Barack Obama won a moderately close victory over Mitt Romney on Tuesday. But oddly, nothing much has changed. The country is still split nearly 50/50. There is still a Democratic president, and an almost identically Democratic Senate at war with an identically Republican House, in a Groundhog Day America.
Obama's win did not really reflect affirmation of his first term, given that the president made only halfhearted efforts to defend Obamacare, the stimulus, huge Keynesian deficits and his attempts to implement cap and trade. So if there is a second-term agenda, even Obama supporters don't quite know what it will be
Unlike the “Hope and Change” campaign of 2008, Obama this time around ran on the theme that George W. Bush had been awful and Mitt Romney would be far worse.
In textbook community-organizing fashion, Obama won the election by brilliantly cobbling together factions with shrill warnings of supposed enemies everywhere. Young women were threatened by sexist Neanderthal males. Minorities were oppressed by neo-Confederate tea partiers. Greens were in danger from greedy, smokestack polluters. Gays were bullied by homophobic evangelicals. Illegal aliens were demonized by xenophobic nativists. And the 47 percent were at the mercy of the grasping 1 percent. Almost any American could fall into the category of either an Obama-aligned victim or a Romney-aligned oppressor.
How, then, can a re-elected President Obama put the fractured American Humpty Dumpty back together again after it has been shattered by such a nasty campaign? Certainly, it will no longer work for the president merely to wax eloquently on the need for more civility. Instead his congressional opponents will expect more hardball Chicago politics and will probably reply in kind.
Yet Obama is going to need bipartisan help to solve a number of menacing crises. Four years of Obama's $1 trillion deficits cannot continue without wrecking the country. A staggering national debt of nearly $17 trillion must be reduced before our currency is rendered worthless and the interest on the borrowing overwhelms the budget. Sequestration looms, with massive cuts in defense and entitlements on the immediate horizon, reminding us that we can neither live with the disease of massive borrowing nor apparently with the medicine of radical cuts and higher taxes.