President Barack Obama gestures during a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, to urge Congress to pass a federal highway bill. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The election is over, the campaign dust is settling, and the American people can take a deep, collective breath — Barack Obama has been re-elected President of the United States.
For many, the 2012 campaign was a long, gruelling and vicious race marked by an unusual amount of mud-slinging, spin and outright deceit on both sides of the political divide.
That rhetoric resulted in a divided populace, looking for answers to the big questions facing Americans in all of the wrong places. But they couldn’t ignore the facts.
The fact is, since Barack Obama was elected to his first term in office, he has achieved — or attempted — almost everything he said he would do on the campaign trail.
Obama said he would get Americans out of Iraq, and then he did. He said he would introduce universal healthcare, and then he did. He said he would end the fight with al-Qaeda, and then he executed Osama Bin Laden, delivering a decisive blow to the organization.
During his presidency, the American economy has slowly (and steadily) been recovering, it’s social policy has advanced by leaps and bounds, and it’s badly tarnished international image has gradually been restored.
Mitt Romney would not have offered the same.
In the Republican primaries, Romney campaigned from a hard right angle. There was no centrism in his campaign for the party’s presidential nomination. And yet, when he had secured candidacy and was shifting into the political mainstream, his stances shifted, as well.
Romney’s tendency to change his mind on the campaign trail was something the Obama campaign targeted heavily down the stretch, eventually coining the term ‘Romnesia.’
The degree to which Romney appeared indecisive, and his willingness to change stances in order to chase stronger polling numbers, was troubling.
After all of the gaffes on his campaign — the questionable and (sometimes) outright racist remarks, the ridiculously out-of-touch assertions — Romney had followed Obama into his very own Waterloo.
Whereas Obama has remained fixated on his ambitions in spite of growing unpopularity and harsh criticism from portions of the electorate, his own party, and the opposition, Romney bent. As a result, he looked malleable, impressionable, and even weak.
Following the night of the election, anybody with friends remotely involved in or concerned about politics could have found the triumphant tweets and defeatist Facebook status updates discussing the election’s outcome.
One of my own friends stuck to simple, time-honoured language with her own comment: “God save America.”
Not everybody, it seems, is a fan of Obama. After that revelation, it’s hard to peg what, exactly, was the final nail in Romney’s political casket.
While it’s doubtful that Americans were paying much attention to his numbers outside of the country (they didn’t during Bush’s campaign for a second term), there is always the possibility that the BBC survey showing overwhelming international support for Obama influenced the votes of some.
It could have been Romney’s hubris. The man’s shocking tendency to say absurd things on the national stage and his declaration that he hadn’t penned a concession speech likely rubbed many voters the wrong way, as did his apparent lack of preparation for the first and third presidential debates.
About those debates — Obama’s strong performance in the third and final one may have been what sold him. While the Republicans sought to paint him as a soft president, his swing-for-the-fences approach in that final debate, and Romney’s unpreparedness for the onslaught, confirmed he could be anything but.
Whatever the reason, the American people renewed Obama’s lease on the White House for another four years, affording him the possibility of actual governance following an initial term marred by political dissidence.
In this term, the president vowed, “I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”
Let’s hope he was telling the truth, and let’s hope the Republicans are receptive. Otherwise, our neighbours to the south are in for another long four years.