Final thoughts on the 2012 elections

Thursday November 8, 2012

In the days, months and years following an election, voters sometimes question if they made the right choices. If the candidate(s) really has the peoples’ best interest at heart.

Will it be more broken promises and business as usual, or is this really a time of change?

There will plenty of time for soul-searching and second-guessing down the road. Today, as most folks are probably pretty much burnt out on the elections, we wanted to take a few moments to look back at some comments from candidates that caught our attention over the past 24 (or so) hours.

Newly elected Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren accepted the seat on Tuesday night, proclaiming: "For every family who has been chipped and squeezed and hammered, we’re going to fight for a level playing field. ... To all the small business owners who are tired of a system rigged against them, we’re going to hold the big guys accountable."

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., echoed those sentiments on Wednesday, when he said that he hoped, through this most recent election, that Republicans heard the message that Americans aren’t interested in a government pushing extremist policies.

"(The American people) want a government that addresses the needs of working families, the elderly, the children and the sick, and not just the wealthiest people in this country," Sanders said. But with Republicans still holding a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, will we truly see change, or more gridlock?

"The American people want solutions," Speaker of the House John Boehner said following Tuesday night’s election. "Americans want better solutions that will ease the burdens of small businesses, bring jobs home and let our economy grow. We stand willing to work with any willing partner ... who shares a commitment to getting those things done."

Let’s hope this talk of "shared commitment" is more than just lip service.

We were both surprised and heartened to hear, in his concession speech, Mitt Romney declare that the "nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work. ... (We) look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics."

Will his party share that sentiment, or just look toward a new candidate for 2016?

Closer to home, Gov. Peter Shumlin on Wednesday also talked about blurring party lines for the sake of development.

"I don’t care what party you are," Shumlin said during a tour of a South Burlington business. "I don’t care who you voted for. I don’t care what your politics are. I care that you are a Vermonter. As your governor for the next two years, I will recommit myself to working every single day to ensuring that we are growing jobs, raising incomes, and that we are making the tough choices, getting the tough things done to ensure that my daughters, your sons and daughters, and your brothers and sisters and uncles and cousins have a bright future making a great living in the best state in the land."

And, in closing, we offer just a few tidbits from the president’s excellent acceptance speech:

On the democratic process: "Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today."

On our country’s future: "We want our children to live in an America that isn’t burdened by debt, that isn’t weakened by inequality, that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet. We want to pass on a country that’s safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this -- this world has ever known. But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being."

On what makes our country great: "What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth. The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism."

On standing united, rather than falling divided: "I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We’re not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America."

That’s some hope we can still get behind.


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