Virtually every poll taken before the election indicated that the president would win reelection. Those same polls indicated that the Democrats would add both House and Senate seats. It is therefore difficult to understand why Republicans, including apparently Mr. Romney himself, should be so stunned at the results. Nate Silver, who is being justifiably lionized for accurately predicting pretty much everything about the election, is himself admitting that he was more or less just explicating the obvious.
Done is done, and we are, as we must be, moving on. The people did not vote as much for people as they did for solutions to the critical problems we face. All agree that the chief among those is our financial condition. We need to pay our debt, balance our budget and provide employment, education and health care for our people. The first step in all of these is to come up with a plan of tax reform and budget provisions. If this is not done to the satisfaction of Congress and the President, then, on December 31, 2112, everyone’s taxes will go up and the military budget will be decimated. I would like to make two points about this.
First, I have no idea who came up with this plan, but I would like to take my hat off to her or him or them. Republican legislators spent the last two years bringing the President to the brink of one or another cliff, but they now find themselves being brought to a cliff of their own making. It is ingenious precisely because no one — not Republicans, not Democrats and certainly not the American people — can afford to have it happen or even come close to happening (new national credit rating anyone?). It seems that, in the present dispensation, politicians will not come to agreement on anything unless their feet are to the fire. Whoever put those feet there deserves a very large medal.
Second, there is another cliff that is far more significant than this one. First of all, this one is not really a cliff. It’s more like a fiscal slope. Go over a cliff and there is no return. Go past December 31 and we only start to have problems, all of which can be remedied so long as an agreement is arrived at in fairly short order.
The other cliff, the real cliff, comes on November 4, 2014. The American people proved once again that, as a group, they generally get it right. They ignored billions of special interest money and a mind-wearying mud-slinging marathon, and they voted for a common-sense, balanced approach to solving our fiscal problems. Yes it was about race, and yes it was about respect for women, and yes it was even about party loyalty. in the end, though, this was about the money. We have a money problem, the people said, and we want it fixed.
So the people have spoken, and the people are watching, and they are keeping score. Exam day is Novemer 4, 2014, mid-term election day. If this election said anything, it said that the people are watching and the people want action. If they so much as think that a politician is not locked on to solving our fiscal problems, if they think that any politician is playing games, playing politics as usual, is, for instance, making it his primary focus to put his party back in power, then they will vote those folks out wholesale. In particular, if the people hear from the Republicans that, having lost the presidential election by a substantial margin, and having lost seats in both houses of Congress, those Republicans still refuse to come to the table or accept anything other than their own proposals, then those Republicans will find themselves backbenchers at every level of government. Likewise if the Democrats spend any of their political capital on pet projects rather than the economy, they will lose every gain of 2012 and much more.
The people have spoken, and the word they uttered was “bipartisanship.” Hey guys, see you on the 4th. Yeah, that 4th.


     Staying up late and getting up early is not conducive to deep reflection, and reflecting deeply is precisely what we all need to do now that the presidential election is over.  As usual, though, I only mean to start a conversation, and so here are a few decidedly random thoughts about the election and the path ahead.

     1.  The face of America is changing.  When I was young, it was very common for white people, even in large cities, to have never met a person of another race.  Look at the faces in the crowd at the Obama rally, and you will see what America is quickly becoming.  The melting pot that we proclaimed ourselves to be when I was young had some rather severe limiits.  Finally, and thankfully, those limits are melting away.  There will always be prejudice on some level, but I see in those faces the eventual end of the prejudice of race that has scarred this country from its inception.

     2.  I hope — I have the conviction in spite of many indications to the contrary — that the most valuable outcome of this election is a return to civil bipartisanship.  Elections are so much about the past, about blame and culpability.  Yet, when you have a crisis, a real palpable crisis, staring you in the face, blame is irrelevant and the only concern is resolving the crisis.  Hurricane Sandy was a graphic, if enormously painful, illustration of the point.  In the face of that storm, there were no Republicans or Democrats, no Tea Party, no factions of any kind.  Chris Cristie, outspoken Republican governor of New Jersey, did not become a Democrat.  He became a governor dedicating every ounce of his efforts to the welfare of the people he governs.  One thing is sure — we do face a crisis.  Our debt is enormous, and a far too large segment of our population is unemployed.  There is absolutely no value to asking who created that problem.  There is also absolutely no value to playing power games.  The wall between the parties must come down, and the politicians and people must make the sacrifices and compromises necessary to get us back on the right track.

     3.  Somehow, in some way I cannot yet express, there is a sea change going on in America.  Maybe it is the passing of the dominance of the white male.  Maybe it is the growth of tolerance.  Maybe it is the emergence of the positive side of technology.  Whatever it is, last night I felt my country undergo a techtonic shift.  Change never comes quickly, but there is always a moment when you sense that the massive, lumbering culture of which you are a tiny part is beginning a significant turn.  This one is neither to the right or to the left in the tradictional sense.  Maybe it is toward the young.  Maybe it is toward greater personal responsibility.  I don’t know.  I just have a sense that we are moving in a different direction, and I have an inexplicable sense that the new direction is good.

     So, it is over.  No more calls, no more ads, no more begging.  Where now?  Let’s talk about that.