Last night, Obama made history. He was the first President since FDR to be re-elected under such tough economic conditions. He was the first President since the early 20th Century to be re-elected against such broad-based opposition by powerful special interests. And he was the first President to achieve such a victory by building a base of support almost entirely composed of grass-roots America.
This re-election wave also served up substantial gains for Democrats in both the House and Senate. Democratic majorities in the US Senate expanded, while Republican majorities in the US House narrowed. These strong wins, after Republicans worked tirelessly to obstruct, sabotage, and ensure Obama’s first term was branded a ‘failure.’
But Obama’s successes would not be overshadowed. His saving of the US auto industry ensured his strength among rust-belt states. His hard fight to establish economic recovery resulted in jobs gains throughout the election that continued to erode and disprove the Republicans’ endless negative narrative. Obama’s smart handling of the Sandy disaster showed not only strong leadership, it illustrated the increasing danger of human-caused climate change. A climate change crisis Republicans have continuously denied. Perhaps, most telling of all, were Romney’s numerous attempts to take credit for Obama’s successes. All such brazen attempts fell short, accumulating in a snow-drift of Republican lies and misinformation.
Obama ran on a tax increase for the rich. Obama ran on economic fairness. Obama ran on building new energy sources of the future — wind, solar, electric vehicles. Obama ran on a vital government empowered to help people. And Obama won. He won handily. He won with the overwhelming endorsement of the electoral college. He won with more than 2.3 percent of the popular vote. And these Americans gave Obama the mandate to pursue tax increases in order to balance the budget, to pursue new energy solutions to climate change, and to continue to make the US economic and political system more fair.
American history is filled with examples of losing parties compromising and working with victorious Presidents. However, many among the Republican party continue to indicate they will not work with Obama. In fact, many attempted to deny the fact that Obama had any mandate whatsoever. Across the conservative media airwaves and via conservative pundits everywhere, the word most oft repeated about Obama’s re-election was ‘no mandate.’
This sick nonsense is just one more attempt to emasculate and render impotent the Obama Presidency. Not only is it callous, cynical, and calculating. It lacks any traditional American spirit of democratic cooperation. Already, Republicans have reverted back to campaign mode. Already Republicans are doing everything they can to deny their own role as governors responsible for their portion of American leadership. Instead, they’ve just put together another wave of Republican spit-ball and smear rhetoric.
But the attempt by Republican media, politicians and pundits to deny the reality of Obama’s clear mandate is among the more mild responses to the President’s re-election. Today, on Twitter, Donald Trump called for a revolution to overthrow Obama’s democratic election. Trump tweeted:
This election is a sham and a travesty! We are not a democracy!
More votes equals a loss… revolution!
We can’t let this happen! We should march on Washington and stop this travesty!
It should be noted, again, that Obama won the popular vote by nearly two million or 2.3 percent. A fact that seems to have been lost on Trump in his insane and violence-mongering rants.
Moving on to Mitch McConnell, we find nothing more than a continuation of brazen obstructionism. McConnell, in a statement yesterday evening asserted:
The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the president’s first term, they have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control.
McConnell still wrongly characterizes the Obama first term as a ‘failure.’ A failure McConnell worked as hard as he could to create. And, again, as seen endlessly repeated in the Republican media, the term no mandate is asserted. McConnell is simply trying to verbally diminish Obama while puffing up his own position. But the facts weight against McConnell and his lawyer-speak.
All that said, the two adults in the Republican room appear to be Mitt Romney and John Boehner. Romney gave a gracious concession speech last night. And Boehner, both yesterday and today, has made more conciliatory communications than those previously issued from his position. Though it is unlikely that Boehner will support any policy which will actually result in a comprehensive solution to the fiscal crisis — continuing to call for spending cuts to key programs while only issuing token support for increased revenues — he has issued some statements that appear to create a little daylight on this issue.
The American people re-elected the president, and re-elected our majority in the House. If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs, which is critical to solving our debt. I offer sincere congratulations to President and Mrs. Obama and to Vice President and Dr. Biden. I wish Mitt, Ann, Paul, Janna and their families well, and thank them for having carried the banner of our party and our principles with strength, grace, and courage.
Like McConnell, Boehner attempts to diminish Obama’s strong mandate. However, his statement is less pointed than the one issued by the Minority Leader. Boehner instead leans on cooperation rather than blithering on about imaginary Obama failures.
Today Boehner continued what appeared to be an honest opening for negotiation by saying that he would be open to increased revenues through euphemistic ‘changes in the tax code’ — closing loop-holes and the like. Policies, that, for the most part, sound a lot like those which Romney advocated during the election without that terrible and gigantic tax cut for the rich which he pushed so hard.
All that said, Boehner sets an honest table for bargaining and if his position is merely a flexible starting point and not an ultimatum then, perhaps, there may be a glimmer of hope for things starting to change in Washington.
In the end, it appears that the moderates of the Republican Party are again at war with its extremists. We had a similar battle in 2008 and the result was the Tea Party. The latest step in the long march by the Republican party toward the abyss of extremism. This time, hopefully, cooler heads will prevail. Indeed they should. Because that extremist agenda has been dealt a terrible blow before it even had an opportunity to do anything other than obstruct legitimate government.
A more rational policy would be for republicans to begin to show the ‘center-right’ side of republicanism. A real Reagan type republicanism that would actually accept the necessity of a tax increase. And yes, a republicanism that would accept expansions of government efforts in needed areas. That would give center-left democrats something to work with. And the result would be a taste of effective government. I believe the American people would find such a change refreshing.