Return to story
TURNING OUT en masse, the American people, through their constitutional electors, rendered a close but clear verdict on the presidency of Barack Obama yesterday. The verdict was: approval. Despite the palsied economy and the massive national debt, Americans entrusted the country's future to Mr. Obama, who has made some progress, and will, every good citizen must hope, make more during his second term.
The Republican team of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ran a good race and perhaps--it's too early to tell--captured the popular vote. (If so, expect another furious debate about the relevance of the Electoral College.) Mr. Romney supplied some high drama by reviving his laggard campaign with a solid victory over Mr. Obama in their first debate. Lady Luck, in the guise of a storm named Sandy, gave the president a providential boost. Whether he would have won anyway will be debated around cracker barrels for years.
Virginia was a state that mattered. A traditionally GOP bastion in presidential elections, it went for Mr. Obama in 2008. Thus it was one of nine key "battleground" states that either side, if it played its card just right, plausibly might have won. At press time, with over 90 percent of the vote in, Mr. Obama held a 1-point lead, reversing the double-digit advantage of Mr. Romney earlier in the evening. The parties and their allies spent almost $1 billion in the general-election advertising "air war," and few Virginians today feel deprived of their share of its product. The end of all that is a bipartisan blessing. It may even be listed as such around stuffed turkeys later this month.
The race in Virginia between former governors Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R) was hard fought, with Mr. Kaine holding a commanding lead at bedtime. Ironically, he had to be pulled into the race by his party, while Mr. Allen, who lost his Senate seat in an upset in 2006, has since pursued it the way Captain Ahab chased Moby Dick--with no happier results.
Among local members of Congress, 1st District Rep. Rob Wittman (R) and 7th District Rep. and GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor rolled over their opponents. It takes nothing away from the talents of these gentlemen to say they got a king-sized boost from gerrymandering--the antidemocratic carving of voting districts to favor parties or incumbents. The redistricting scandal, not the Electoral College, should be Target No. 1 for the nation's earnest political reformers.
Overall, too, it appears that Democrats will keep the Senate and Republicans the House. So after all the Sturm und Drang of Election 2012, after all the millions spent, the passions unleashed, the arguments advanced, the punditry perpetrated, the brain power and grunt work on behalf of one party or the other, we have--the status quo.
Now let the winners, after enjoying the huzzahs and the bubbly, get to the work of governing. Both statist ideology and the teachings of Grover Norquist need to be dumped in the deepest channel of the Potomac. There is debt to diminish, entitlements to reform, devastated countrymen to help return to solid employment, a staggered middle class to revive.
And there is a riven nation to heal. Few elections have so evenly split Americans; who can remember razor-thin decisions in so many states? Those whose candidates won feel the natural rush of the conqueror. Those on the losing end feel as though they have truly lost. Political life in America must not continue to be a zero-sum game. If our leaders are worthy of that title, they will demonstrate a different way.
In which case, Godspeed to them.
Question 1, protecting property rights, passed with flying colors. Good going, Virginians, blue and red.