THE presidential election is over and the voters have spoken. While Barack Obama wasn't our choice, we agree with Republican nominee Mitt Romney's call to “pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.”
Our country faces significant challenges, especially economic ones. To overcome them, Obama must now become the uniter he promised to be four years ago. There can be no more leading from behind — only true leadership will suffice. This means Obama must park the campaign bus for good and begin reaching across the aisle and actually compromise.
While Obama enjoyed a healthy Electoral College victory, he had a narrow win in the popular vote. His vote total declined by several million compared with four years ago. At the same time, voters re-elected a strong Republican majority to the U.S. House, showing a preference for checks and balances at the federal level.
Obama did not get a mandate for unfettered liberalism. He did get the chance to finally live up to his past promises. The upcoming lame-duck session of Congress will provide the president an opportunity to show the leadership he has promised but too often failed to deliver. Devastating defense cuts that would weaken our security and a looming fiscal cliff that could drive the economy into another recession must be avoided.
In victory, Obama said he was “looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.” He could back those words with action by setting aside his demand to increase taxes at a time of slow economic growth. That would show a willingness to compromise and also indicate that he's truly focused on rebuilding the economy, not promoting ideological causes.
For Republicans, the election results are a cause for reflection and re-evaluation. Democratic success in U.S. Senate races owed more to Republican candidates with foot-in-mouth disease than an embrace of Democratic solutions. Those races showed that Republican voters must do a better job of evaluating nominees in the future. In politics, the message and the messenger matter.
Furthermore, Romney got fewer votes nationally than 2008 nominee John McCain, who got fewer votes than George W. Bush in 2004. The party has lost the support of millions of citizens in recent years. To connect with those disenchanted voters, the GOP has to better communicate how conservative policies translate into pragmatic results that benefit average citizens. Ronald Reagan built an electoral majority by adding groups to the Republican Party. The modern GOP must do the same.
Romney displayed a graciousness in defeat that illustrated the characteristics we believe would have made him a good president. He's to be commended for running a serious campaign that focused on reviving the United States.
“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point,” he said. “At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing.”
We hope President Obama and members of Congress take Romney's words to heart.