After what felt like one of the longest and closest fought Presidential elections in a generation, America woke up on November 7th with Barack Obama invested in the White House for a another four years. It was in the early hours of the morning (GMT time) that the big states started to roll in. Obama snatched wins in the big swing states, Ohio, Virginia, Colorado, Wisconsin and, eventually, Florida. When Fox News started talking about recounts, you knew Obama had got it. The results were relayed to the plethora of greatly disappointed Republican supporters who had felt that candidate Mitt Romney’s claim to the Presidency was almost guaranteed given the deep-seated resentment felt by many in the country towards Obama. No one was more shocked by the result, it would seem, that Romney himself who was reportedly so sure of his own success that he neglected to prepare a conciliatory speech in the event of defeat.
At first glance the you could presume that the struggle for Obama is over, he got the happy ending he fought for, right? He avoided having to take his place in the line of ‘failed’ single-term Presidents, but the really tough times are still to come.
The big issues still to be solved, and on which much of the election was fought, revolve around the economy, tax, immigration and the environment. Solving these issues whilst securing his own legacy will be tough for Obama. While he was busy re-winning the keys to the White House, the Republicans were securing their dominance in the House, many of whom in the past have been more interested in demonising Obama rather than ratifying productive legislation. The intense partisanship between Congress and the White House was a serious issue for Obama from 2008, critics point to his coldness towards Congress in adding to his legislative problems in his first term. Comments from Republican speaker of the House John A Boehner have, however, signalled that the situation may change going into
Obama’s second term:
“We’re ready to be led — not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans. We want you to lead, not as a liberal or a conservative, but as president of the United States of America.”
A sign perhaps, that Romney’s election defeat has shocked the G.O.P members in Congress to take a more conciliatory stance towards the Democrat President; a realisation Obama’s comfortable electoral win affords him a mandate from the American people to continue with his agenda based on ‘hope and change’.
An end to the trend of political impasse within the US government is precisely what the country will need over the coming weeks. Talk of the tough times to come for Obama are based mostly on the threat of the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ facing the American economy as Bush-era tax and spend arrangements come to an end. Obama is faced with a pretty big economic mess if a new deal isn’t agreed upon with Congress to renew the fiscal arrangements before the New Year.
Divided government has pretty much become the norm in America over the past fifty years but to be frank both branches of government are going to have to overcome their differences if they want to get anything done. America has voted, however narrowly, for another four years of hope and change, I think it’s time to give the people what they want, Obama just has to work out how exactly to go about doing it.
BY: Louise Hill