Does the election change anything? What happens now?
President Barack Obama has been reelected, and the Republicans have held on to control of the House of Representatives. There is no real change.
The Republicans are disappointed. Apparently, Gov. Mitt Romney thought he was going to be the next Commander-in-Chief. The Republicans did not fare well in the voting booth with Hispanics, minorities, single women and young people—while Obama successfully organized this coalition of "unprecedented diversity." However, already many Republican leaders are blaming their defeat in the presidential race on Romney being a poor candidate, making missteps during the campaign and the superior campaign organization and operation of the Obama team.
They do not seem feel they have a problem with a declining core of older, white males as the base of the party. They should be worried that the changing demographics of this country bode ill for them in the future unless they make some changes.
But there is no evidence yet of any change. They hold strong views on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage--views which are not popular with the emerging new young voter. Some Republicans still adamantly declare they will never vote for any tax increase on the super-rich taxpayer.
It remains to be seen if a new tough aggressive Obama will appear and be able to negotiate a compromise on taxes and spending which is palatable to his opponents.
It is more likely that we will continue to have gridlock and polarization on vital issues.
The country will go over the so called "fiscal cliff" December 31 unless both parties reach an accord. Most economists say the resulting raising of taxes and cutting spending in the middle of our modest economic recovery might lead to another recession.
The economy is slowly improving. It is, in fact, healthier and growing more than Europe with its austerity, cost cutting programs. Obama can try to pass a jobs bill, take action to relieve mortgage delinquency. put in place tax programs to take effect some time in the specified future. He can create incentives to create and keep jobs in this country. He can address economic inequality by raising taxes on the wealthy and making Wall Street financiers pay the same tax rate paid by workingmen and women.
He can increase funding for education, research and rebuild the infrastructure. The private sector cannot do these things alone. It needs government help to develop new ideas and projects like the computer, the Internet, the GPS system--all these came from government-funded research. If recent history is any example, Republicans in the House of Representatives will fight all or most of these proposals.
The Republicans have to decide who and what they will be. It is difficult to believe they will move to the center to capture minorities and young men and women. Will they become amenable to reasonable compromise on some of these issues? If the right-wing of the party decides the election was lost because the party was not far enough to the right and true to basic conservative principles, they will continue to obstruct Obama in the House of Representatives.
It is still a squabbling two-party system. Various third parties were on the ballot in many states, but had no real effect of the outcome. There are a number of third parties, but they do not garner many votes nationwide. We do not know for sure what happened to the Ron Paul primary voters. Did they stay home and withheld their vote from Romney and the GOP? Or did they held their nose and vote for Romney anyway, and he still lost?
If the third party movement is to be effective, action is needed. There needs to be an effort to get the leaders of all third parties to meet. They need to talk and see if there is a basis for agreement on some major issues--as there seems to be. If so, they should plan a convention of their members to talk and try to draft a platform of common goals.
They then need to select a leader to run for president in 2016 and recruit candidates for other positions.
Something has to be done. President Obama must become a fighting, determined President to bring about long term change, and the Republicans must change in many ways or become extinct as a viable party. There is little reason or evidence yet that this is a realistic possibility. The country cannot have or survive indefinite stalemate and repeated dangers of going over a "fiscal cliff."
It is a new world, and we need a new unified strong third political party that is centrist and pragmatic to solve our problems to enable us to live and prosper in this new world.
About the Author
John F. Kimberling is the author of "What This Country Needs: A New Political Party (Revised Edition Election 2012)" (Polimedia Publishing, $4.95) a study of voter alienation and a manifesto for political change. Kimberling is widely known as a leading U.S. litigation specialist, a charter member of the ABA section on litigation, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a veteran of two wars, and at various times served in leadership positions in both the Democratic and Republican parties. He was once hailed by The American Lawyer as the "one of the top trial lawyers in the country" and led a panel as moderator on a C-SPAN discussion titled "Is It Time for a New Political Party?"