So America has spoken and Barack Obama has been re-elected as president of the United States of America. With President Obama being re-elected, there is still no mandate for Congress with the House in the Republicans’ hands and the Senate in the Democrats’ hands. After all is said and done, and for this post-election analysis this week, we are going to talk about what we believe each campaign has learned along the trail and what this win means going forward, no special nod to Democrats intended, for this country. Also, what does it mean for a Congress once again as divided as it was the past two years?
By Emily Cox
Today we are victorious.
Well, sort of. As Obama made his election-night remarks, I found myself filled with a type of patriotism and pride that is greater than any I have experienced during the last few campaign months. The entire world watched this election. What a great feeling must have overwhelmed Obama as he appeared onstage to the tremendous shouts and cries of his thousands of loyal supporters at his Chicago headquarters. As his speech ended, I turned to my roommate, opened my arms in exclamation, and gleefully proclaimed, “I’m so inspired right now!” Perhaps this was just the result of fervor from success and the President’s speechmaking prowess. For whatever reason, the Democrats are rightly celebrating. But it’s imperative that we remember: We cannot get caught up in the success of the election and forget about the great work ahead. We have a lame-duck Congress. Democrats will maintain their Senate majority, while Republicans will control the House for the at least two years and probably longer —the Republicans’ 40-member edge (and, of course, that same deficit for Democrats ) will not likely shift in a single election. What’s more, there is no super-majority in the United States Senate, which requires 60 seats for either party to overcome a filibuster. Unless Obama can work effectively to unite both parties within the House and the Senate, we will not see the improvements and forward movement that the President so greatly desires.
It’s hard to forget all the crises we saw during the last Presidential term due to the partisan gridlock in Congress, and it’s likely not a phenomenon that will go away anytime soon. The debt ceiling issue of 2011 is a perfect example of how everything can very nearly go terribly wrong for America simply because our Congressmen play party politics. Obama has never been great about schmoozing with Republicans, and this is possibly one of his greatest inefficiencies in office. He is straightforward and often doesn’t see the need for the politeness, pleasantries, and socializing that were undertaken by successful former presidents, such as Bill Clinton. Obama said last night, “In the future months, I am looking forward to reaching out to leaders of both parties.” Glaringly, President Obama needs to mend his relationship with Speaker Boehner if he wishes to ever unite with the Republican Party on bipartisan issues. The President has to realize that reaching across party lines must include building true relationships, even friendships, with members of the other party. Likewise, the Republicans have to truly be enactors of compromise. Over the past four years, Republicans in Congress have been set on a selfish agenda to discredit Obama’s administration at the cost of our nation’s success. Hopefully, this agenda will finally be retired and choices based on the needs of the American people will be made.
The election also taught both the Republican and the Democratic parties a good deal about modern politics. Many social barriers were crossed that would have been impossible to overcome in past decades. We saw a Mormon on the Republican ticket, and a President-elect who openly supports gay marriage. From both sides, we saw a greater focus on women’s issues throughout the campaign season. Too, we saw dwindling Republican support in many areas of the country due to changing ethnic identities and subsequent feelings of alienation. The nationwide Presidential constituency is changing; eight years ago we saw a population that was 77 percent white, while we now see a population that is 72 percent white and shrinking more each year. In states like Nevada, this evolving population found a defining voice in the election and had a positive effect on Obama’s success. Areas of the nation supporting the Democratic Party are expanding and growing in population, while Republican support is stagnant. I believe this election has shown us that if the Republican Party wants to remain a viable competitor in American politics on a national scale, it will be forced to reevaluate its party platforms and campaign tactics in coming years.
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was playing as President Obama walked on stage to give his victory speech. It was a lighthearted and fun choice of music, but it also reminded me that true victory is far from sealed and delivered. For Obama to truly be victorious, he must act to deliver his promises of growing prosperity, economic stability, and social equality. To do this he is tasked with uniting Congress. Good luck, Mr. President.
By Collier Roberts
Well, I can honestly say that I am appalled with what has happened in the past day. I knew that it could go either way, but knowing what Obama has done for this country, or failed to do, and how the American people have responded is baffling to me. From the beginning, we have learned a lot about the American people, at least the majority (that voted for Obama). Actually, I did not learn anything new, just had reaffirmed my belief that the average American doesn’t realize what this is going to do/has done for this country: nothing. That’s not to mention that in nationwide exit polls, 53 percent of voters still blame George W. Bush for the current state of the economy. Are you kidding me? If that doesn’t scream ignorant, I don’t know what does, and it goes to show that Obama didn’t win on policy — he won on popularity, once again.
The Obama administration mastered the art of campaigning throughout this race. Obama and his team were so successful because they somehow managed to pretty much delete his record from his campaign and still have that “celebrity” popularity status. I honestly don’t get it. What happened last night says so much about this country, and I can tell you right now, it is not good. By reelecting President Obama, we have told the world that we want more handouts. We don’t want to work for an honest wage, but rather stay on food stamps and get a welfare check every month. We would be better off just blaming the rich for all of our problems and asking them to give more while we keep complaining until we get what we want. Well, good news, you got it. You get healthcare run by the government, which is going to be incredibly deficient, and you get more and more of your taxpayer dollars spent on investing in things such as green energy and other alternatives.
We find ourselves in the exact same position as we did back in 2010: gridlocked. There have been no positive changes. The deficit hasn’t changed, the number of people on food stamps hasn’t changed, the unemployment rate hasn’t changed, college tuition isn’t getting cheaper, more students are applying for grants. I repeat, nothing has changed. If we continue the path we are on, which seems to be the case, we will reach over $22 trillion dollars in debt. Just think about that and what it will do to our country. The debt kept rising the last four years and President Obama had no solutions, so what is going to be different this time around? All I know is that if he can’t reach across party lines, which takes Republican cooperation as well, then the majority of Americans will soon realize that they made a huge mistake. We can’t just keep putting off our problems for another four years, and we saw last night that Americans still bought into the cheap Obama high that returned from 2008.
All of that being said, I can enjoy some victories. The House remained in the hands of the Republicans with John Boehner still as the ring leader. The governor of North Carolina (my home state) is finally in the hands of Pat McCrory. He took office after a horrible four years of a lady who was elected purely off the straight-ticket Democratic vote in 2008 because of Obama. Also, my neighbor and longtime family friend was victorious in his race for N.C. Court of Appeals Judge. And last but not least, Dr. Jim Fulghum, to whom I am related, won his race for N.C. House. So, even though we lost the war, we did win some small battles that hit close to home for me.
John Boehner is going to have to emerge as the bigger man over the next four years, because all we have to go on by is what Obama has done in the past, and that has proven to be unsuccessful. In order to get out of this mess, we are going to have to make serious changes and cuts, and that requires Obama and Boehner to do a heck of a lot more than before. I don’t think people realize that in just 54 days when the Bush tax code expires we are in serious trouble. Stay tuned.