The losing Republican candidate – and it feels good to
write these words – hit all the high notes in graciously talking about unity,
compromise, working together, what makes America great and so forth. If Romney had
revealed such an intellectual, moderate and compassionate side during the
election campaign, the nation might have believed he was such a person. And he
might have had a chance at winning.
But he didn’t.
And that’s why America’s victory — President Barack
Obama’s re-election to a second and final four-year term – is a great win for the world.
Obama’s re-election is a triumph over the racist,
narrow-minded, gun-toting, hate-filled, tax-cheating, religious bigots,
xenophobes and other kooks stirred up by right-wing billionaires who channeled enormous
amounts of money on behalf of Romney’s negative campaign. Most Republicans who voted for Romney don’t fit this description, but most who do fit this description went for Romney.
The truth doesn’t always win out, or necessarily emerge
in our lifetimes, but in this campaign it did.
And it was Romney’s own words that revealed his divisive
character and moral repugnance when he wrote off 47 percent of Americans as
irresponsible deadbeats. Those remarks, videotaped at a private fundraiser he
was hosting last spring, were exposed in September. He never recovered from the
damage. Nor did he deserve to recover. Those remarks exposed what kind of
president he would have been. He would have been dedicated to making the rich even
richer, while inciting the rest of us to fight amongst ourselves over various social
issue that deflect our attention from the way America is losing its moral claim
to being the land of equal opportunity.
Romney richly deserves to be in the ash heap of
American politics. Even if he repudiated the right-wing hate-mongers who backed
him so zealously—not so much for love of the Republican candidate, but out of raw
hatred for Obama – he missed his chance.
I hope all of those people who couldn’t stand Obama
just because of his race, who blamed him for everything, who posted on the
Internet photos of him with a noose around his neck will decide to examine
their hearts, minds and souls. I hope they become real Americans again – and that
means loving the nation again.
Being a patriot in America means that compromise,
sacrifice and tolerance are required.
It means helping everybody get a fair shot at success.
It means supporting government spending on education, infrastructure, essential
regulation, protecting the environment and the like. Only a just society is truly prosperous and competitive.
And it means paying taxes – and the only fair way to tax
is on the ability to pay. America’s fiscal mess will require a combination of spending
cuts and tax increases to fix.
But the Republicans, who still control the U.S. House
of Representatives, have vowed not to compromise with Obama. They still resist
any tax increases. And they would be ruthless in cutting government spending.
If the Republicans continue down this obstructionist
path, America’s two-party system is imperiled – because their unfortunate choice
of candidates will only get them the votes of selfish, rich, white men in the
future. And there are just not enough of them to win an election.
But now that Obama has won, it’s also time to
challenge the president and the Democrats to do better.
Far from being a socialist as his critics deride, Obama
sometimes acts like an establishment Republican for his unwillingness to
challenge Wall Street excesses, corporate greed, a bloated military and
institutionalized government favors for the wealthy 1 percent. My friend in
Kyiv, Democrat Reno Domenico, says America is in danger of becoming an
oligarchy like Ukraine. I think that’s not the case yet, but my nation is certainly
heading in this direction.
I also hope Obama finds a way to get the nation’s
economy on track while reducing the nation’s debt. It won’t be an easy
challenge, leaving little room for celebration.
Americans should also re-examine their election
system. Explaining to Ukrainians why my nation clings to an electoral system
that could give victory to the candidate with fewer votes is increasingly harder
to do. Moreover, big money has infected American politics in an excessive and
destructive way — $2.6 billion spent on this campaign, and for what? It wasn’t
for the enlightenment of the public. Maybe there is room in America for more
than a two-party system to break through the establishment gridlock. Because
even though Obama’s state-by-state electoral college victory of 303 votes
counts as a landslide over Romney, the popular vote looks to be about 50-50.
Being in Ukraine through all of this has its
advantages. While I feel left out of the celebration back home, the mood in Kyiv on Wednesday morning pulled me back to
reality. While looking at all the people I encountered in crowded mini-vans and trolleybuses,
hustling out of the metro, selling from kiosks and trudging along the streets,
I turned out to be the only one I noticed skipping along, occasionally shouting
“Obama!” and pumping my fists in the air with joy.
I guess it’s time to cut the celebration and get to
work, for me and my nation. There’s a lot to do for all of us.
chief editor Brian Bonner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.