The election is over - now what?

Looking forward to the next four years

On November 7, 2012


After months of rigorous campaigning and over a year of election preparation, we finally have a victor and a familiar one at that. President Barack Obama was re-elected by the nation for a second term - for four more years and one more chance.

By the time of press, President Obama had won the election with 303 electoral votes to Mitt Romney's 206 votes, taking the popular vote by nearly 55 million votes. Some of the most important battleground states didn't even come into effect - Florida still has yet to be accounted for, and there was no winner projected for Ohio when all major networks projected the winner of the election.

As we re-elect our president for a second term, we have the opportunity to not just look forward to the next four years but to reflect on the last four.

It's been a long campaign season, and the debates and missteps of recent months have led to a lot of conversation on how we stand as a world power. Let's go back to the debates and think about the third one, which was supposed to be a discussion on foreign policy. Romney was ambiguous, and people were unsure if he could lead the country in a way that was appropriate. At the same time, the president has been criticized as weak and appeasing, especially in his response to the attacks in Benghazi on Sep. 11.

But as aggressive as people claim Romney would be, Obama is not the meek, weak commander in chief who many people have said he is. And after killing Osama bin Laden and many major al-Qaeda leaders, overthrew Gaddafi and pulled out of the war in Iraq, the overall image of the country has arguably improved since Barack Obama, especially in the eyes of our allies.

This election has proved something that our president might not have expected: people do not feel entirely confident with him. CNN polls from last month gave Romney a nine-point lead when asked who the American people felt could manage the economy better. Promises that our country would be under 6 percent unemployment by this time were left unanswered, and the rate has just recently reached under 8 percent.

But with many complaints came many accomplishments. Though controversial, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, focused on decreasing the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the cost of health care, set to go into effect by 2014.

We've seen the auto industry bailout and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Obama increased funding for student financial aid, reformed the student loan program and oversaw an expansion to the Pell Grants program.

And in Dec. 2010, Obama signed the bill repealing the 17-year-old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy: the controversial law that banned openly gay men and women from serving in the armed forces.

In the next four years, collaboration and compromise is a must. The resistant conversation of every presidency is how the president-elect shifts to become too moderate or appeases the opposite political party, but as cliché as it sounds, nothing will get done if President Obama and the Republican-led Congress do not work together in the next four years.

What comes next? Maybe four more of the same - we don't know. There has been a recurring argument that President Obama couldn't possibly fix the mess left for him in four years. As a nation, we can now only look forward to seeing what he will do in eight years.

But with Tuesday's victory, America proved that while it might be a little wary about re-electing Obama, it's willing to give him a second chance. The stigma that came with Mitt Romney was that you didn't know what you were going to get out of him. Would we, as a nation, see a Conservative commander or a Moderate Mitt? Romney's vague platforms and Obama's incumbency played in Obama's favor, but the proximity of this election might be what the president needs to motivate him.



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