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Opinion: Liberals Should Celebrate Now, Fight Later

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It’s a good day for liberals as Barack Obama will remain America’s president for the next four years. It was a tough campaign and a close election, and Obama was probably the best choice. Mitt Romney was clearly incapable of being the commander-in-chief or projecting a competent vision of American leadership to the world. Throughout this campaign it was often in question whether or not the former Massachusetts governor had the best interests of at least 47 percent of Americans at heart. There will be much cheering and celebrating among liberals tonight, but of course, someone needs to rain on the parade.

Barack Obama was the right choice in the 2012 elections, but that does not mean that he inherently deserves the presidency. Even liberals must admit that much of the president’s success in the campaign was built upon the failings of his opponent. Indeed, America is better off for this outcome but the country deserves more than the lesser of two evils.

For one thing, Obama needs to command in domestic affairs just as he does in foreign affairs. It’s true that any president has more freedom to operate in the realm of international affairs due to a lack of congressional involvement, and with Republicans retaining control of the House of Representatives the nation can expect the same sort of obstruction in the coming years as in the last four. But as a two-term president with Democratic control of the Senate, Obama should still be able to push through at least some domestic policies.

We know Obama will seek to reform immigration and repair America’s infrastructure in his second term. These are important and attainable goals to set, ones which should have some measure of bipartisan support, so naturally we can expect the GOP to block such measures at any cost. Instead of making more enemies on Capitol Hill, the president ought to work with his Democratic Senate to negotiate real bipartisan action. It’s true that perhaps Republicans will never agree to any semblance of bipartisanship, and it’s possible Obama has simply made too many enemies in Congress in his first term. But Americans were promised cooperation in 2008 and the president has a duty to try.

When negotiation fails, however, the Obama Administration has a tendency to compromise. Cooperation is good, but when Obama compromises with the Republicans he tends to give more than he gets. The American people, like it or not, elected the commanding, liberal candidate so it stands to reason they should get a commanding, liberal president. American liberals want to see Obama’s proverbial gloves come off when it comes to combat with obstructionist Republicans. No one wants four more years of the president’s first debate performance.

Lastly, President Obama needs to get serious about the environment. With the weather becoming increasingly unpredictable, with major storms getting more violent and deadly and with record temperatures and a rise in mosquito-borne diseases, Obama’s failure to address climate change in a significant way is simply unacceptable. It was Obama who ran as the environmental candidate in 2008, and that was true in 2012 as well in that Mitt Romney made reference to climate change only to make fun of environmentalists and Obama referenced it as little as possible. Needless to say, that is not the sort of president environmentalists wanted or voted for. Thus far, Obama’s actions on the environment have either failed spectacularly and embarrassingly like Solyndra, they’ve been too subtle to be noticed or to make a difference, or they have been disturbingly far to the right. This is, after all, the same man who boasted in a national debate about how much oil drilling on public lands had increased under his leadership.

So of course, liberals deserve this night of revelry, and surely they will continue the festivities all the way through to the inauguration. But let’s not allow this victory cloud the fact that the president has failed liberals in some key areas. Liberal Americans must keep the pressure on the White House and not settle for too much compromise, too little action, or environmental policies that appear too conservative. Liberals must remember that Barack Obama is the president of everybody, and like everybody else, they need to fight to be heard.

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