To some, American presidential election night is like a Christmas that only comes every four years — others simply don’t care. Despite how people feel about the elections, the whole thing is thankfully over. American President Barack Obama was re-elected to a second term on Nov. 6, 2012, with the Democrats in control of the Senate and the Republicans in control of the House of Representatives, which, despite all the media hype, was expected.
American campaigns are getting longer and costing more. Almost $1 billion was spent on commercials in swing states alone. Given the current state of the American economy, this money could have been better spent elsewhere.
American elections happen every four years, and they last almost four years. Discussion of primary candidates and their campaigning starts over two years before elections, and coverage becomes nearly constant in the 11 months leading up to the election. There will barely be a break before America starts talking about who might run for the 2016 election.
An unfortunate side effect of the game show-like elections is that Canadians seem more interested in the American presidential race than our own federal election. An unfixed Canadian election date means the process only takes about six weeks to elect a new government, and the parties have to be ready to campaign on short notice once an election is called. The last Canadian federal election saw great change in the division of seats in parliament, yet Canadian politics seems boring in contrast to the American elections.
Although he would want to leave his party in good standing, a second-term Obama is now free to push for the policies he truly believes in. The Republican House will likely try to stop him at every turn, yet the Republican party has to do some hard soul-searching on their policy and position, considering the election night upset. Obama faces another looming fiscal crisis and a struggling American economy, and must deal with Iran’s nuclear program, the civil war in Syria and climate change.
Obama’s policy will have varying repercussions on Canada, and Alberta in particular. Obama said he would make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline after the election. In the mean time, the Canadian government is pushing for the Northern Gateway pipeline as a sort of bluff to show Americans that we don’t actually need them as a trading partner. To prove this, Harper is working towards signing trade deals with China. Obama, also promotes buying products made in America, which hurts Ontario manufacturing.
Other changes that could influence Canada are the legalization of recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington. The Liberal Party of Canada has included it on their platform, and these states will serve as a test for how the policy would work. If the Liberals can actually get their act together, this could be a key issue next Canadian election.
The election was historic and progressive in many ways. Wisconsin elected America’s first openly lesbian senator, Democrat Tammy Baldwin.
Maine and Maryland approved same-sex marriage by popular vote, becoming the 7th and 8th states to legalize gay marriage, despite propositions to legalize gay marriage being repeatedly voted down since 1997.
Tea-Party backed Richard Mourdock lost his Senate seat. Mourdock became infamous by saying it is God’s will if women become pregnant from rape. Todd Akin also lost his Senate seat, primarily over the comment that women’s bodies have a way of shutting down pregnancy in “legitimate rape.” Clearly, voters were turned-off by these comments and it showed the Republican party that they can’t alienate women and moderates if they hope to regain the Senate.
Women also made gains in senate races, clinching 20 out of 100 seats. Democrat Mazie Hirono became the first Asian-American woman to be elected to the Senate from Hawaii.
Overall, the Gauntlet is pleased with Obama’s re-election. Although some of Obama’s policies could have negative ramifications for Canada, a Romney win would have spelled disaster. Mostly, we’re just happy the charade is over.