Friday, November 9, 2012

Rewarding Achievement and Punishing Obstruction

Obama became the first Democrat since FDR to win 2 terms with 50+% of the popular vote both times.

I've been tired and busy since Tuesday night and haven't had time to post my thoughts on the election until now.

As a liberal, obviously I'm pleased with Tuesday's election results. Four years ago I was a lot more excited, whereas this time around I'm just more relieved that President Obama will be able to continue the progress he's made in the last four years.

He admittedly underestimated just how fierce the opposition and obstruction would be after winning a landslide election in 2008. With the country facing huge problems, it's natural to expect at least some cooperation from the party that was just soundly rejected at the polls.

I imagine the President's outlook has changed and since he will now have the leverage, both politically and policy-wise, in most of the big upcoming negotiations, he will use it like a club.

This was really the first Presidential election the Democrats have won since LBJ without needing either a booming economy to run on (Clinton '96) or a having the opposing party be presiding over recession or a recent scandal ('76, '92, '08). They were able to win with just good old-fashioned politics: messaging, voter outreach, ground game, and last and most importantly, the better candidate.

Besides my policy preferences, I think it was very important that Obama was re-elected for two main reasons:

First, for voters to reward the out-party for four years of obstruction and economic sabotage would have been a terrible precedent for our democracy. And it likely would have made that cycle continue for the near future. The Democrats would have then responded by mostly obstructing the Republican president out of revenge. Wash, rinse, repeat. Our democracy has a much better chance of functioning properly now that Obama was re-elected by a solid margin and holds leverage over the Republicans on taxes, the deficit, spending, and immigration. Voters have justly punished the Republicans for their obstruction, inaction, and extremism of the past four years. The incentives for both sides now, at least for this year, point toward cooperation and compromise.

And secondly, given our country's historical scars of slavery, Jim Crow, and race relations in general, it was very important that Obama was re-elected, maybe even more important than electing him in the first place. Otherwise, the first black President, who was came into office facing the biggest challenges in 80 years would have been rejected just four years later for not fixing everything immediately. The confusing demoralizing message to minority voters would have been, "well we tried the black guy and that didn't work out well enough, so we're going back to the white guy with the same policies that caused this mess." Objectively, there would be no other way to read that result without attributing the worst motives to many of the people who voted against Obama.

So, I'm proud of our country for achieving this result for these two very important reasons.

I'll be posting some other takeaways from this election later. 

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