While concern mounts over the looming fiscal issues facing our nation, the reelection of President Barack Obama has many worried about the business and economic environment over the next four years. Their fears are not unreasonable. The past four years have been characterized by policies that have put more strain on businesses, worsened unemployment and burdened future generations with growing debt. It's understandable for people like me -- people who saw Governor Mitt Romney as America's best hope for economic recovery and prosperity -- to be devastated by the election results.
However, I was raised to appreciate the value of democracy and see the positive in any situation. So here is what I'm reminding myself of to stay optimistic about the future:
1. It is not that bad. We survived the last four years and we will survive four more. Most of the harm was done in the first two years with full Democratic control of the White House and Congress. In those first two years, President Obama was able to pass anti-business policies like Obamacare, Cash for Clunkers, Dodd-Frank and the $787 billion stimulus package. With Republican control in the House and a powerful minority in the Senate, any legislation will have to include significant compromise.
2. President Obama is a known quantity. There is no doubt that President Obama is a patriotic American. He is a known quantity and is unlikely to veer suddenly or surprisingly. He will not want to go down in history as a president who hurt our finances and veered us off course. Without reelection concerns, he can focus his time on solving America's biggest problems without having to answer to special interests. Currently, the president faces gridlock, an impending fiscal cliff and unsustainable debt. This is his opportunity to put aside blind partisanship and work with a divided Congress to make the tough decisions facing our economy.
3. Obama has some good policies. I have never totally agreed with all of the policies of any candidate, but I do admit that I like some of President Obama's views on social issues. These will by no means be the defining issues of his presidency, but they do provide some common ground and a silver lining of Obama's presidency.
4. I will focus on the positives. On a personal level, I have it pretty good no matter who sits in the Oval Office. I have a wonderful job. I have written a new book. My wife and I have a new baby and we are building a house. The Consumer Electronics Association's event, the International CES, is looking great for 2013, and innovation will keep moving us forward even if it's hampered sometimes by government policy. The U.S. is an exceptional nation because its freedoms allow America's great innovators to be the real drivers of economic success. Innovation creates jobs, markets and new industries where none existed before. Most important, innovation moves us forward as a nation, pushing us to succeed and strive for a better tomorrow.
5. There's always the midterm election in 2014. House and Senate elections serve as an insurance policy if President Obama takes us too far astray. The 2010 elections did just that, and served as a block for radical action when the Republicans regained the House and the Democrats lost many Senate seats. Similarly, the upcoming midterm election could serve as a reality check if progressive fiscal policy starts going too far, or it could swing the other way if Republicans refuse to meet in the middle.
President Obama's return to office was a message not a mandate. The American people said that they're comfortable enough with President Obama to return him to office in these uncertain times. As long as the president keeps asking himself, "How can we make America a better nation in the next four years?" I think we'll be okay.
Gary Shapiro's latest book is Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World's Most Successful Businesses