President Barack Obama will remain in the White House, thanks to a strong showing in the Electoral College vote, even though his share of the popular vote was very close.
Obama and his campaign team deserve credit for sticking with their game plan, even when many observers from both sides of the political divide thought he was in trouble. After all, who would have believed a couple of weeks ago that Obama would carry both Florida and Virginia, in addition to most of the other swing states, including Colorado?
Congratulations to the president on a hard-fought victory.
Republican Mitt Romney put up a good fight and convinced a lot of uncertain Americans with his debate performances that he was capable of being president. But it wasn’t enough.
Now, as the president is well aware, comes the difficult task of governing a country where the populace and the Congress remain as bitterly divided as ever.
The first order of business will be trying to reach agreement with Republicans in the House to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff that we will face Jan. 1 if no action is taken.
Responsibility for avoiding the cliff doesn’t fall solely on the president’s shoulders. House Speaker John Boehner must be willing to compromise on this issue, even if it means standing up to the most conservative House members who draw a line in the sand over any tax increase. But Obama is the president, and newly re-elected. His leadership and willingness to compromise can ensure that the cliff is avoided.
The same is true on the issue of long-term federal debt. We hope Obama will embrace something like the recommendations of his own Simpson-Bowles commission, with its emphasis on reining in spending and reforming the tax code to eliminate loopholes. He can’t do it by himself, but such a plan already has supporters in both parties.
Clearly, the president’s signature achievement, Obamacare, is not in danger of repeal now. But some provisions may require amending. The president must be willing to consider reasonable requests in that regard.
There will be ongoing fights over foreign policy and recharging the economy, many of which will be bitterly partisan.
But the biggest challenge for Obama in the next four years may be to fulfill a promise he made in 2008 — to unite this country, not further divide it.
If he were to do so, it would leave him a legacy as important as any policy goal he may achieve.