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Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria

Mr. President, It’s Time
to Be Unpopular

By Gudrun Doringer

Translated By Sidonie Straughn-Morse

7 November 2012

Edited by Jonathan Douglas

Austria - Salzburger Nachrichten - Original Article (German)

Barack Obama got his second chance. It was, admittedly, not as exhilarating as the first time, but it was harder fought. By law, Obama can’t win a third term. That opens up new possibilities for his second term: Congeniality and kid gloves are no longer necessary.

In his second term, Obama can wrangle with the uncomfortable issues — the issues that so desperately need to be addressed — without having to keep an eye on the next election cycle. There’s no time to lose. The danger is high that American society has devolved into the few haves and the many have-nots. The president’s room to maneuver is restricted. The American political system gives the Republicans lots of opportunities to counter-act. With triumphant posturing, which is perhaps not entirely called for, given the razor-thin margin of victory for the Democrats, those critical Republican votes in Congress won’t be easy to pick up. The persistent search for compromise will continue. With healthcare reform, Obama took the first step, and showed that it can work.

Here’s what might help the president: The Republican hard line that, for the past few years, has opposed Obama on principle is crumbling. Too many Republicans already regret the hard-liners in their ranks, who seem to be against just about every minority, no matter how large — even those large enough to make a difference at the polls. Take the conservative opposition to gay rights, for example, or to immigrants, since Romney railed against “the parasites” at a covertly recorded speech. Or even against women. Romney’s approach to pay equity stipulates that women have time at home to prepare dinner for their families. Romney scared away many strata of the population. But winning the white majority in the country is no longer sufficient. That much is clear to even the tea party die-hards.

“It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you live. It doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight. You can make it here in America if you’re willing to try,” newly-reelected President Obama stated on Tuesday. “Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.” The bolder voice won. Now it must prevail. Time to make yourself unpopular, Mr. President. Good luck.



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