You certainly know this by now — OK, for fuck’s sake, you SHOULD know this by now — but Pres. Barack Obama has won election to a second term in office.
Partisan politics aside, there is a strong argument to be made that Obama is objectively the better choice for America. (I am saying this as an independent voter. The closest thing I could be described as is a left libertarian who does not affiliate with a party. Think individual rights with universal health care, and you have the basic gist.)
However, “better” doesn’t really mean all that much when it’s used in relation to a rather low benchmark — in this case, Mitt Romney.
So what am I getting at?
Of course I’m relieved that Romney isn’t commander-in-chief. Not only would a Romney presidency have sustained the G.O.P.’s war on women, solidifying the patriarchy against which we’ve been fighting for the last half century. Rather, a Romney presidency would have also dealt a deadly blow to secularism, economic justice, civil rights, and the healthcare and immigration reform our country so direly needs.
That said, we still shouldn’t get too caught up in a celebratory circle jerk over Obama.
Yes, the “better” candidate won — congratufuckinglations — but that means absolutely nothing unless he does something. (In fact, any inactivity on the part of Obama in this second term will strengthen conservatives come 2016. They might be backward, but they are not so stupid as to miss an opportunity to slam Barack and Democrats for failing to enact reform.)
Granted, Obama does know that he has a lot of shit on his plate, saying in his victory speech: “In the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.”
However, even the single goal of fixing our fiscal clusterfuck is no small task. Unemployment continues to hover around 8 percent, and the national deficit has remained above $1 trillion for the past four years.
Voters recognize this, and this has made them very skeptical of Obama. As argued by Amy E. Black in the Christian Science Monitor, Obama is the first president since 1832 “to win a second term with a smaller percentage of votes than in his initial victory.” Judging from exit poll numbers, Black says, the minimal margin of victory indicates that voters are “ambivalent about the president and his record.”
What bolstered Obama, in fact, was that people happened to dislike his opponent even more.
Black advises that Obama make like Bill Clinton and engage Republicans in true bipartisan problem solving.
Indeed, Obama’s seat in the White House, coupled with Democrats’ Senate-bolstered stronghold in Washington, suggests that he has more than enough political muscle to accomplish just this. (Obviously, we’ll need some type of rules reform in the Senate so that it regains its legislative meaning — what, exactly, that change is remains unclear.)
If Democrats don’t deliver, they won’t just be accused of being “do-nothing” pols — they will set the stage for years of reactionary, Republican leadership.