|“At a time like
this,” Romney told his Boston audience, “we
can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing.” He said
things in America are at a “critical point,” and he appealed to citizens
as well as politicians to “rise to the occasion.”
For once, it didn’t sound like political-speak. It was the conclusion
of a man who loves his country and had just lost an election despite winning
the male vote, the white vote, the married vote, and the vote of people over
In Chicago, President Obama told an enthusiastic crowd, “What makes
America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation
on earth.” Obama won a remarkable 93 percent of the black vote, plus over
70 percent of the Hispanic and Asian vote. He won among females, unmarried people,
and those earning less than $50,000 a year.
In truth, Obama and Romney were each victorious — among the distinctly
different segments of our population for which each party’s platform was
designed. Voters, for the most part, were over-informed. Rich folks knew that
Obama wanted to raise their taxes; poor people knew that Romney hoped to cut
their government assistance. And so forth and so on, through a long and contentious
list of issues from reproductive rights, to gay rights; from energy to environment.
Perhaps the clearest sign of how sharply divided the nation is on economic
and social issues is that war — usually a flashpoint in presidential elections,
especially when we’re in the middle of one — seemed to matter very
little. Indeed, the candidates were hard pressed in their final debate on foreign
affairs to find points on which they disagreed.
“The recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end
all the gridlock,” the president said, “or solve all our problems
or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult
compromises needed to move this country forward.”
Hours later there was a slight hint at progress, as House Speaker John Boehner
said Republicans are now willing to “accept new revenue” as a means
to avoid the nation's “fiscal cliff.”
Sen. Olympia Snowe, the moderate Republican from Maine who is stepping down,
cautions, “Our leaders must understand that there is not only strength
in compromise, courage in conciliation and honor in consensus-building — but
also a political reward for following these tenets.” Alas, Snowe believes
things won’t change in the foreseeable future.
The nation entered the 2012 election with only a handful of “battleground” states
not clearly defined as red or blue. Based on Tuesday’s results there will
be even fewer such battlegrounds in the years ahead.
The encouraging news for Democrats is that the population continues to expand
in their direction. The frustration for Republicans is that no amount of campaign
spending or sophisticated marketing will change people’s minds about certain
core beliefs. Thus, the GOP can’t broaden its base without fundamentally
altering some of its positions.
When all was said and done, the nation decided to pretty much leave things
exactly where they’ve been.
To borrow an old cliche from the legal profession, President Obama seems to
have won the equivalent of a pie-eating contest, in which the prize is more pie.
(c) Peter Funt. This column was originally distributed by the Cagle Syndicate.