Student Op-Eds

Week in Review: Opportunity

Brandon Tower ’14

As the announcement of Barack Obama’s re-election as President of the United States came, I, like many Americans, was awake and watching the news. After months of campaigning, the race had finally come to a decisive end. But for reasons unbeknownst to me, I felt uneasy. As the dust settled and my pre-election euphoria of polls, predictions, and color-coded electoral maps faded away, I felt neither the closure nor the relief that I had expected. Instead, I was left feeling only troubled and anxious.

Confused and searching for some sort of closure, I decided that staying up and hearing each candidate’s speech may remedy my predicament. Unfortunately, this was not the case. My mind remained unsure of what to think, making it difficult to sleep. The worst part about the situation was that I did not know what I wanted. Though politically I tend to lean conservative, I thought I was more or less indifferent to the outcome of the election. However, after hearing the result, I felt unsettled. On reflection, I guess part of me wanted change — whether that change came in the Oval Office or the power balance in either legislative house. Instead, all seemed to remain at the status quo. In an attempt to put my mind at ease, I decided to call a friend to see what he thought. Rather than the uncertainty I felt from the decision, my friend saw opportunity. “Our country now has an amazing opportunity to bridge the gap between party lines and to work towards real solutions,” he told me. “President Obama no longer needs to worry about re-election. He can reach across the aisle without concern for the political repercussions.”

My friend’s wisdom slowly replaced my uneasiness with hope — hope that our nation would come together, seizing the opportunity for bipartisanship. I was quickly brought back down to Earth when, only three days after the election, citizens of Texas submitted a petition to the White House, stating its wish to peacefully “withdraw from the United States of America.” As noted by ABC News, the petition for secession reached over 25,000 signatures, the amount needed to prompt a response from the administration, within three days of its submission. Texas was not the only state to start such a petition; at least 17 others have followed suit. Dana Milbank, a writer at the Washington Post, wrote an opinion piece, jokingly commenting on the financial benefits that said secession would bring our country. Although amused by his article, I was frankly embarrassed to learn that these petitions had been created and were receiving such widespread support. Ten days ago, the citizens of our country made a choice to re-elect President Obama for another four years — a choice that some, namely those contributing to the petitions, need to come to terms with. Though he may not have been your candidate, he is now once again our President.

To be honest, I, like many of those who signed the petitions, voted for Mitt Romney. Though I was undecided for most of the race, in the end I gave my support to Romney, seeing him as more qualified to handle our nation’s economic issues. However, in the aftermath of the election, I am an American first — not a conservative or a liberal, Republican or a Democrat — and I support our President. It is time for maturity rather than childish gestures of discontent. We need to come together and figure out real solutions to our country’s very real problems, none of which will be solved by secession.

Though I am hopeful for the future, I remain skeptical. At present, I need to be convinced that our nation, its citizens and its government, are mature and responsible enough to move forward successfully. I, like my friend, see an opportunity for bipartisan compromise. With the fiscal cliff approaching, our nation faces its first test in President Obama’s second term. Let us hope we do not fail.