Time for Obama to lead on bipartisan solutions

November 8, 2012 

With President Obama's victory, Republican control of the House and Democrats a majority in the Senate, the key question coming out of this status quo election is the same one bedeviling the nation for the past two years: Will political gridlock continue to stymie progress on the vital issues?

In his victory speech at about 2 a.m. EST Wednesday, Obama spoke more eloquently than he had during the entire campaign -- a reminder of his oratorical skills on display four years ago. He again spoke of hope.

"Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual. You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. ..."

If the president fails to deliver on that pledge of bipartisan problem-solving, the country will remain stuck in neutral. Obama and the Democrats only have themselves to blame for gridlock by expending all their political capital during his first two years in office with passage of the Affordable Care Act and the economic stimulus package, ramrodding both through over virulent Republican objections.

But today is a new day.

In his concession speech, Mitt Romney echoed the bipartisan theme. "The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work. And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion."

Both Obama and Romney presented words of statesmanship, the idea that civility and compromise should prevail over the rigid ideology that has crippled our politics.

With the majority of Americans still pessimistic about the economy and the country approaching the fiscal cliff that could spark another recession, statesmanship is critical. President Obama must lead the way.

One of his most memorable lines, one that drew loud applause, speaks to Americans of all political persuasions:

"I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try."

Now our leaders need to nurture that opportunity with bipartisan policies.

On amendments, justices

Florida's voters delivered a stern message to the Republican-led Legislature by repudiating eight of 11 amendment proposals that lawmakers put on the ballot. The appealing titles placed over the confusing and sometime lengthy language did not fool the electorate.

Amendment 8, the so-called "religious freedom" proposal, would have allowed taxpayer money to be allocated to religious organizations, including schools. The first attempt to place this on the ballot was rejected by the state Supreme Court.

For this and other rulings, the Republican Party of Florida retaliated by campaigning against the retention of three judges deemed to be "activist." Even some prominent Republicans objected to this party campaign.

The amendment was subsequently rewritten and approved for the ballot, but was rejected.

Voters also wisely snubbed the RPOF's attempt to meddle in our independent and impartial judicial system by approving the retention of all three justices.

Three compassionate amendments that provided property tax breaks to three deserving groups of Florida homeowners passed.

The lesson to the Legislature should be don't try to fool voters into casting ballots against their own best interests.

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