What Now? Reflections on Obama’s Victory

Sean Para, Columnist

In case you haven’t heard, Barack Obama was reelected President of the United States on November 6. Along with slight gains in the House of Representatives and Senate, this represents a significant achievement for the President and the Democratic Party, and an opportunity to finally push past partisanship and confront the major issues our nation faces. The question now is, what are these issues, and how should they be dealt with? The most pressing short-term issue is the debt crisis. Unless a solution is found before the end of 2012, automatic tax increases and spending cuts to lower the deficit will go into effect and could arrest the economic recovery. It is imperative that this does not come to pass. Congressional leaders from both parties are working hard to prevent this from happening, but no matter what, compromise will be necessary on both sides. After the last financial standoff resulted in America’s debt-rating being downgraded and a general fall in international confidence in our economy, we cannot let a similar event occur due to petty partisanship that overlooks the interests of the people. The economy must be allowed to continue its recovery, and this will be impossible without a positive solution to the debt crisis. The most important long-term problem our country faces is climate change. Hurricane Sandy served only as a reminder of the drastic changes affecting our planet’s climate. Climate change is caused by humans and can only be stopped by us. The president must make sustainable energy and environmentalism the main goal of his second term. Not nearly enough was done to prevent greenhouse gas emissions in Obama’s first term despite the important steps taken, and more must be done in his next four years in office. The possible consequences of climate change can only become more serious as time wears on, and unless major steps are taken to combat it, our generation and our children’s generation will suffer long and hard for our current indolence on the issue. The war in Afghanistan must be wound down. America has been fighting in Afghanistan since October 2001, yet has achieved little. It is a lost cause to try and create a viable Afghan state, and our own nation has spent too much blood and treasure attempting to do so already. Troops must be slowly pulled out of the region while enough are maintained to combat Al Qaeda and protect American interests. The massive resources devoted to the war must be used to restore our own country. Obama must seek to protect the landmark legislation passed during his first term. The health care and financial reform bills have been reaffirmed by his reelection, but they still face strong opposition. “Obamacare,” as it is often called, must be instituted in every state by Jan. 1, 2014. As states rush to meet this deadline, the federal government must do all in its power to assure that they succeed. Barack Obama’s first term was a watershed moment in American history. Major reforms were passed and the nation set upon a new direction. The goals that were not fulfilled in Obama’s first term must be met in his second, and his achievements must be protected and built upon. Let us hope that his second term will see an end to bitter partisanship and a return to prosperity.