Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Won, But Romney Had a Point

While I'm happy that the better candidate won last night's closely fought race, both in the popular vote (Obama now has more than 50%), and the obvious electoral college vote (currently 303 to 206, but a likely Obama win in currently undeclared Florida will put it at 332 to 206), there are some serious questions Americans still need to address - such as whether their healthcare and social services model is truly that sustainable in the long-term; whether the federal and state governments can continue to move forward with the heavy debt loads they've incurred; and whether or not the current path for the country is still the right won.

That's right - Mitt Romney and the GOP's talking points were not exactly wrong. The United States is still in dire trouble, with gridlock in its governing institutions holding back any hope for progress on the serious issues of the day. Americans voted for what was essentially the status-quo, though I don't think they collectively wanted to; they were promised progress by Obama and believed him. Whether that belief was misplaced, I don't know.

The Senate remains in Democrat hands, the House in Republican's. There are now more GOP governors, and most of them are fairly hostile towards the administration. Obama won a re-election fairly similar to Bush's 2004 victory, except in the electoral college; but the divisiveness, and the problems remain. I don't know how the US will get past all of it, even if I do believe Obama could be the one to do it. After all, Bill Clinton had the same sort of comeback and the country was better off. The question is whether or on Obama is up to par. Let's hope.

But aside from the doom and gloom, some important steps were taken last night in several US states. We all heard about the passed gay marriage amendments in Maryland, Washington, Maine, and Minnesotans rejecting an amendment that would've defined marriage between a man and a woman. Very good signs, if still all in very blue states - when we start getting wins in Arizona and Texas, that'll be the day we know progress has won. We also know that Colorado and Washington have legalized - yes, legalized - marijuana in their states.

But did you know that Proposition 30 passed in California? Prop 30 was a tax-rise measure proposed and pushed for by California's Governor Jerry Brown, which will raise taxes on the very wealthiest of Californians (read: tech giants and Hollywood stars), as well as raising the state's sales tax by a quarter of a cent, about $6-billion in new funding for education in the nation's largest state.

This is significant because Californians are notorious for their tax-cutting ways, thanks to a stupid referendum system whereby any tax measures must be adopted by popular vote. I think this is the first time in a long time that voters approved a tax rise. It speaks volumes about a possible shift in consciousness in the state; the realisation that they couldn't continue with a direction that left the state bereft of funds needed to provide services to its citizens.

Or, maybe Democrats just really outnumbered Republicans this year. Either way, maybe things will change this time, for the better. If not, then in 2016 I wouldn't be surprised, nor would I be necessarily opposed to, a Republican resurgence.

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