President Barack Obama’s re-election on Tuesday night was as much about him as it was a thorough repudiation of a narrowly inclusive Republican Party.
Americans made their voices heard across the nation, emphatically saying they preferred a president they believed who looked out for their interests over a callous GOP that has cared less about alienating a number of growing key minority constituencies, most notably Latinos, women and young people.
Obama’s stunning projected total of at least 303 electoral votes showed that these three groups especially played pivotal roles in delivering swing states such as Nevada, Colorado, Virginia, Pennsylvania and possibly Florida, whose 29 electoral votes are still up for grabs as the tight race in that state is still to be finalized.
In his victory speech to supporters in Chicago late last night, the president continued to emphasize the importance of fighting for equal opportunity for all Americans, not just the privileged few while warning that change will come slowly.
“Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America, the best is yet to come,” Obama said to prolonged cheers.
Obama’s second term comes despite the albatross he endured during the campaign of a still-weak economy that has improved, but nowhere near quick enough for the millions of Americans still struggling to find work or stay in their homes.
But the American people believed the president when he said the country was on the right track in climbing out of the worst economic mess since the Great Depression, and the steadily improving job numbers backed up his claim.
But deeper than that, the nation believed that Obama had their back, that he was the leader America needed during these tough economic times to keep their interests in mind.
The Obama campaign was successful early on in painting GOP challenger Mitt Romney as out-of-touch aristocrat who cared nothing about their plight. Romney’s own record such as his well-known opposition to the auto industry bailout, as well as his many gaffes such as his infamous “47 percent” comments, only further reinforced the cold, heartless perception of the former Massachusetts governor.
But the choice of Obama’s kinder, gentler approach was an easy one given the extreme nature of the Republican Party, especially on such things as immigration, gay marriage and politically inexplicable decision for GOP Senate candidates to weigh in on abortion.
A bruising GOP primary fueled by Tea Party rage and unwillingness to yield an inch in compromise on anything led Romney to the hard right at the expense of the Latino vote. His assertions at the time that he was “severely conservative”, his decision to blast the Dream Act and his equally-as-shortsighted choice to criticize Texas for offering financial aid to college students whose parents came to the U.S. illegally served him well in the primary, but his ultimately proved his undoing in the general election.
Independent voters tired of extremism, unyielding partisanship, fear-mongering and the war on intellectualism looked for better alternatives.
And that was the president.
Obama had missed out on a prime opportunity to slam the door shut on Romney when he failed to really show up at the first presidential debate in Denver on Oct. 3, allowing the GOP challenger to regain some wind in his sails and make things competitive.
The president soon found his voice again in effectively labeling Romney as a dishonest flip-flopper who would say or do anything to be elected.
Not that it took all that much.
Hurricane Sandy offered further proof of the stark differences between Obama and the hard right, with the president showed himself to be a concerned American first when he visited and consoled the millions of his needy countrymen in the northeast corridor whose lives were turned upside down by last week’s monster storm. Americans on both sides of the political aisle noted how smoothly Obama worked with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican who had previously been one of his staunchest critics, for the better collective good of Americans of every political persuasion.
Conversely, right-wing blowhards like Rush Limbaugh quickly put politics first even in the face of disaster, bashing Christie for having the temerity to praise the president for the government’s quick relief efforts.
The majority of Americans saw the differences between the two parties and chose for Obama’s kinder, gentler approach that sought to include more people rather than tell them they weren’t welcome.
More fellow Americans.