President Obama’s re-election was more important and meaningful than his first. Let me explain.
When the president won his election against John McCain in 2008, it was heralded as a historic moment in America. The election of the first African American was seen as groundbreaking. Even if Hillary Clinton had been nominated instead, she still would have won and it would have been just as historic. But she did not: Barack Obama got nominated, he beat John McCain, and he became president. But any Democrat would have; I am not taking anything away from the president, but after eight years of George Bush the country was looking for a change— a drastic change— and it elected a relatively young and inexperienced Senator as President of the United States.
This has been Barack Obama’s Achilles heel, and the main excuse the Republicans have utilized for their intransigence in refusing to work with him during his first term. To the GOP, and to a significant segment of the American electorate, Barack Obama was seen as illegitimate and a fluke, he was a reflexive response to the Bush administration; he was the exact opposite of what we had. So began the litany of tirades against him: they said ‘We elected a slogan (“Hope and Change”) instead of a leader,’ ‘He is inexperienced,’ ‘He is a walking teleprompter,’ and their main objective was, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, to make Obama a “one term president.” This is not a way to govern a country, especially after the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
What last week’s election did was reaffirm the will of the people and deny the GOP their platform of the past four years. Yes, Barack Obama set a historic precedent with his initial election in 2008, but what last week’s election did was solidify his initial victory and give him, and to an extent his policies, the political capital and clout needed to govern. It also put the Republicans back on their heels and necessitated their need to work with the president, rather than against him. This has been evident through the statements of GOP leaders across the board over the past several days in their conciliatory tone and demeanor.
The president’s re-election was a validation and a vindication of his win four years ago. Whereas second terms are usually uneventful and not as successful as the first, the reaffirmation of Barack Obama can be seen as more historic in its legitimization of his initial election. Perhaps this will change the historical tide against an incumbent president and bring about some real “Hope and Change” in the form of a solution to the impending fiscal cliff, immigration reform, and the countless other issues facing the nation presently and in the future.
The election was not a definitive mandate for something specific, but it was for the government, and our elected leaders, to assist in solving our collective issues. Now that the GOP no longer sees Obama’s defeat as their greatest issue, perhaps they can offer productive solutions to work with a president who after four years has been validated as legitimate. Obama’s vindication will now rest on his ability to live up to his goal of real and lasting “hope and change.”