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.