Written by Peter Huston.
Now that the 2012 presidential election is over, I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief. Not only because Barack Obama won reelection, but because it means an end to the campaigning and political advertising. Barack Obama won the election by way of 332 electoral votes and 51 percent of the popular vote to Mitt Romney‘s 206 electoral votes and 48 percent of popular vote. Obama won eight of the nine coveted battleground states, which sealed his victory. The result was not quite a landslide victory, but it was a much larger margin than many were anticipating. The 2012 election might be characterized mostly as being the most expensive in history. Combined, the two campaigns spent almost $2 billion to get their candidate elected, according to opensecrets.org.
The 2012 election seemed to be reminiscent of the 2004 George W. Bush vs John Kerry election, but with the rolls reversed. In 2004, most Democrats were convinced that George W. Bush was the worst president in history, but their candidate, John Kerry, was unable to defeat Bush. Likewise, in this election, I get the feeling that many Republicans view Barack Obama as the worst president in history, but the Republican candidate was unable to defeat the incumbent Obama. Had Romney run as the successful entrepreneur and social moderate who won the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts, he would have had a much better chance at winning the presidential election. He would have been able to run on his accomplishments as governor, such as passing a healthcare reform law in Massachusetts that led to 98 percent of state residents having health coverage. In order to win the Republican primary, however, he had to connect with the Republican base, disavowing many of his accomplishments and changing his previous beliefs, such as being pro-choice and pro-gay rights. Since Romney was a flip-flopper on many key issues, it was hard for him to convince moderates that he was a trustworthy candidate.
Obama’s reelection means that he will have a whole four years to continue making the economy better and reducing the deficit, both of which have been improving. He also does not have to worry about running for reelection again, so he can focus on governing in the most effective way possible. Obama’s reelection also ensures that the core elements of the Affordable Care Act will come to fruition, which is scheduled to happen by 2014. It will be interesting to see how Republicans in Congress deal with the president now. Before, the Republican Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said that it would be their top priority to make President Obama a one-term president. They tried to accomplish this goal by abusing the filibuster and refusing compromise on any issue, including a bill that would help veterans find jobs. Now that he has been reelected, it seems like they would be willing to do what is best for the country and not what will make the president look bad. This could also put the government on a path out of gridlock and toward compromise.
The first issue President Obama and Congress will face together is the looming “fiscal cliff,” which is a set of automatic tax increases and drastic budget cuts that would go into effect in January. If these measures are to go into effect, it is projected that the economy will be crippled and another recession will follow. The effect would be similar to what has been seen in Europe from their drastic austerity measures. To address the issue, President Obama must work together with the Republican-held house led by Speaker John Boehner. Both sides appear ready to compromise, the only catch being that Obama says he will not sign a bill that does not include tax increases on those making over $250,000 a year, while Boehner says that he will not accept a bill that raises taxes on anyone.
Whatever small bit of optimist left in me hopes that the next four years will be ones full of compromise and constructive politics. The realist, or pessimist, in me expects the next four years to be similar to the last in which politicians just fight for party ideology. Either way, I think it is time we begin preparations for Hillary Clinton 2016!
Video by WSJDigitalNetwork.
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