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The election is history, the future lies in working together

Published: Wed, November 7, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Democracy is like one of those photo mosaics — a collection of thousands of little pictures arranged by color and shade so that from afar it becomes a single portrait and a thing of beauty. Some of those little pictures may not be all that attractive. Some may be dark and downright ugly. But the end result is what counts.

And at the end of the presidential election of 2012, the picture that emerged was of President Barack Obama as the victor. At this writing, not all of the numbers are in, but the networks and wire services declared the president to have the necessary votes in the electoral college to win. It is possible that Mitt Romney will have more popular votes, which is not unprecedented. Four times a president has won the necessary electoral votes without winning the popular vote, most recently in 2000, when Al Gore received 540,000 more popular votes than President George W. Bush. The ability of a candidate to win a 21st century election based on a remnant of the 18th century is a quirk of our electoral process. There are those who would see it as one of those dark spots in the mosaic of democracy and others who accept it as an immutable reality, being that it’s right there in the U.S. Constitution.

It does not diminish Obama’s election any more than it did that of Bush, John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes or Benjamin Harrison. It does not merit another minute of discussion.

The conversation that should begin in Washington, D.C., tomorrow is how this Democratic president, the Republican House of Representatives and the Democratic Senate are going provide the American people with the representative government that they have a right to expect.

Members of Congress might want to ponder this: At a time when their approval rating was in the teens in virtually every poll taken, the president’s approval rating, as reflected in the percentage of the popular vote, was about three times better.

Chance for a new start

Obama’s “I won” comment to Republican leaders early in his first term displayed a hubris that was not only unflattering, but counterproductive. But it was no less offensive or destructive than the declarations by Republicans that their job was to make Obama a one-term president.

Let’s hope that neither side is so foolish as to make equally incendiary remarks or to draw up new game plans that have more to do with partisan politics than effective governance.

Let’s hope that Republicans who not long ago had a real hope for taking over the Senate look at Tuesday’s results and realize that practicing politics on the fringe does not work. House leaders and committee chairmen should consider that drawing ideological lines in the sand or pursuing trumped up investigations rather than doing the real work of the House could have consequences for them in 2014.

Of course, even before the new House and Senate are sworn in, the lame-duck Congress has a lot of work to do. Foremost on the to-do list is to work out a budget compromise that avoids the dire consequences of sequestration.

If anyone’s stock went up higher yesterday than the president’s it should be that of the Simpson-Bowles commission. It provided a realistic blueprint for a short-term solution to sequestration and a long-term solution to the budget deficit and burgeoning national debt.

Congress and President Obama must work together over the next two months to avoid across the board cuts — even in defense spending — and tax increases at all income levels. Neither side wants to suffer through the consequences of failing to work out an agreement.

Failure to reach a compromise would have a disastrous effect on the economy and the American people. Knowing that no one wants to see an economic meltdown gives everyone in Washington added incentive to practice a bipartisanship that has been sadly missing from democracy’s mosaic in recent years.


1palmer16121(116 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Thank God this Election is history. Maybe now congress actually can work together. espcially Mitch McConnell who had promised to make Obama a one-termer.

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2eggomaniac(12 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

As long as Boener heads the house compromise/ working together will be minimal he is an arrogant fool --- the GOP would be wise to replce him in that position. The only reason he is there is because of Ohios importance in national elections. How did that work 4 you GOP? Wise up or this trend will continue

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3Rlkat059(3 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

I can attest first hand, as a former Congressional staffer, that policy is rarely, if ever made in a rational manner. I expect the Lame Duck session to be unproductive for compromise for the following reasons:

1.) John Boehner will have to maintain a defiant posture to head off a challenge to his Speakership by Eric Cantor when the 113th Congress convenes in January.

2.) The Tea Party has forever changed the landscape of Congress, the House of Representatives in particular. A religious zealotry exists with respect to compromise and limiting federal spending.

3.) The House of Representatives decision to ban earmarks, one of the keys historically to bipartisanship, has made it nearly impossible for a Speaker to control his party as well as to reach across the isle and garner Democratic support.

Until these impediments are addressed, I predict limited collaboration with the White House this Fall as well as next year.

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4VINDYAK(1799 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Working together is a 2-way street and I do not see the policy of "my way or the Highway" as working together.

When those such as poster eggomaniac declare "How did that work 4 you GOP? Wise up or this trend will continue", we see the future...a future of stonewalling by those who consider themselves chest beating victors rather than actually willing to do anything to solve our country's problems.

The policy of "We won, you lost, so shut up and go home" is not what we voters want to see happen in Washington, because it only hurts us all. Remember, voters elected Republicans as well to represent them in Washington, so they expect a say.

This current administration's victory was not an overwhelming mandate and there are still votes being counted in close races...so who wants to work together and who wants to brag about winning, but not getting anything accomplished?

I have already seen some Republican leaders open up to possible tax increases proposed by Democrats, so, if that is what people like egomaniac are looking for, then hold onto your wallets, we are in for a wild ride forward. Don't complain to me when you see prices rise, workers getting laid off and stocks falling.

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