Politicians should find compromise
Cameras caught President Barack Obama’s supporters dancing into the early morning in Chicago, following his re-election. For one night, Obama was no longer the divisive and indecisive leader. He was the hero who was ready for his second act. The cameras failed to record, to the same extent, the bitter Republicans on the other side of a divide that has become increasingly evident. How these two sides come together will have a significant impact on how Obama continues the goals from his first term.
An immediate test of bipartisan dialogue is the “fiscal cliff,” the nearly $700 billion in combined tax increases and spending cuts set to begin next year. Following the election, Republican House Speaker John Boehner voiced his willingness to negotiate with Obama as long as tax rates remain untouched. Obama, however, has campaigned on his desire to raise taxes on the wealthy.
One side has to give. While reforming and simplifying the tax code is necessary, Americans seem to support higher taxes. Tuesday’s exit polls revealed that 60 percent of voters support tax increases.
Obama’s re-election was also a victory for his prized healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. Republicans’ hopes of repealing all or parts of Obamacare took a sobering hit with former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s defeat and the Democrats retaining the majority in the House of Representatives.
Thus, 2014 will likely see the introduction of the individual mandate requiring most Americans to purchase health insurance and confirming the expansion of Medicaid.
Since Obama’s second-term economic policy will require significant patience to implement, I see him tackling social issues in the meantime. With referendums passing gay marriage in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, the movement to legalize same-sex marriage seems to be gaining momentum.
But even with Obama’s official support for gay marriage, legalizing it nationwide faces long odds. As of now, 31 states, mostly in the South, have constitutional amendments that ban gay marriage.
Another social issue that will challenge Obama lies in immigration reform. During his first term, his failure to introduce an immigration bill was due to the troubling economy and Republican intransigence. This time, he has no excuse.
Motivated by their lack of support from the Latino and Hispanic community — which voted for Obama over Romney 71 percent to 27 percent, according to CNN — Republicans will be willing to cooperate on immigration. Any bill will likely focus on strengthening borders and offering paths to citizenship for hard-working and educated foreigners.
This brings us to the Republican Party. If this election revealed anything, it was that the demographics of this country and American values are changing. Republicans need to reach out to the growing community of young Americans, women, and Latinos by changing their stance on abortion and gay marriage. This is the 21st century, and Americans’ progressive social morals should be reflected in Republican politics.
When it comes to the presidential election, America made the safe choice. The rate of economic recovery has been underwhelming and serious considerations must be taken into the excessive spending in demanding programs such as Social Security and Medicare. However, the changes presented by Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan were too extreme and too soon.
The ambitious promises Obama made four years ago will not be realized, but that doesn’t mean his policies have failed. The housing market is slowly recovering, and the unemployment rate is at its lowest since he took office in 2008. Ultimately, though, it’ll take great compromise from both sides of the aisle to achieve true progress for the country.