America has just been given a wonderful gift — the opportunity to move forward with a progressive agenda that meets the needs and ideals of this nation. President Obama may now continue a vision that was stalled by inherited problems and a stubborn House. His re-election is a mandate to move forward with a well-grounded optimism. The threat of being pulled backward by a failed ideology and an out-of-date conception of the role of government is now contained.
We can now look forward in both domestic and foreign affairs. The whole range of domestic needs will advance with a more positive outlook. Republicans have overworked the mantra that “government is not the solution to the problem, it is the problem.” When they get elected to a government office, they prove that they are right. But we are now witness to the effective services of FEMA in giving relief to those devastated by the raging power of nature.
Romney had barely finished stating his wish to close down FEMA — or at least to privatize it — when “Sandy” struck the East Coast. His urges to privatize Social Security, the U.S. Postal Service and other agencies are just as misguided.
Throughout Romney’s campaign, he pledged his victory would enable him to end collective bargaining for public employees (and anywhere else he could), reduce their “lavish pensions” and salaries, and remind them that they were public servants. Their resentment at this assault was set aside as these first responders braved the treacherous wind and water to get relief to any in need when “Sandy” wreaked havoc on our shoreline. They will now get relief from their Republican storm.
While the emphasis of these thoughts is about government policy and political values, it is very important to never forget the record and character Romney would have brought to the highest office. Until Election Day, new proof of his questionable financial dealings was uncovered and it is highly probable other shoes will fall. Meanwhile, Obama was involved in many tasks in a most presidential way.
Romney has consistently demonstrated that he is a mix of St. Paul and St. Vitas — almost trapped here and then trapped there — and always a step ahead of being exposed for another secret venture. The White House is not the appropriate residence for a specialist in vulture capitalism.
In foreign policy and foreign affairs, Romney was clearly ill at ease — very quick to make questionable conclusions. In a world of festering hatreds and ambiguity, we do not need a leader that shoots from the hip. Time and again, Romney gave a new twist to the dictum of Theodore Roosevelt. He declared, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” It was translated by Romney to “Shout loudly and rattle a big sword.” We are strong enough to carry our weight without having to brag and strut.
A huge gain from Romney’s loss came to women. They will now be free from the constant drive to take away a very important natural right — that of having control of the management of their own bodies.
Lawmakers and judges alike had a remarkable reverence and respect for corporations and endowed them with the high honor of “personhood.” Then they had utterly no respect for women by pledging to take it away from them.
An Obama victory has also given us the assurance that there will be no more clones of Justices Scalia and Thomas on the Supreme Court and that Roe v. Wade is secure for a while longer. We will have no more judges that stoutly condemn “judicial activism” of the left while practicing judicial activism of the right. It is highly probable that there will be a new (and more rational) study of “personhood.”
The choice between going backward and going forward has never been clearer. The forces of reaction, like Belshazzar of old, have read the writing on the wall and “have been weighed in the balance and found wanting.” We must “seize the day” and move forward.
Allan Powell is a professor emeritus of philosophy at Hagerstown Community College.