America has spoken. President Obama won a surprisingly quick yet decisive victory on Tuesday night. For four long years, Republicans worked hard to make Barack Obama a one term President. They refused to work with him and moved further and further to the right in the process. Clearly, Americans found this move to the right revolting, thus paving the way for last night’s Presidential victory as well as Democratic victories in the Senate and wins against some of the most right-wing members of the House. So what does this election mean for America going forward? How will the election results impact this nation over the next four years and beyond?
This election was about many issues and at the forefront of those issues stood the economy and the war on women’s rights. With the re-election of President Obama, America has chosen to keep the policies that have been steadily growing the economy for the past two years and have duly punished Republicans for obstructing economic policies. Over the next four years, we should expect President Obama and Congress to re-attempt passage of the American Jobs Act and other measures the President has proposed to get America back to work. Perhaps the most dire work ahead of the government is the fiscal crisis that will require immediate attention before the end of the year. The most likely scenario in this situation is a compromise orchestrated by the leadership of both parties in Congress mediated by President Obama from a newly earned position of strength. Congressional Republicans found themselves taken to task in the polls during the last debt deal, so it is unlikely that they will seek a repeat. To that end, cuts to military spending and tax increases will be on the table and at long last the Bush Tax Cuts on the wealthy will come to an end, providing the revenue needed to help deal with the debt.
Of course, the election wasn’t all about the economy as Mitt Romney would have liked us all to believe. The war on women raged like a wildfire for the past two years. Since 2010, Republicans across the country took aim at the reproductive rights of women like never before. The GOP attempted to curb contraception, ban abortion, and came down particularly tough on victims of rape in the process. The Republican Party also obsessed over destroying Planned Parenthood, a crucial women’s health organization, and even denounced equal pay laws. Perhaps the most important voting group in this election was women, and that spelled doom for Republican Party aspirations. Women make up over half of the electorate and over half of the women who participated in the election on Tuesday night voted for President Obama. Not only that, women also were instrumental in electing more women to the US Senate, with victories in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Missouri, Hawaii and elsewhere. When the new Congress begins work in January, women will make up one-fifth of the new Senate. It’s still not enough, but it’s progress. Because of all of this, it would be unwise for Republicans at the federal level to attack women over the next four years. If they do, the wrath of women voters will be felt in 2014 as well and that is the last thing Republicans want to see happen. Most of the anti-women legislation came from Republican controlled state legislatures and we can expect Republicans to continue their assault at that level albeit to a lesser degree. President Obama has proven himself a champion on women’s issues and that will most certainly continue as we move forward.
Equality was not only at stake for women last night. The LGBT community also made significant gains. In Minnesota, voters defeated a proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Maine and Maryland became the first states to recognize and legalize same-sex marriage through the ballot and Wisconsin elected Tammy Baldwin, the first openly gay woman, to the US Senate. Americans have been swiftly changing their minds on the issue of marriage equality over the last few years. Over the next four years, we should expect this trend to continue at the state level. At the federal level it is unlikely that full marriage equality will happen over the next four years unless Democrats take back the House in 2014. But once again, President Obama is still in charge and is passionate about his stances on issues facing same-sex couples. Compromise in the House is possible on some issues, and if nothing can happen at the legislative level, the President can change many policies by executive order. America’s evolution on marriage equality will be interesting to watch over the next four years.
Perhaps the greatest impact the election will have is on the Supreme Court. Four of the nine Justices on the court are over the age of 70, with two, Anton Scalia and Anthony Kennedy turning 80 before the next presidential election. So it is very possible that over the next four years, President Obama might find himself presented with an opportunity to appoint two or more Justices to the nation’s highest court. A number of that magnitude is enough to turn the court from a conservative leaning court to a liberal leaning court. This is extraordinarily important. Any shift in the court’s composition will affect America for decades to come. Such a shift would almost certainly mean the reversal of Citizens United, thus ending the intrusion of billions of mostly anonymous dollars from individuals, corporations and organizations into our elections. A shift in the court would also protect Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing women the right to choose well into the future. A liberal leaning court would also protect Wall Street reform, the Affordable Care Act, environmental protections, voting rights, civil rights, the right to contraception, privacy in the bedroom, and so much more. The future beyond the next four years was absolutely at stake in this election. Americans knew this and they voted accordingly.
The 2012 Election will go down as a historic election that will reverberate across the country for decades to come. Over the next four years, America will transition from war into peace, from fierce division to compromise, from economic inequality to economic fairness, from bigotry to acceptance, and from fear to hope. The American people have chosen nation building here at home, a stronger education system, fair and compassionate immigration reform, and an energy plan that moves away from oil to the newer and more efficient energy sources of the future. Republicans will now fight among themselves about how their party moves forward, which most certainly requires a shift in how the party treats women, minorities, the poor, and people in general going forward. And that is precisely what this election was all about, the future of America and its people as a whole. That is the core reason why President Obama has been given four more years.