President Barack Obama won a second term Tuesday in a squeaker of an election. Though the economy took center stage for attacks on his administration, he did not go down in flames like Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, Greece’s George Papandreou, Spain’s Jose Louis Rodriguez Zapatero, Britain’s Gordon Brown, Ireland’s Brian Cowen or Jose Socrates of Portugal over the debt crisis and austerity measures.
The election was the easy part, now the hard, difficult work has to begin. Normally we would applaud a do nothing Congress, however, there are several items that must be addressed before President Obama takes the oath of office for a second term. The so-called “Lame Duck” Congress has to dig out of a hole of its own creation. Sequestration was supposed to force Congress into a compromise on spending and the deficit, instead, it just allowed lawmakers to lay low until they found out who would be sitting next to them in the 113th Congress and who would occupy the White House. Members of Congress can hold a grudge over losses, but they must get to work. Inaction would certainly plunge the country into a double-dip recession -- dimming hopes of maintaining power for both parties.
Will Congress, particularly the House, continue its obstructionist course now that Obama has won a second term? Will Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader in the Senate, revise his priorities now that his wish of making Obama a one-term president has failed? History tells us that past Congresses have become even more entrenched after tight elections.
President Obama has to lead the charge to help heal this deeply divided nation. The rhetoric has been severe, but it’s time for all to stand down. We get to choose our leaders every, two, four and six years according to our Constitution. The process has worked. Now our leaders need to get to work, too. We live in a special place. Our armies weren’t put on alert and there were no tanks in the streets to maintain order. We can all go back to our normal lives as Americans, stripped of all the election hoopla that split us into separate camps.
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