing ideas for how to handle the nation's problems in his second term. Rather, he won by recognizing demographic trends and through superior political organizing — running up big margins with young voters, women and minorities, mobilizing a registration and get-out-the-vote operation and focusing narrowly on battleground states.
Indeed, the partisan divide of the country is still evident in the lineup of red and blue states. More clear yet is the urban and rural divide. Even in many states that went for Obama — Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania among them — county by county results show great sweeps of Republican areas surrounding urban dots of the president's support. Democrats can boast no mandate.
We hope that with the grave issues facing the country, the narrow margin of President Obama's victory and a divided Congress, politicians finally realize that they have to work together to address our problems and get the country moving again. The partisan gridlock of the last two years must end, even if many of the players are still the same.
Once the election results were apparent, Obama and Romney made conciliatory speeches, and even though that's common after elections, we hope there's something to it this time.
In his speech to supporters at his celebration in Chicago early Wednesday, Obama said: "Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do."
The so-called fiscal cliff is the most immediate issue, with $500 billion in tax increases and $800 billion in budget cuts looming on Jan. 1 unless Congress and the White House can agree on a plan to deal with the government's spiraling debt and overhaul the tax code, something they have been unable to do to this point. Severe longer-range problems also need action, including putting Social Security and Medicare on a sound financial footing. Interestingly, neither was talked about much during the campaign.
Initial indications are promising. Obama has said the economy is his greatest priority. House Speaker John Boehner says Republicans will try to work with the president and Democrats. The fact is that with the country so divided and the election results so close, Obama does not have a mandate and Republicans can no longer afford to be obstructionist. They must find grounds to compromise for the good of the country.
The time to start is now.