Barack Obama wins reelection, but will Republicans accept his victory?

President Obama has been reelected. But so has the Republican House of Representatives and a filibuster-capable Republican contingent in Senate. The success of Obama’s second term, and of the country over the next four years, depends not just on president’s actions, but the immediate lessons Republicans take from Tuesday’s vote. There will be a split in the party. One faction will admit Americans have not renewed any mandate Republicans thought they gained in 2010 to unwaveringly oppose Obama agenda. Voters 2012 elected an ideologically mixed government to guide the country through a series of difficult challenges that Congress and the president must face together. The first will come a matter of days after the election as the automatic spending cuts and tax hikes of January’s “fiscal cliff” loom. Voters did not enthusiastically endorse the Obama agenda. The president’s margin of victory was thin, a fact Republicans can use to advance their priorities in the bargaining to come. But electorate also did not endorse the Tea Party. Cooperation will be necessary. In September, even some conservative senators signalled they would deal with a reelected Obama on taxes, while remaining firm in advancing GOP priorities. They began talking about trades independent observers have been advocating for years: revenue increases, which Obama wants, in exchange for authentic Medicare reform, which Republicans want. This could be great for the country. Other Republicans, though, will find any ideologically comfortable excuse they can to explain away Obama’s victory. The media was in the tank for the president, who constantly, flagrantly lied. Americans did not know just how radical the president has been, in the past or present. There were voting irregularities here or there. Hurricane did it. Most of all, thinking will go, Republicans had a flawed candidate. Though Mitt Romney elevated Paul Ryan and rallied his campaign in October, he was not a consistent conservative who offered sharp enough critique of the president. Conveniently, this line of thinking offers right-wingers license to be only more unwavering and reckless in their opposition to Obama. Those in second camp will be wrong about how and why Romney lost, about how to react. In fact, Romney ultimately proved to be able campaigner in a shallow contest. Meanwhile, one of Mitt Romney’s greatest weaknesses, his serial inconsistency, resulted from the hard right turn GOP base required him to take in Republican primaries, in 2008 but especially in 2012. America’s divided government and divided electorate will not accommodate ideological purity. With luck, more Republicans will sort themselves into the first camp than into second. Even if that does happen, though, among the huge political and policy challenges of next 4 years will be getting more Republicans to recognize and extend their hand toward the center, instead of believing that their only salvation lies in dragging the rest of country their direction. Obama must take on that challenge with a commitment he didn’t demonstrate in his first term. House Speaker John Boehner (R), whom everyone in Washington sees as a dealmaker rather than a bomb-thrower, has even more responsibility to try harder. Obama and the Republican House, are stuck with each other. (source: Stephen Stromberg – The Washington Post – 07/11/2012)


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7 Responses to Barack Obama wins reelection, but will Republicans accept his victory?

  1. (…..) The G.O.P. has lost two presidential elections in a row because it forced its candidate to run so far to the loony right to get through the primaries, dominated by its ultraconservative base, that he could not get close enough back to the center to carry the national election. It is not enough for Republicans to tell their Democratic colleagues in private — as some do — “I wish I could help you, but our base is crazy.” They need to have their own reformation. The center-right has got to have it out with the far-right, or it is going to be a minority party for a long time. Many in the next generation of America know climate change is real, and they want to see something done to mitigate it. Many in the next generation of America will be of Hispanic origin and insist on humane immigration reform that gives a practical legal pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The next generation is going to need immigration of high-I.Q. risk-takers from India, China and Latin America if the U.S. is going to remain at the cutting edge of the Information Technology revolution and be able to afford the government we want. Many in the next generation of America see gays and lesbians in their families, workplaces and Army barracks, and they don’t want to deny them the marriage rights held by others. The G.O.P. today is at war with too many in the next generation of America on all of these issues. All that said, my prediction is that the biggest domestic issue in the next four years will be how we respond to changes in technology, globalization and markets that have, in a very short space of time, made the decent-wage, middle-skilled job — the backbone of the middle class — increasingly obsolete. The only decent-wage jobs will be high-skilled ones.

    The answer to that challenge will require a new level of political imagination — a combination of educational reforms and unprecedented collaboration between business, schools, universities and government to change how workers are trained and empowered to keep learning. It will require tax reforms and immigration reforms.

    America today desperately needs a center-right G.O.P. that is offering merit-based, market-based approaches to all these issues — and a willingness to meet the other side halfway. The country is starved for practical, bipartisan cooperation, and it will reward politicians who deliver it and punish those who don’t. The votes have been counted. President Obama now needs to get to work to justify the second chance the country has given him, and the Republicans need to get to work understanding why that happened.

  2. IT’S NOT quite on the same scale as the planetary alignment heralded by some as the great “harmonic convergence”. But with an unusual alignment of political calendars in America and China, there sure is a lot of important politicking going on this week. A mere two days after Barack Obama’s victory in an acrimonious presidential election (one day, really, if you account for time zones), China will throw open the curtain on November 8th on the Communist Party’s 18th National Congress. This set-piece of political theatre marks the formal start of China’s once-a-decade leadership transition process. Behind the curtain, China’s process has been seething along—apparently for about as long, and with about as much vitriol—as the American electoral campaigns were. And in very different ways, people in China have been paying attention to both. For Chinese observers, there was not only great interest in the American candidates themselves, and the potential impact that either’s election might have had on Sino-American relations, but also in the nature of the process itself, and the ways in which it differs from China’s method of selecting leaders. As in other recent American presidential races, China had become a significant campaign issue. The Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, accused Barack Obama of being soft on China and promised, should he have won, to label China a currency manipulator on the first day of his administration. For its part, Mr Obama’s campaign focused on the number of American jobs it says Mr Romney helped send to China over the course of his long and lucrative career in business. One leading Chinese scholar of American affairs, Shen Dingli, director of the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University, argued recently that “China wants Mitt Romney to win”. Mr Romney’s support of free trade, free enterprise and less regulation, he said, would be more favourable to China. He was hardly bothered by Mr Romney’s harsh rhetoric about what he characterises as Chinese cheating on trade and currency issues, or his threat to take swift action about it. “Would a President Romney really honour his threat, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of US jobs?” Mr Shen asked. Answering his own question, Mr Shen noted that Mr Obama made similar noises prior to his first election, and backed down shortly after.

    This is a pattern China knows well, and it informs the predominant view among Chinese analysts and officials: American politicians always bash China during their campaigns, and upon taking office come to understand they have no real alternatives to engagement. This is “the kind of rhetoric that Beijing has grown accustomed to and no longer fears,” writes Michael Anti, a Chinese blogger. “Whoever sits in the White House next year, China will keep the same negotiating posture toward the United States that it has had over the last decade,” he predicted.

    It is this logic that led some Chinese officials to prefer the devil they know, if only to spare themselves having to wait for what would have been a new incumbent, learning to tiptoe his way from the hardline of the campaign trail to a pragmatic basis for governing. If the contrast between the American candidates remained somewhat fuzzy in Chinese eyes, the contrast between America’s electoral process and China’s one-party system could hardly be sharper.

    The open antagonism on display in America’s partisan media outlets, campaign speeches and televised debates between the candidates themselves has been a far cry from the quiet wheeling and dealing carried out in China by supremely powerful figures, about whom ordinary people know very little (…..)

  3. (…..) Mr Romney started to do better in the campaign only in the later stages, when he moved towards the centre. The Republican Party of the future must deal with the real America represented in the Obama coalition. It is a coalition of women, young people, Hispanics and other minorities, and urban professionals. If the white, male and ageing Republican Party continues to ignore this truth, it will be marginalised for decades (…..)

  4. A CLOSE vote by a split electorate has handed President Obama a second term. He steps up, revived and renewed, to preside over a divided nation that often seems to agree on only one thing: today’s children will live less well than their parents. This pervasive loss of confidence, though hard to precisely measure, is of enormous consequence. It’s what sinks civilizations. Mr. Obama understands this, but hasn’t fashioned a coherent response — and it nearly resulted in his defeat. The problem was starkly visible to 70 million viewers in that disastrous first debate when Mitt Romney showed many voters that he was confident about the future of the country. Mr. Obama seemed at a loss, conflicted and hesitant, as though he’d been found out. To understand what was happening behind that lectern and the challenge Mr. Obama faces in his new term, it’s useful to consider what the president told me in a February 2011 interview in the Oval Office. Mr. Obama spoke of a president’s power to instill confidence in the people as something of a coin of the realm. Citing Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy, he talked about how both men, regardless of their policies, were masterly at helping Americans “believe in themselves.” Ronald Reagan, he said with a hint of envy, “was very comfortable in playing the role of president,” with his actor’s background. The president summed up what he’d learned after an optimism-bruising two years in office: “I think where the evolution has taken place,” he said, “is understanding that leadership in this office is not a matter of you being confident. Leadership in this office is a matter of helping the American people feel confident.” Exuding confidence while not feeling it? That straddle is particularly difficult for Mr. Obama, who’s long wrestled with a dual role as appraising narrator, with those writerly skills, and main actor in the great play of events. Reconciling that split is what held him back in the campaign and left him tongue-tied when he tried to paint an alluring vision of the future. Obama the Narrator wouldn’t let Obama the Actor sell a confidence he didn’t feel, even if it’s what people were yearning for. Now, the re-elected president must find some way to tell us how he, and the country, can rightfully feel optimistic. To manage it, Mr. Obama will have to evolve. How? Speak from the heart and then act. It’s dangerous for anyone, even someone who published his autobiography at 33, fashioning a personal narrative that helped propel him to the presidency, to be so fixated on the storyteller’s third-person view, which looks down from the ceiling. It slows one’s step and adds a level of calculation — of how things will play — that undermines improvisations, the lightning reactions, the twists and surprises of a more dynamic leadership.

    It’s the difference between writing about history and shaping it (…..)

  5. The US has finally voted and the dark visions of America’s future broadcast on television screens across the country — and most intensively in battleground states — have come to an end. Supporters of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney had developed doomsday scenarios for what would happen if their candidate’s opponent were to win. Four more years of Obama, the ads warned, would result in pure socialism. A Romney presidency would see the middle and lower classes brutally exploited. But following Obama’s re-election, Americans are now facing a different, much more real horror scenario: In just a few weeks time, thousands of children could be denied vaccinations, federally funded school programs could screech to a halt, adults may be forced to forego HIV tests and subsidized housing vouchers would dry up. Even the work of air-traffic controllers, the FBI, border officials and the military could be drastically curtailed. That and more is looming just over the horizon according to the White House if the country is allowed to plunge off the “fiscal cliff” at the beginning of next year. Coined by Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke, it refers to the vast array of cuts and tax increases which will automatically go into effect if Republicans and Democrats can’t agree on measures to slash the US budget deficit. In total, the cuts add up to $1.2 trillion over the next nine years, with half coming from the military and half from other government programs, and with $65 billion coming in the first year alone. They were enshrined in law with the Budget Control Act of 2011, which also increased the debt ceiling. And though a deadline of Jan. 2, 2013 was set, they were never meant to come into effect. The plan for deep across-the-board cuts was intended as a way to prod Democrats and Republicans into reaching agreement on a long-term plan to reduce America’s vast budget deficit.

    (…..) Greece’s economic problems and the resulting austerity packages it has passed have plunged the country into five straight years of recession. Germany, Europe and the world are hoping that the same fate is not in store for the US.

  6. Growing up in India in the 1960s and 1970s, I always thought of America as the future. It was the place where the newest technology, the best gadgets and the latest fads seemed to originate. Seemingly exotic political causes — women’s liberation, gay rights, the fight against ageism — always seemed to get their start on the streets or in the legislatures and courts of the United States. Indians couldn’t imagine embracing all American trends — in fact, some were rejected outright — because they were too edgy for a country like India. But we had a sneaking suspicion that today’s weird California fad would become tomorrow’s conventional practice. For me, Tuesday’s elections brought back that sense of America as the land of the future. The presidential race is being discussed as one that was “about nothing,” with no message or mandate. But that’s simply not true. Put aside the reelection of Barack Obama and consider what else happened this week: (…..) In 1990, the neoconservative writer Ben Wattenberg wrote a book titled “The First Universal Nation,” arguing that the United States was creating something unique in history, a nation composed of all colors, races, religions and creeds, all thriving in their individualism. That diversity, he wrote, was going to be America’s greatest strength in the years ahead. While Wattenberg’s party, the GOP, has taken to looking at this new America with anxiety and fear, he was right. What the world saw this week was a picture of America at its best: edgy, experimental, open-minded — and brilliantly diverse.

  7. Latin America is America’s third largest trade partner. Its continuous economic growth is critical not only to the region itself, but also to essential segments of the U.S. economy. Yet, American leadership and business communities have not invested adequate resources to support this important strategic connection. The toll may be high on all fronts. Looking back at the 2012 elections, both presidential candidates practically ignored Latin America in the third debate, dealing with foreign policy. Most commentators were quite surprised that America’s neighbor and economic partner did not play a greater role to the candidates’ future plans. It can be explained by both the nature of the debate and the declining role of the United States in the region. First, if one listened to the U.S. presidential debates in the last couple of weeks they might think that there are two worlds; the world of national economic policies and the world of global affairs and foreign policy. These two realities can be perceived as detached from each other only on theory. In reality, they are extremely interconnected and intertwined. The rising role of Latino voters in the United States, for example, is also shaped by the nature of the relations between America and Latin American countries, and the future of immigration policy, including immigration from Latin America. As long as American leadership does not emphasize the impact of foreign policy towards Latin America on local policies, voters and policy makers alike will not absorb the importance of these strategic relations.

    The artificial separation of national and international debates in today’s globalized world should be reconsidered and perhaps changed in future election campaigns.

    Second, more importantly, this approach reflects a real change in priorities on the ground. A finance minister of a leading Latin American country confirmed to me in a recent conversation that U.S. investors are becoming less interested in the region. It is probably a combination of limited resources and the ‘new normal’ with over-attention to Asia in general, and China in particular. The rest of the world, on the other hand, is not wasting time. Latin America enjoys a commodities boom and a rapid middle-class growth that provides foreign investors with tremendous opportunities.

    Of particular visible presence is the Gulf States. The Latin-America-Arab summit was launched 2 years ago and recently took place in Peru. The focus of this summit is strengthening diplomatic ties between the Arab word and Latin America and facilitating further trade and investments between the two regions. The U.S. created a vacuum in Latin America, and the Arab World is quick to fill in (…..)


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