President Obama was re-elected by a large majority of the electoral vote and won the popular vote. Will we see a different Obama in his second term? One who stands up and fights for his beliefs and programs?
The first test will come quickly in the lame duck session of Congress. Unless agreement can be reached on taxes and spending, the so called "fiscal cliff" or sequestration approaches on December 31.
Most economists say it is unwise to increase taxes and cut spending in the middle of our modest economic recovery. To avert that, some action is needed. There must be some compromise by both parties.
President Obama has indicated he is prepared to do so, but we do not know how far he is prepared to yield on spending cuts. He was willing last year to give a lot - even more than the Bowles-Simpson plan suggested. He now should have become weary and wary of Republican willingness to give.
He should realize he won the argument with the American people in the election. They agree that the super-wealthy should bear a greater share of sacrifice. They also want continued Social Security and Medicare plans.
Does the election change the Republican view? Several leaders already are realizing and saying that their present reliance on older white males is an unsustainable basis for a majority party. They recognize the need to appeal to Hispanics, other minorities and young people.
However, many blame defeat last week on a poor candidate choice, missteps in communication and a superior political operation by Obama supporters. They cling to their ultra-right wing views. They feel strongly about abortion, immigration and same-sex marriage as moral matters - not political positions. Their views are not popular among younger voters and the growing minority population in this country.
If the tea party element of the Republican Party stands firm against any tax increases and other similar positions, a confrontation is inevitable.
How will Obama face up in that confrontation? He should recognize that while the country may be divided, something has to be done, and he is in a strong negotiating position. He has the ability to stand up and be a strong president and insist on what he and the American people want.
If he does not, his second term will be a troubled and unsuccessful one, and the expression of the will of the American voter ignored.
John F. Kimberling is the author of "What This Country Needs: A New Political Party". (Revised Edition Election 2012, www.whatthiscountryneeds.net). Kimberling is widely known as a leading U.S. litigation specialist, a charter member of the ABA section on litigation, a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a veteran of two wars, and at various times served in leadership positions in both the Democratic and Republican parties. He was once hailed by The American Lawyer as the "one of the top trial lawyers in the country" and led a panel as moderator on a C-SPAN discussion titled "Is It Time for a New Political Party?"
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