Post Election Thoughts

The election is (more or less) over. Obama’s got another four years, Democrats are still hanging on to the Senate but the House remains pretty much as it was.

That Mitt Romney was not elected is cause to celebrate (for me). The man had no plan, was clearly an opportunistic liar and vastly overestimated his own worth. My favorite moment of the 2012 campaign was when he claimed that the markets would magically improve simply on the news on the ascendancy to the throne, despite having no clear plan of action on what to do once he got there. Presumably, Donald Trump was the source of all of this magical power.

The Affordable Care Act has a chance to become reality. Many of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act were not set to kick in until 2014. This may have been a concession to Republican who (falsely) assumed that Obama would be a one term President and that they would take the Senate somewhere along the way. Assuming the States get their act together, insurance exchanges will come online, Medicaid reform will ever so slightly happen and the goal of universal health coverage will be a closer reality.

The current gains in market stability will continue. While investments are still very conservative at this point (not much movement from bonds back to equities), this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After suffering the worst crash since the Depression, we would expect that markets would be cautious. Building a solid economic base is a better plan than dumping money into a bucket of risky investments again, particularly when Americans themselves are still proceeding with fairly tight belts.

Regardless, the arguments that imply that the economy is poor are just dead wrong. GDP is back to where it was before the crash, unemployment is down, manufacturing is creeping up and consumer confidence improving. These doom and gloom statements from the Republicans were just flat wrong.

We get the first Asian American Senator, Mazie Hirono, Elizabeth Warren gets a Senate seat (yes!), and we get the first openly gay Senator, Tammy Baldwin. I almost cried when I heard her acceptance speech. The Senate is (very) slowly starting to actually represent America.

Better yet, new Supreme Court Appointees won’t be the conservative, anti-abortion, anti-health care, anti-gay ideologues that the far right hoped for.

In my region, liberal and Democratic candidates had gains and losses. My District got the wonderful Gretchen Driskell as State Rep, Carol Kuhnke as circuit court judge, but we lost on District 11’s bid from Syed Taj. Of the 6 ballot proposals, we lost the collective bargaining amendment to the Constitution and the renewal energy bid, but thankfully also lost the stupid Matty Maroun sponsored proposal to keep a private monopoly on an international crossing.

Most important, despite silly calls for “bipartisanship” during last night’s round of concessions, the Republican Party lost by losing the support of the very people they marginalize. Women and minorities went for Democratic candidates, giving Obama a much wider edge than that of Bush in 2004. If anything, the Republican Party should learn from this.

To survive, they have to accept wider realities that the United States can’t go back to the lazy days of the 19th century. America has to look forward to finding ways to creating a more equitable society. Paul Ryan suggested that this election would be a turning point for America. I certainly hope that he’s right.

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About Peter Larson

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology at the Nagasaki University Institute for Tropical Medicine

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  1. Election Night 2012… results, interpretation, and celebration - November 7, 2012

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