Obama's challenges just beginning

REUTERS FILE

REUTERS FILE

Simon Kent, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:25 AM ET

TORONTO - Yes, he did. A tired but clearly elated Barack Obama claimed electoral victory early Wednesday morning to retain the job of President of the United States.

He spoke to thousands of ecstatic supporters at his Chicago headquarters and promised to return to work as soon as possible in the service of his country.

“You reflect the spirit of this nation,” President Obama told the party faithful, to cheers that echoed across the auditorium.

“We are an American family that will rise and fall together as we are a nation.

“You, the people, we have pulled ourselves up and fought on to victory. The best is yet to come.”

President Obama then thanked his staff. He thanked his campaign workers. He thanked his family and he thanked voters for their support.

He reached out to his political opponent in a generous move of bi-partisanship, but ultimately he gloried in the warm glow of victory.

After months of at times brutal campaigning that crisscrossed America, President Obama had earned that rare reward.

It is never a simple exercise to decide just what moves voters to make one choice over another when it comes to national leadership.

Put simply U.S. presidential elections are referenda on the performance of the party holding the keys to the White House and in 2012, voters liked what they saw with the caveat “could do better.”

There are a few outstanding individual points however that indicate just why President Obama has returned.

He knew his core constituency and ensured it was looked after.

Socialist-style universal healthcare system has been promised to America, a country fiercely committed to the self-help ethic of capitalism.

Obama was able to convince those outside the system that as long as he was in the White House, their interests would be looked after.

The massive financial bailout of the motor industry using taxpayer funds also looked after another core constituency of highly unionized, blue-collar workers.

Finally there is the matter of Latinos. Barack Obama reached out to their communities and opposed a hardline on illegal immigration that typified Republican approaches.

Polls leading up to the presidential election consistently showed upwards of 70% support amongst Latino communities for the president.

Then there is the matter of hope – a word that Obama claimed as his own in two presidential election campaigns.

While unemployment remains stubbornly high at 7.9% there are seeds of growth sprouting that have convinced American voters that hope for good times ahead may not be misplaced.

The hope of a job in the land of the free is a powerful tonic and maybe, just maybe, Obama can deliver.

On the ground Obama won because he ran a better, more disciplined campaign, especially after the scare he received in the first presidential debate.

Democrats worked the battleground states in a more effective manner and got the vote out where it counted.

In reality only a handful of states were really up for grabs and both campaigns concluded an exhausting final sprint through them over the weekend and on Monday.

Obama used the advantages of incumbency to be more visible and, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, presidential.

He even managed to appear bipartisan in standing alongside Governor Christie amongst the storm wreckage, a powerful image in a land that values unity as much as anything else.

Now that Barack Obama is back he needs to heal the divisions that characterize U.S. politics and reach those who didn’t vote Democrat.

He rules for everyone not just those in his own party.

On the world stage he must oversee the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the closure of Guantanamo Bay and negotiate the steady rise of China.

At home there is a looming fiscal cliff that will need addressing.

Those $607 million of spending cuts and tax breaks take effect in January and Obama can either scale them back or work to drop them altogether.

Such are the challenges ahead for the man chosen to lead what is still the most powerful nation on earth and Canada’s nearest neighbour.


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