The Disunited States of America: why Obama's pitiful mandate is bad news for the American people

An extremely negative campaign has entrenched divisions and animosity. The President's chances of achieving desperately needed bipartisan reform are remote

Share

Four years ago Barack Obama promised to be a leader for all Americans. I remember listening to him in Chicago's Grant Park as he talked about a country full not of blue states or red states but the united states of America.

What a load of baloney.

Though re-elected as widely predicted last night, the real lesson for Obama is that he has utterly failed to fulfil the promise of his neophyte campaign in 2008. The great 50-50 nation remains terribly divided, and the President's ultra-negative campaign this time round was an attempt to exploit those divisions rather than heal them. He won by championing the very thing that he promised to end.

As the evening progressed, it became clear that the states Romney had to win to pull off a surprise triumph simply weren't breaking for him. Pennsylvania, then Michigan, then Wisconsin all went to Obama. These were states where Republicans always had only an outside chance of victory - but without Ohio, they desperately needed one.

When Ohio eventually went to the President, as recent polls suggested it was trending, the race was over for Romney. The Republican's claim late yesterday afternoon that he hadn't written a concession speech may have been true; but fairly early in the evening, he will have put pen to paper.

For him and the Republicans, the message of this campaign is extremely clear: America has an appetite for moderate conservatism, but the Republicans didn't want to provide it - and were wrong not to. Romney was an impressive candidate pulled to the right by a party gripped by theocratic dogma. His poll ratings peaked - as after the first election debate - when he played to America's moderate majority.

For the Democrats, this is a sobering result, and certainly not a vindication of Obama's Keynesian economics. He goes into his second term with a weak mandate for his social, economic and foreign policy.

For America as a whole, the negativity of this campaign, the division and animosity it has engendered, and the lack of a clear mandate for the President makes the urgently needed bipartisan co-operation of an Obama second term seem implausible. The coming fiscal cliff is just the beginning of what could be a years-long impasse.

Obama's first term was far more successful than his critics allege. But his second term will be far harder than his supporters pretend.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

In Sickness and in Health: 'I'm really happy to be alive and to see Rebecca'

Rebecca Armstrong
Supporters in favour of same-sex marriage pose for a photograph as thousands gather in Dublin Castle  

The lessons we can learn from Ireland's gay marriage referendum

Stefano Hatfield
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine