Editor’s note: Karen Johnson is a high school government and economics teacher. She is a Democrat voter from Atlanta, Georgia, and voted for President Obama. To hear from a Republican voter, click here.
I woke up this morning feeling energized. Barack Obama has won a second term! This reality gives me high expectations for the future of our great country.
While I am hopeful for the next four years, I have no doubt that many of my Republican counterparts are disappointed and dejected. I can empathize, as I felt the same way when George W. Bush won a second term. I argue that this is merely a grand opportunity for the GOP to self-reflect and adjust as the Democrats did in 2004.
The United States is an ever-changing landscape of race, ethnicity and social status. In this election, Republicans lost the votes of several key groups. Minorities (primarily Latinos), women, and young voters did not accept Mitt Romney’s message of economic gloom and doom. They also did not connect with the Republican Party regarding its stance on many important social issues.
While Republicans touted the economy as the primary reason to vote, the majority of this country clearly disagreed. That being said, in order for the Republican Party to carry on its message of fiscal responsibility and economic growth, it must modernize its message to secure voters in the future.
The Republican platform is dominated by an uber-conservative base that does not resonate with the majority of voters in this country. It is a relatively small but powerful sect, much like the influential characters that spout liberal rhetoric within the Democratic Party. Abortion, religion, gay rights, health care and immigration are all areas in which Republicans must reflect, adjust and implement a new strategy to secure votes in the future. It can no longer be viewed as a party dominated by rich, white men.
Republicans appear out of touch and indifferent to the needs of the middle class and the poor. Voters are changing rapidly. Our country is changing dramatically. The Republican platform must change with these factors in mind. By recognizing the need for a more moderate and balanced approach, Republicans can certainly rebound in four years. If the party chooses to focus on another Mitt Romney or George W. Bush, I fear it may not survive intact.
Democrats absolutely need work as well. They can certainly compromise on issues like spending and entitlement programs. This is a statement of fact. President Obama has said he will reach across the aisle. I hope this is not simply rhetoric to make Republicans feel better about their loss.
I believe that Obama must work with the other party in order to come to a consensus regarding key issues such as spending, taxes, health care, immigration and the very basic rights of citizens who feel disenfranchised or devalued. I have no doubt that the next four years will be difficult, but Obama has proven he is up to the task. The key is working together. Partisan posturing will get us nowhere.
And, to those who have declared they will leave our country for another, good luck finding another developed nation that doesn’t offer universal health care or participate in “Socialist” government policy. Australia is a wonderful place to live and it offers health care. So does New Zealand. Europe? Don’t bother going to that continent. I know Republicans aren’t going to Canada. Just go to the Caribbean. You might be safe there.
It is certainly true that the country is divided. The polls told us that last night. This cannot continue. The economic and social health of the United States depends on it.