Six billion dollars spent. More than 115 million votes cast. Endless hours of televised political talk — and it all led to the re-election of a divided, polarized government.
On Wednesday, a day after President Barack Obama was re-elected, The Post and Courier’s Facebook page asked:What now? Do you think the election results will ease the gridlock in Washington? If so (or if not), do you think that’s a good or bad thing?Here are some of the responses:“Nope, it will only get worse, until the two-party system allows others to participate.”Dustin Ryan“Typically, in a second term the incumbent can enjoy more bipartisanship from Congress because they’re no longer voting to get him out of office. With the current roster of GOP house members though, I don’t know if that’ll be the case. The GOP did lose some tea party seats yesterday though, so maybe they’ll extend across the aisle to save their own jobs. It’d be a nice idea, anyway.”Jeffery Scott Miller“(There are) going to be more job losses and more foreclosures, and taxes are going to skyrocket causing small businesses to lay off or shut down. My health insurance rates have doubled the past two years, and when Obamacare goes into effect rates are going to go even higher. Some large companies are talking about dropping their traditional partial responsibility of paying for health insurance for employees because its a savings for them ... better pray!”Missy Martin Wild“Elections truly have serious consequences ... We must stick together, work and pray harder and lean on the gift of hope!”Michael Coleman“I can only hope that the president can really get some work done during this term. ... The American people cannot and should not have to endure another four-year term similar to that of the previous four years. It is truly time for the president to put the money where his mouth is and get things done. He says that the best is yet to come. I say prove it.”Joseph Bagwell“Pray hard for the next four years.”Tonya Hamel
Lowcountry voters joined others across the country Wednesday taking stock of President Barack Obama’s re-election, along with the Democrats’ continued hold on the U.S. Senate and Republicans’ grip on the U.S. House of Representatives. It marked the end of a tough campaign that widened the already deep divide within the country.
And they wondered: What now?
Hudson Townes, a College of Charleston student from Greenville, brought up the nation’s deep schisms in her political science class Wednesday.
“Do you think polarization is ideological or do members have personal animosity toward each other?” she asked.
Her guest instructor, Robert Dove, a former Citadel professor who later served as the U.S. Senate’s parliamentarian from 1995-2001, told her the problem isn’t that congressmen and senators disagree ideologically.
Instead, it’s that they are too busy raising money for their next re-election campaign to forge working bonds.
“They no longer have time in the evening to spend with each other,” he said. “They don’t become the kinds of friends I remember when I first came to the Senate.” in the 1970s as a staff member for Bob Dole.
South Carolina GOP Chairman Chad Connelly saw it differently, laying the blame on Obama for the country’s divide.
“I think most of us watching this thing see that he’s really been a divisive president,” he said, calling Obama’s health care reform package something that was run “down our throats.”
“It’s disappointing that some, any, Americans would vote to pass European socialism,” he said.
The first test of whether Tuesday’s election will ease Washington’s divisions is expected to come soon, as Congress and Obama deal with the so-called fiscal cliff — trillions of dollars in income tax increases and spending cuts that will take effect Jan. 1 unless a new deal is struck.
There’s also the growing tension with Iran.
Charleston County Democratic Chairman Richard Hricik pointed the blame for gridlock in a different place, namely the scores of Republican congressmen who have taken a no-tax-increase pledge.
“What has to fundamentally change in the Republican Party is that their allegiance is not owed to Grover Norquist (leader of Americans for Tax Reform) in terms of a pledge of no tax increases but to what is in the best interest of the American people.”
His counterpart, Charleston County GOP Chairwoman Lin Bennett, said she had no idea what the electorate expects.
“It’s a confusing message,” she said of Tuesday’s results. “If we don’t understand it, then how are politicians supposed to understand it?”
While she said action is needed on the federal debt, the federal budget and entitlement reform, she added, “Whether we do it or not, either way, it’s going to be painful for the country.”
Now that the voters have spoken, it ultimately will be up to Obama and congressional leaders to take it from here.
“We are right where we were before the election,” Dove said. “There is every reason to think of this as basically a continuation of what has happened in the past in terms of dealing with the problems. And this nation has problems. This nation has huge problems.”
Robert Treninnick, a College of Charleston student from Greenwich, Conn., said he wanted Romney to win and address the nation’s sagging economy. But Treninnick said he also would not mind seeing more gridlock.
“Although I’m a Republican,” he said, “I like to see the House and Senate in different hands.”
Schuyler Kropf contributed to this report.