Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 | 2 a.m.
The nation’s drastic political divide, which has widened over the past two years, has fractured civil discourse and, more importantly, any real progress toward addressing serious problems facing the country.
This campaign exacerbated the situation. From the top of the ballot down, serious discussion and debate about the issues was largely missing, replaced by a flood of negative ads and nasty campaign tactics. The entry of third-party groups with millions of dollars to spend added to the frenzy, and in the process, the truth took a beating and facts became malleable. Voters, including us, are tired of it all.
To use the tired campaign cliche: America deserves better than this.
There’s a chance for elected officials to deliver better now that Election Day has come and gone. There’s a big job ahead for those elected. The nation, particularly Nevada, needs help, and the way the campaigns were run can’t be the way our officials govern. The nation has seen the effect of that in the way Congress has operated, particularly in the past two years.
Republicans misread the 2010 election when they won control of the House, thinking it was a mandate for their ideas. Instead, it was a mandate for change; Americans wanted to see the economy recover more quickly. What the Republicans brought was more gridlock. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives has acted as if it was in a parliamentary, winner-take-all form of government. And Republicans in the Senate have put politics over doing the business of government.
To use another campaign cliche: We can’t afford four more years of that.
For the nation to handle the so-called fiscal cliff, the debt and the problems with Social Security and Medicare, it will take a real bipartisan effort. The question is whether the newly elected leaders are up to the task.
Four years ago, we held out some hope that might happen. President Barack Obama came ready and offered an extended hand to the Republicans. However, he was harshly rebuffed and attacked. There has been a chorus in the Tea Party-fueled conservative movement that Obama’s policies have been “too extreme,” and thus they can’t compromise. Some people have been brazen enough to label Obama and his policies socialist, communist and even Marxist.
Seriously? Have we lost perspective? Protecting Social Security and Medicare are on the same level of the policies of the old Soviet Union?
That’s ridiculous, and that type of rhetoric needs to stop if America is to move ahead. The nation needs to have a rational discussion about the issues, and it needs to focus on the middle class, the backbone of America.
Voters understand that. Despite all the outrage from the far right about the auto bailout, which became a campaign issue, CNN exit polling showed that nearly 6 out of 10 voters in battleground state Ohio were in favor of it. It’s understandable why: Ohioans didn’t see it as socialism or some sort of extreme policy; it was good for the middle class and those dependent on the auto industry in Ohio.
It won’t be easy to push off the nastiness of the election, but elected officials need to consider what’s good for all of their constituents and not hew to a narrow ideology. We hope the newly elected are up to the task. The state and country need it.