Election Night. A time for hope, fear, anxiety, and, when the good news happens - anticipation of a brighter future. This is not such a night.
We will find out soon enough exactly where things fall, but as of right now, with Ohio called for Obama, President Obama is set to win his second term; Romney continues leading the popular vote but is losing most of the swing states. From hope to disappointment in a few short hours.
Watching the Virginia results come down to wire, similar to other states like Florida on a knife edge, is a reminder our nation, as it was in 2000 and 2004, a sharply divided country. Obama will win a 1949-type squeaker, if the popular vote trends hold up. The Republican party will retain the House, the Democrats, running the table on a few races, is maintaining the Senate and knocked off a remaining moderate northeastern Senator, Scott Brown. This is not good news, as ideological leftists win swing states (Sherrod Brown) while conservatives in red states (Mourdock) fall short.
The sad aspect of this campaign is how large the division is between the parties, and yet how small the election was in many ways: 'war on women' disgraced political discourse with a huge strawman attack; Romney spoke of China as a threat, but not enough of how our own Government is responsible through its taxation and regulation for offshoring and outsourcing; Obama decided, 2 weeks short of the election, that, hey, he needed a 2nd term agenda.
Alas, we know what to expect: More of the same. The same political configuration that brought us gridlock and a budget 'deal' that was a 'kick the can' deluxe is up for next year. Democrats will be emboldened to counterattack and treat the House as a red-headed stepchild whose only role is to do the bidding of The President. Here's a hint to GOP Congress: You got elected too! Hold your ground!
And that of course is the irony. We have 48% of Americans on one side, 48% on the other side and a few percent in the middle. In 1992, 1996, 2000, the winner won with less than 50%. In 2008 and 1988 it was a bigger spread of 7% or so, one an affirmation of Reagan's economic policy, one a rejection of the economy under Bush in 2008.
Obama in my mind has been a failed President who manifestly deserved to be fired. I hoped and expected him to be fired. But millions of voters were convinced somehow that the weakest recovery in 60 years was 'progress', and Obama escaped eviction partly because Obama managed to blame weaknesses in our current economy - 4 years under Obama -on his predecessor. It was a mistake for Republicans do not respond to the many misdirections of Obama and deconstruct their false narrative about the economy, but the bigger concern is the future - entitlements, spending, taxes and the intrusion of Government that is hurting the economy.
What we can expect for the economy in coming years is the greatest concern. It is doubtful that Obama will properly deal with the deficit, we will have more Democrats in the Senate that will be no better than they were last term at addressing spending. The spectre of Obamacare tax hikes and the fiscal cliff of Bush tax hikes being repealed looms.
What we needed to have an effective turnaround was a stunning Romney win and enough Republicans to get in there and repeal Obamacare. Now, despite the unpopularity of Obamacare, those who passed in won the Senate and White House.
The silver lining in all of this is that with a Republican House, the era of Democrat policy-making run riot is over, and according to analysts, Republicans will be in good shape to retain the House for a while. With Bold leadership in the House, Republicans can stand firm and not cave to Democrat demands for 'go along' cave-ins, and force real compromise.
It is bad for a nation to be divided about big things. In America's "Era of Good Feelings" and in other eras of more placid political discourse, like the 1950s, it appeared that two party's shared enough common goals and ideals that disagreements were over small things. In an election that was about small things, it showed that we Americans are close to 50/50 divided about Big Things - like the size and scope of Government.