Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The People Have Spoken

So, the election is all over bar the shoutin’! And if you’re from a “swing” state, I’m sure you’re beyond relieved. The rest of us could have slept through the whole affair - says a lot for the Electoral College take on democracy.

How did this election ever end up so competitive – in popular votes, at least? Why would 49% of the country be willing to invest their hopes in a candidate whose only economic policy was “trust me I’m a businessman?”

Oh well, in the end sanity prevailed. But it was a close call and, perhaps, when all is said and done, Gov. Romney would have made a decent president. We’ll never know, given that his views changed more often than Westport weather.

The important question now is will President Obama waste the next two years, as he did his first two, fantasizing that Congressional Republicans will make any meaningful compromise to promote both economic growth and deficit reduction.

He’s got less than seven weeks to come up with a plan that will prevent the “fiscal cliff” can from being booted into next year. What’s so difficult? Cuts will have to be made in entitlements and taxes raised on those earning above $250,000.

There is no lack of credible plans, including the Simpson-Bowles Report; it’s political courage that’s in short supply.

The President should be bold – what has he got to lose? His next race will probably be the 2017 New York Marathon. And he shouldn’t waste his time smoking cigarettes and drinking martinis with Republican House Leader, John Boehner – that man will have enough on his plate dodging his backstabbing second in command, Rep. Eric Cantor.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will be of even less help: with the Tea Party threatening a primary challenge, look for him to be veering somewhere to right of Attila The Hun over the next two years.

The President should put a reasonable offer on the table; then take his case to the country. Many Republican seats will be up for election in 2014 and blatant obstructionism will not be a popular platform on which to run. The people want a meaningful political compromise that will keep them off the bread lines while paying down the Chinese credit card.

One thing we will get is emigration reform and mucho pronto. In fact it will be a rare Republican who will not be sporting a sombrero and munching on tacos over the next four years. Gov. Romney would be packing for the Oval Office now if he hadn’t advised “self-deportation” to a politically astute and growing Latino population.

No matter what Fox TV says - there has to be a pathway for decent, hard-working people to gain legal status while continuing to contribute to the growth of the country.

One of the highlights of election night was witnessing how democracy is nurtured by the forging of coalitions. President Obama was re-elected by a wide-ranging alliance not limited to women, young people, Latinos, African-Americans, union-members, entrepreneurs, gays, and people from all across the political spectrum who see strength in diversity and community.

The country is evolving and changing – not just in the urban areas but out in the heartland too. American’s greatest resource has always been its vast melting pot that encourages people to reach out beyond their own ethnic and socio-economic confines. Historically, any political party that turns its back on changing demographics does so at its peril.

There will be changes in the ranks of power down in DC. Look for Senator Elizabeth Warren to protect the rights of the consumer and to help a lightly regulated financial industry understand that there’s more to this country than just making a buck.

But perhaps most importantly - two misguided little men will not pervert the corridors of DC with their antediluvian notions that rape is ever “legitimate” or the “will of God.”

The election is indeed over – the people have spoken. It’s time for both sides to give up the petty party politics and work together to restore the country to a sound social and economic footing.

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