President Barack Obama speaks, as a tear streams down his face, at his final campaign stop on the evening before the 2012 presidential election, Monday, November 5, 2012, in Des Moines, Iowa.

Elections 2012: Four More for President Barack Obama

Mark Trahant
11/7/12

President Barack Obama has won another four years in the White House.

Obama tweeted: “This happened because of you. Thank you. We're all in this together. That's how we campaigned, and that's who we are. Thank you.”

In Chicago the crowd was waving flags, cheering, and celebrating.

The President said the people once again “lifted the spirit” of the “American family.”

“You, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, our journey has been long ... but the best of America is yet to come.”

He reached out to Mitt Romney supporters, saying they, too, had helped make a difference.

“We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country,” Obama said. The Romney’s legacy of public service is something we applaud. He promised to sit down together with Romney and see where the two might work together.

The President said he saw this spirit of working together last week after touring storm damage in New Jersey.

“And tonight, despite all the hardship, despite all the frustration from Washington, I have never been more hopeful about America,” the President said.

He said again that all people, specifically saying Native Americans, can be successful.

“We are greater than the sum of our division,” he said, “We are the United States of America and will continue our journey forward.”

The last week of this campaign was emotional for Obama. It will be his last run for public office. In Iowa Monday Obama said, “you took this campaign and you made it your own and you organized yourselves block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood, county by county, starting a movement that spread across the country, a movement made up of young and old, and rich and poor, and black and white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, Democrats and Republicans who believe we’ve all got something to contribute.”

The President mentions Native Americans routinely. Something that is unprecedented for the leader of the United States.

Obama won at least 274 Electoral College votes, but many other states, including Florida remained too close to call.

Romney called President Obama before 1 a.m. EST and conceded the election. In Boston, Romney took the stage to speak to his supporters.

“This is a time of great challenges for America and I pray the President will be successful leading our nation,” Romney said. He also thanked his running mate, Paul Ryan, which, other than his wife Ann, was the best choice he ever made.

The nation is at a critical point and “we can’t risk partisan bickering,” Romney said. “I believe in America. I believe in the people of America. ... This election is over but our principles endure.”

Romney and Ryan said they had given everything and left everything they had on “the field.”

Republican Mitt Romney was leading in actual votes because he rolled up significant and sizable wins in Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Idaho and other conservative states. That did not translate into any extra Electoral College votes. But it could make it more difficult for Obama to govern because Republicans will claim he has no mandate. However when the situation was reversed: Then President George W. Bush immediately claimed a mandate.

From the beginning of his ascent,  Obama has reached out to Indian country in ways that are unprecedented. Four years ago he campaigned across Indian country. Then he promised, and delivered, an annual summit of tribal leaders, recognizing the unique government-to-government status between the United States and tribes. Obama championed improved law and order on reservations, and supported the Violence Against Women Act. And, perhaps, most important of all, the president supported including the Indian Health Care Improvement Act as part of his centerpiece law, the Affordable Care Act (or ObamaCare).

Indian country returned that support. Reports of turnout on reservations across the country was extraordinary.

Alfred Walking Bull reflected that in a tweet Tuesday night. “Voter turnout in Todd County: 52.28% / Mellette County 64/82!!! That is a win for Indian Country.”

The president’s celebration will be short. Congress returns to Washington next week and they will need to find consensus on some thorny issues, including the so-called fiscal cliff and budget sequestration. The budget issues will require compromise and the newly re-elected president will have to find allies among Republicans in the House and Senate to make that so.

The policy issues ahead for Indian country will be challenging even with the President’s re-election. The good news is the door is open. The bad news is that the problems are deeply troubling because the United States is spending more than it collects. The only way to fix that problem is to raise revenue, cut spending, or both.

Perhaps the biggest winner of this election was the Affordable Care Act or ObamaCare, including the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.

Republicans do not have the votes to repeal it. The Senate remained under Democratic control. But House Republicans continue to have a say over the budget. And that means that there must be a middle ground found to execute and implement what is the law of the land.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. He has been writing about Indian Country for more than three decades. His e-mail is: marktrahant@thecedarsgroup.org.

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