The election is over. Barack Obama won the presidency, the far right is in shambles, Democrats won governorships and a few new Congressional and state legislative seats. Most people may not see the election results as a clear mandate for the Obama presidency, but they may also not see the election as a clear mandate for government to come together on issues very important to the average American. One thing is for sure, since we essentially elected the very same government we had already, there is no excuse for a "lame duck" approach to the remaining Congressional work period prior to Christmas vacation; Congress and the president have many things to accomplish in the next few weeks with little real reason not to just get on with it and get things done.
Doing something to avoid the "fiscal cliff" tax hike and austerity situation is probably the number one immediate priority of this government. While a few Republicans would like to keep up the fight and obstruct the solution, theirs is a lost cause given the public awareness and real concern about the economic consequences of partisan failure. The president is aware, whether Congress may be fully, that the people want a solution--a definitive one--to our economic ills, one that is fair and balanced; there is a certain acceptance that cuts in expenditures are going to be a reality, and there is a lot of wasteful spending in many areas of government that most people agree needs to be addressed. But the people also expect the very well-off to pay their fair share just like everybody else--it really doesn't matter what the tax rate on million-dollar income is, with so many loopholes that allow them to get away without paying at all. Even if the wealthy actually paid their current percentages it would mean an increase in revenue. If the people stand up to their Congressional delegates and demand it, change will happen, but only if Congress is fully convinced that there will be definite public consequences for failure.
I see other important priorities the federal government should quickly seek to address, as well. For the good of Americans without the benefit of reasonable access to health care, and to limit the growing costs of health care, most especially to the indigent and to those with more serious, ongoing health problems, to all levels of government, the president's Affordable Care Act should be fully implemented--resolve the pertinent questions, consult with the public and experts to enact a wise and workable program, and move on. While working on the nation's health care issues, special attention needs to be paid to the growing thousands of military veterans with service-connected health issues who daily struggle with a reticent and often adverse veterans affairs system. The Department of Veterans Affairs needs a serious, new, public mandate to timely and adequately care for "he who has borne the battle". The federal government should be positively tasked with a primary responsibility to consider and provide funding for the needs of those who will likely come out of battle with wounds and lasting scars before they haphazardly, for purely political reasons, get us into any more wars of opportunity. If the people stand up to their president and Congress and demand it, change will happen, but only if Congress and the president are fully convinced that there will be definite public consequences for failure.
The government can no longer afford to ignore important issues such as farm bills, climate concerns, veterans' jobs bills, and other important issues with the excuse of taking a vacation or getting time off to get re-elected. The job of Congress, and of the president, is to do the work of government, not to primarily be concerned about their re-election. Congress, the president, and all other elected officials need to realize that if they are doing their jobs well, their re-election will be assured. Government reform efforts such as the push to overturn Citizens United, should be accompanied by a demand to eliminate money from lobbying efforts and limit election campaigning to three months before primaries and three months before the general elections, with campaign funds of only what is available from the tax form checkoff and whatever private citizen donations (limit of $2500 per person per campaign) can be garnered. In addition, political campaign speech should be regulated the same as commercial advertising--you cannot lie about a product or service, so you should not be able to get away with lying about your record or your intent (or someone else's) for obtaining elected office. If a candidate cannot convince his constituency to choose him or her in 90 days, something is very deeply wrong with our society and our political system. Two-year, multi-billion dollar election campaigns are simply ridiculous. If the people stand up to their elected officials and demand it, change will happen, but only if the elected officials are fully convinced that there will be definite public consequences for failure.
My final priority, although certainly not least in importance, regards the discussion of "equality" in America--be it economic, cultural, or racial in nature. The American public is constantly engaged by the media and through various news events, about prejudicial treatment or discriminatory behavior in some regard, whether it is due in some way to some government action, or social controversy. It just amazes me that in 21st century America, we can find the impetus to go to war with some Middle East tyrant who is abusing people of differing or opposing cultures, to engage in a phony class war in America with no obvious solution in mind, and to lament the numbers of minority populations in our nation's inexcusably overcrowded prisons and still completely ignore the hundreds of thousands of American Indians living in abject poverty under ongoing oppression and the consequences of literally hundreds of broken treaties. The government publicly calls their internment camps "reservations", but they are otherwise officially known as prisoner of war camps. American Indians proudly serve the country's whims in American armed forces only to return home to become prisoners of war. The people have no cultural or value control of the land on which they live; there is rampant drug addiction and alcoholism among the people and their languages and customs are largely lost. Yet, Americans can make a real difference in our greatest national travesty. If the American people stand up to their elected officials and demand it, change will happen, but only if those elected officials are fully convinced that there will be definite public consequences for failure.