Obama’s victory is significant

It isn’t a mandate, but it matters

By The Mercury

We congratulate the winners in the general election and we commend the candidates — the local ones, at least — for running generally civil campaigns.

Most of the animosity generated came from deep-pocketed PACs that seemed more interested in smearing opponents than telling the truth. Though it’s probably too much to hope for, perhaps they could invest their money in more constructive outlets; job creation, medical research and helping the homeless come to mind.

If there was a surprise Tuesday, it was Democrat Tom Hawk’s victory over Republican Bob Reader in the 22nd Senate District. Mr. Reader had ousted Roger Reitz, a popular and moderate incumbent, in the primary election and seemed poised to further strengthen Gov. Sam Brownback’s conservative legislative bloc.

That Mr. Reader did not prevail reflects the commitment of moderate Republicans who supported Mr. Hawk, if not publicly, then at the polls. In a district that consists of Riley and Clay counties, Mr. Hawk could not have won without substantial Republican support. His victory may not slow down what still appears to be a conservative juggernaut, but for folks who are wary of extremism, it’s welcome.

Also welcome was renewal of the half-cent countywide sales tax. Perhaps voters were persuaded because it was not a new tax and large numbers of visitors would boost the revenue totals for the benefit of both the city and the county. Even so, the lack of public enthusiasm for it gave supporters pause.

As for the presidential race, the best thing that happened to President Obama — apart from winning re-election — was for him to also win the popular vote. For much of Tuesday night, it appeared that former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate, would win the popular vote. If he had, that would have undermined whatever claim President Obama has to a mandate.

As it is, any claim he makes is tenuous, though his triumph is hardly meaningless. The “fiscal cliff” looms, but President Obama’s victory means that efforts to reduce the deficit will be more balanced than they would have been if Mr. Romney had won. Those efforts almost certainly will include tax cuts as well as spending cuts, which should have been the case in his first term.

The president’s victory also means that although repeal was never likely, Obamacare will continue to be implemented. And President Obama’s victory means that many of the domestic programs for which Mr. Romney had little regard will be judged on their worth, not just their cost.

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