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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Tuesday, May 28, 2024
Melvin Gordon

'The best is yet to come'

The optimism and star-power that propelled Barack Obama into office four years ago was immediately met by challenging realities of the time: an economy struggling to regain its footing after the worst recession since the Great Depression and two wars in a volatile Middle East, among other issues.

While the economy under the president has grown steadily over the past four years, even he admits progress has been disappointingly slow. But despite continuing adversity and an America that some say has not been so divided since the Civil War, the American people chose once again to believe in Obama’s vision for the country, electing him to serve four more years as president of the United States Tuesday.

In his rhetorically soaring acceptance speech, Obama sought to paint his re-election as the beginning of a new chapter of his presidency and the country.

“Our economy is recovering, a decade of war is ending, and a long campaign is over,” Obama told thousands of supporters gathered to see him speak in his hometown of Chicago. “For the United States of America, the best is yet to come.”

But Obama’s road to re-election was far from easy. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party ran an impassioned campaign that blamed Obama for the stagnant economy and incremental job growth, offering instead a blueprint for the country designed to spur growth by lowering taxes and regulations on businesses.

For 49 percent of the nation, Romney’s message worked. As of 2 a.m. Wednesday, Obama had received 303 electoral votes compared to Romney’s 206, but the popular vote was within only two million votes nationally. In Wisconsin, Obama won 52 percent of the votes and Romney received 46.8 percent.

This division is reflective of an electorate that has proved to be seemingly split down the middle between two different visions for the county.

This division is apparent in Washington, D.C., where the current federal government has been locked in contentious political gridlock since 2010, when Republicans gained majority control of the U.S. House of Representatives, while Democrats continued to maintain majority in the Senate.

Obama sought to move beyond the highly partisan atmosphere in Chicago Tuesday, calling for more bipartisanship so government can get to work addressing problems the country faces. He did, however, call the “noisy and complicated” political climate a natural product of democracy and a “mark of our liberty.”

“We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply,” he said.

But University of Wisconsin-Madison Political Science Professor David Canon said breaking the gridlock is still an uphill battle.

“I think the Tea Party still has a lot of influence in the House, they’re not going to be in any mood to compromise right now,” Canon said, adding that given Tuesday’s big win for Democrats, who now control the presidency and Senate, Republicans may have to move further left to avoid driving the country off a looming fiscal cliff.

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As for Obama, a victory means he no longer faces re-election, which Canon said could mean he will try and push for more politically sensitive issues on his agenda, like immigration reform.

What four more years under Obama will mean for the country is impossible to predict, but he assured the nation Tuesday he will return to the White House “more determined and inspired than ever.”

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