It has been almost a week since the election. Anyone with interest in the back-stories surrounding American presidential politics can find many commentaries on line and in print. This is a time-sensitive blog that may not be of interest to all readers, especially international blog fans who can’t comprehend the intricacies of American partisan politics. Here are some personal observations.
Honestly, I was worried about the prospect of a Romney presidency. The best thing that I can say about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is that he was the best (or the lesser of the evils) of a poor field of candidates. Compared to Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, or Michelle Bachman, Romney looked like the reasonable moderate in the room. After seeking to position himself during the primary races as more conservative than several of these candidates, Romney attempted to pivot to the center in time for the general election, echoing Obama’s policies during the final debate. Romney’s eleventh hour policy reversals didn’t work.
For the sake of the country and our democracy, I’m ecstatic that certain other Republican actions were unsuccessful as well. There was a concerted effort to suppress the vote in many Democratic-leaning districts of many states. These efforts were put in place by Republican-led state legislators or governors. For example, in Florida governor Rick Scott reduced the number of days available for early voting, breaking tradition by closing the polls on the weekend before election-day. In previous elections, the Sunday before the Tuesday election-day was the preferred voting day of many African Americans, who otherwise could not easily take off from work on Tuesday in order to vote.
The other action that I’m ecstatic failed was the attempt by anonymous Republican millionaires to influence the election by contributing millions of dollars to pay for Republican television attack ads in state elections around the country. By election-day, I think all Americans were sick of being repeatedly subjected to these negative attack ads. Democrats were forced to respond in kind, or else risk allowing the Republican attacks to gain traction if they were allowed to stand unanswered. Thus, the two parties’ respective ads probably cancelled each other out, with the final result being Obama’s win and a party line-up similar to that of the previous congress.
It’s been estimated that $6.5 billion was spent by all candidates seeking to be elected, with $2.5 being spent on the presidential election alone. One Las Vegas casino owner, Sheldon Edelson, donated over $100 million of his personal fortune to try to defeat Obama. Thank goodness these efforts failed. Had they succeeded, it would have set the dangerous precedent by showing that elections could be bought by the biggest financial contributors. In retrospect, it seems that the conflicting media ads that saturated our television screens for the last few months had little effect on the outcomes of most races. Nevertheless, I would prefer to have a shorter election season with public financing to the exclusion of big corporate donors. Unfortunately, (in my humble opinion) the US Supreme Court has ruled (in the “Citizens United” case) that unlimited money, even money spent by partisan self-interested corporations, is a legal for any election. In other words, there are no legal limits to the use of money to be used to influence election results. Money equals free speech under the Supreme Court ruling. I just don’t think that the country’s founding fathers would have agreed that unlimited anonymous millions, which sought to influence the election results, are a valid expression of free speech under the first amendment of the US constitution.
Positive change will not occur easily. Obama will be challenged to maintain the momentum of positive change. I congratulate President Obama on the following first-term accomplishments:
Healthcare change has begun. The Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has as last begun to turn the tide of remedying the national shame of fifty million citizens without access to regular healthcare service.
Obama “evolved” in his opinions about gay marriage. Though previously against it, he’s now for it. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” has been repealed. These steps symbolize great progress toward equal rights for homosexuals.
As far as American involvement goes, the war in Iraq is over. The war in Afghanistan rages on. What will happen after the Americans leave is unclear. But clearly, Obama is bringing the troops home. This is good for America, if not good for Afghanistan.
Development of alternative energy industries will progress under Obama’s leadership. Romney would have cancelled any government subsidies for all energy industries except petroleum and coal. We would have become a dirtier nation.
Obama had the opportunity to appoint two women to the Supreme Court. During the next four years, he might have additional nominating opportunities. Obama’s eventual nominees, whoever they are, will definitely be more to my liking than any Romney nominees would have been. Women will retain control of their bodies instead of being criminalized when seeking an abortion for any reason. The concept of “legitimate rape” has been banished from the national vocabulary forever.
Jeffrey LeepNovember 12, 2012 at 9:45 pm
Dallas, I’m with you. We must choose peace. Jeff
Jim EaglesmithNovember 12, 2012 at 10:33 pm
Well stated my friend!
thomas frykbergNovember 13, 2012 at 12:38 am
Dear Dallas, we are sure that the majority of the Swedish people are very much relieved by the outcome of the election. All the best Thomas and Inger
ronnie beasleyNovember 13, 2012 at 5:41 am
well said my friend
George HanepenNovember 13, 2012 at 8:35 am
Dallas, I do agree with everything in your blog. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. George.
danny birchNovember 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm
While I agree that Obama is certainly the lesser of 2 evils, I wish that the democrats didn’t fight the same wars as the republicans. A country that engages in more or less perpetual war in various stages in various places creates bad karma. I don’t see why the democrats going all the back to LBJ insist on waging war. Their domestic policies are certainly better than republicans, but the warmongering should stop. Actually, as a young person, I was very supportive of LBJ against Goldwater because LBJ was the “PEACE” candidate. We all know what followed in Vietnam. True, he introduced the oting rights and other civil rights. But his legacy was always tarnished by unjustified war. I am afraid that Obama’s policies in Afghanistan and other places are just a continuation of the same old bs. Also he is backed by dubious donors like Monsanto and several unsavory financial institutions.
Dallas Smith BlogNovember 15, 2012 at 1:55 pm
Danny, I agree with the underlying theme of your comment, that Obama has continued the wars instead of just ending them. I think that people like you and me who have lived for years out of the country tend to be more inherently pacifist that people who’ve never left their home country. We are a minority. The majority of Americans support the wars. Indeed, it is impossible for a politician to get elected who runs on a “peace” platform. Indeed, it’s not even possible to say that Vietnam was a mistake. Some Democrats say that the Iraq war was a mistake, but most support the Afghan war, since it was the launching pad for Osama bin Laden. Apart from the American “exceptionalism” which supports our military forays, Obama’s intentions are certainly preferable to Romney’s. Romney was talking like we should go to war with Iran, plus he wanted to “get tough” with China and Russia. The military-industrial complex has always profited from wars, especially the Cold War, and Romney was definately their man.
JoannaNovember 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm
Dallas I’m sorry I was so slow to read this. I agree with everything you had to say and we are very happy that President Obama will be there to try to finish what he started. I don’t believe anyone could have cleaned up the Bush mess in 4 years, maybe not even in 8. I just wish both parties would work together and really try to get things done. It is all so childish sometimes. Thanks for your thoughts. Give Susan our love. Love, Joanna
Inge SkeansNovember 18, 2012 at 7:12 am
I’m also late in reading this, but I thank you for your blog, it put a few things in perspective for me. I voted for Obama from here (Sweden) and along with everybody I talk to here, we are relieved and grateful that he won. I believe there will now be many more positive changes ahead, even if a few heads must roll in the meantime, and he still has to fight the old guard.
It’s encouraging also that CA went democratic, and that new young democrats win against republican in some states. Thank you for writing this blog, Dallas. It is always so insightful and eloquent. Much appreciated by so many. Love to you and Susan,
Inge in Karlstad