Chalk Talk

Healer-in-chief? Divisive election emphasizes need for politicians to work together

Healer-in-chief? Divisive election emphasizes need for politicians to work together

It’s finally over. The most divisive, contentious presidential campaign in my lifetime ended with President Obama being re-elected for four more years. Not only is he commander-in-chief now he must also be healer-in-chief.

The demographics of our country are changing almost daily. Demographics played a role, but so did the values and attitudes of voters. That means business as usual on the political front just isn’t going to work moving forward. This election told us a lot about who we are as a nation and how we our politicians need to govern. It is time to move away from being strictly red and blue and move toward being unified and strictly American.

 It is time to move away from being strictly red and blue and move toward being unified and strictly American. 

The landscape of the nation is much more brown, diverse in thought and culture and there is no denying the need for more inclusion. As this election season officially comes to an end, the American people issued a clear mandate to end the partisan gridlocks in Washington. What better time to start than the day after the election?

Unfortunately there are mixed emotions about how we move ahead. Some of the Republican Party faithful are licking their wounds, pointing fingers and trying to find someone to blame for what they deem an unexpected or even unthinkable defeat. Others, like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, made their position for the next four years very clear.

"The best is yet to come"

“The voters have not endorsed the failures or excesses of the President’s first term,” McConnell said. “They have simply given him more time to finish the job they asked him to do together with a Congress that restored balance to Washington after two years of one-party control. Now it’s time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely-divided Senate…”

McConnell’s statement is a sobering dose of reality for those of us vigorously pulling for bipartisanism. Throw in the ridiculous right wing radio hosts who spew hate and vitriol on a daily basis and it's clear the far right, et al., didn’t get the message. You know who they are, so I won’t give them ink in this space.

 McConnell’s statement is a sobering dose of reality for those of us vigorously pulling for bipartisanism. 

 On the flip side as President Obama addressed the nation following his decisive victory he did it with a very different tone. He told Americans: “The best is yet to come." In his acceptance speech he exhibited humility, grace and consideration for his opponent. He called for unity and told the nation he’s optimistic about our future; that we’re not as divided as the politics suggest nor or we as cynical as the pundits believe.

While many credit Obama’s overwhelming support from Latino voters and African Americans with paving the path to a second term there is more to that story. The president assembled the most diverse coalition in history… one that mirrors America and must be dealt with moving forward.

The role of government

The president fought off bigotry and racism, one of the most well funded attacks in the history of politics, and won an endorsement for the role of government. Four years ago describe Obama’s victory as historic but this year’s election is equally as historic if not more historic.

 Obama is the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to be re-elected with more than 50% of the vote.  

MSNBC contributor James Patterson talked about the coalition of supporters Obama assembled in an interview on MSNBC. “He got 93 percent of the African American, 71 percent of the Latino vote, 70 percent of the Asian American vote, a majority of young single women… I mean it is an extraordinary coalition,” the Lehigh University professor said. “Look at the movement that we made along the lines of progressive politics.”

The president laid out the movement in plain and simple terms. He said we are greater than our individual ambitions. He is the first Democratic president since Franklin Roosevelt to be re-elected with more than 50 percent of the vote. He told America he plans to reach across the aisle and even reach out to Mitt Romney.

“Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual,” the president added. “You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system. Freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We’ve got more work to do.”

That work must take place in Washington, Texas, Harris County, Houston…you get the point. We must collectively work to end the gridlock in Washington. It’s not only the right way to move forward it’s the only way to move forward.

Kim Davis is a journalist with more than two decades of experience covering sports, news and politics in television, radio and print. Kim does weekly "Chalk Talk" segments on Fox 26 Morning News in Houston. Follow her on Twitter @kimydavis.

Austin Photo Set: Karen_obama_cruz_election_nov 2012_barack obama
President Obama is the first Democrat to get over 50 percent of the vote in a presidential election since Franklin Roosevelt.