By Larry Gordon
It does not feel very good to have been so wrong in the assessment of what the United States of America wanted or needed. But the factual reality is that the people have spoken and decided that this is the direction they want America to take. I know many people–including some of my neighbors–who feel exactly that way, even though they are not precisely what you would call classic Democratic liberals.
The country has made its choice in a wonderful and massive exercise of textbook democracy. Barack Obama will be our president for the next four years, and the onus is on him to undo the damage he has done in dividing this country over the last four years and to take his place in history as well as earn his title of President.
It’s too early to say where Mitt Romney went wrong or if in fact anything he did or said or campaigned on could be considered a mistake. If anything was done wrong here, it is the miscalculation of Romney supporters like me in our estimation of what this country as a whole really wants for itself. It is difficult to come to grips with the reality that this is what the majority of Americans really want, but that is the fact. The people have decidedly spoken.
So how do we deal with this reality going forward, and what are the ramifications? The hope is that a second Obama administration will not resemble that of his first term, which will be recalled mostly for its lack of accomplishment. It may be true that Mr. Obama will never have to face reelection again, but at the same time the pressures that are brought to bear are much different than those in a first term.
Amongst other things, Mr. Obama will most likely be concerned about his legacy and how history will ultimately remember, record, and write about his two terms as President of the United States.
As citizens and voters, it is now time for us to pick up the pieces and begin to recover from the campaign mode we have been submerged in for almost two years. It may take a few days or maybe even a few months, but we will have to reconcile ourselves with what has occurred and move ahead, putting our best foot forward.
So what are the concerns that those of us who supported Mitt Romney will have as we begin the process of looking ahead to the next few years? I think the simplest analysis was supplied by Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, who said early in the evening that the electorate and indeed the population in the U.S. today is dominated “by people that just want stuff.” What he meant is that when there is a choice between the old-fashioned American way of developing and building something and receiving government assistance, the majority of the new America has decided that they just prefer receiving things from government rather than the other way of getting things done. That’s not the way things used to be done, and that’s difficult to digest, but the people have spoken, and this is the way they want it, for better or for worse.
So now the onus is on the president to show us that he really does want to be a leader of all the people–even those who did not support him or vote for him. That is a big undertaking after what was a very contentious and difficult campaign. Only a very big man can rise to that situation. We will see in time if Mr. Obama is that kind of man.
It is difficult to forget that after his election four years ago, he said much the same thing–that he intended to govern and set policy in this country with everyone in mind. Instead, we received a plethora of policies antagonistic to many and an instructional manual on how to divide a country.
My hope is that Barack Obama has matured and that he sees things differently from his new reelected vantage point than he did four years ago. I’m not very encouraged by his performance during the last two debates, when he created an impression of an angry and duplicitous politician.
In his acceptance speech on Tuesday night, Mr. Obama surprised many by saying that he plans to reach out and meet with Governor Romney to see how the governor can be of assistance in healing the divide and the problems that currently ail the country.
As I viewed and studied the returns the other night, there was a clear signal that things were not going well. When it was announced that Mr. Romney had not been able to score a victory in his home state of Massachusetts and in the home state of his running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, that did not bode well for the returns the rest of the night from the balance of the country.
On the matter of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that the reality is that the alliance between the U.S. and Israel has never been stronger. That is a good and sobering indication of things to come between the U.S. and her most important ally in the Middle East, Israel.
From our perspective, it is indeed possible that the Obama victory can produce a very positive result for Israel. There is no doubt that in a friendly context, Mr. Obama will continue his openly critical stance on Israel. He will at some point also direct his attention at the moribund and heretofore failed peace process and try to maneuver it into both an unhealthy and unrealistic direction.
The Israeli response needs to be that of greater independence and certainly less reliance on the U.S. when it comes to doing what its leadership views as best to defend Israel from her enemies. It may very well be that more of an arm’s length while still close relationship between the U.S. and Israel could be the best thing that ever happened to the Jewish state. The hope is that the change in a matured Mr. Obama will be pointedly realized when it comes to Israel policy. His support from the American Jewish community continues to be strong. On Tuesday he won 69% of the American Jewish vote.
Closer to home, the Obama focus in the short term will be on internal U.S. issues. After rebuffing bipartisanship for four years, if anything will ever be accomplished Mr. Obama will have to reach across the aisle and work with House Republicans–who, thankfully, increased their majority. The hope is that the reelected Mr. Obama has received in victory an important lesson on what America desires of its leadership–that is, a liberal Democrat at the helm working with a right-leaning House of Representatives.
The long and laborious campaign is over. I think we’ve all had enough of the complicated and inexact rhetoric laced with parsed words that mean something different than they seem to mean on the surface. Let’s get down to business and do what it takes to create a healthy and productive America, which starts with doing the right things and putting people back to work.
Congratulations, Mr. President. v
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