President Barack Obama won a decisive victory Tuesday night to serve a second term as President of the United States. This week, The Michigan Daily endorsed the President with hesitation that was common nationwide, citing his success in foreign policy and pushing a progressive agenda in the face of an unreasonable Congress. Obama has earned a second term — but winning elections is only a small part of politics. Obama must take advantage of the next four years. The president needs to take a stronger stand in the face of Congress and continue to push more innovative policies.
By and large, Obama was the stronger candidate. The country is incredibly divided on party lines. Because of this division, the president was unable to enact the sweeping changes he promised. The president did not win over conservative voters in the election by being more moderate, and the same rules apply in Congress. In his victory speech on Tuesday night, Obama touched on progressive ideas he hasn’t mentioned as much in his campaign such as climate change, immigration and sexual equality. This is the second time Obama has promised to bring real change to Washington — hopefully, this time he delivers.
In order for the president to make a real difference as a policymaker, he must improve negotiations and stand up to opposition from congressional Republicans. This is not to suggest he goes the route of political brinkmanship, but Obama has too often come to the bargaining table too close to the middle and folded too quickly.
Now that Obama has secured a second term in the White House, he must push for broader intervention in key issues. The economy should be his primary concern. In 2009, the Obama administration backed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a $787-billion stimulus package that created between 1.4 million and 3.3 million jobs. Obama and Congress should allow the Bush Tax Cuts to expire, and propose legislation to lower the middle-class tax rate. While these are positive interventions, the Obama administration needs to take a stronger step in reinvigorating the economy. The president should advocate a second stimulus package during his next four years in office.
In his first term, Obama took steps to improve education and broaden opportunities for students. However, many of his attempts to expand access to education fell short of his progressive promises. During his first term, the Obama administration increased funding to the Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to students from low-income families. However, the expansion of these grants came at the expense of lowering subsidies for the Stafford Loan program for graduate students.
In June 2012, Obama issued an executive order to forbid the federal government from initiating the deportation of illegal immigrants who met specific requirements. While undocumented students benefit under this order, they have to apply again for U.S. residency every two years.
Obama has the latitude as a second-term president to make the next four years more fruitful than his first. Much of his success will be dependent on his interactions with Congress, which has been largely deadlocked for the past four years. Obama should expect plenty of difficulty — and we need to support his agenda by staying involved in politics post-Election Day.