It was a hard-fought, and at times, bitter election that drew clear distinctions between the Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s conservative philosophy of limited government and trickle down economics, and President Barack Obama’s more liberal view that growth comes out of opportunity for the middle class and the wealthy paying their fair share.
But in the end, more Americans across the country, and particularly in key battleground states, chose to stay the course, re-electing the nation’s first African-American president to another term.
Four years ago, Barack Obama ran on a platform that promised change in Washington, and hope for a brighter future. With soaring rhetoric and a confidence that exceeded his mere two years in national politics, he sold his vision to the country and to the world, even those skeptical that a Black man could actually win the presidency a mere half century after Jim Crow had kept Black from even being able to vote.
He was great at selling a vision. But pundits and pollsters weren’t sure how effective President Obama would be at selling a record. As president, his vision has taken shape. It many ways, it has gone as planned. But, in other ways, change in Washington—even for the man who has forever changed American politics—has been a tough nut to crack.
The biggest question heading into Election Day—whether voter turnout would be high as it was in 2008—was answered with a resounding yes, as lines outside polling stations were as long as they were four years ago. African-Americans, students and Hispanics were particularly fired up, knowing that their support would be key to the president winning a second term.
In the end, Obama’s victory perhaps secures his legacy as one of the great U.S. presidents, and, to many, served as confirmation that America has indeed turned a corner in race relations. While dog whistle racial politics were at play throughout the campaign, it didn’t dominate the conversation, and it didn’t influence enough voters to swing the election in favor of Romney.
As Obama looks to the next four years, he undoubtedly hopes for more cooperation from Republican lawmakers in helping him jumpstart programs that will stimulate job growth. With no more elections hanging in the balance, conservative leaders should be more willing to work with the president on a jobs bill and debt and deficit reduction measures.