Our view: Election’s over, hard work begins

Congratulations to President Barack Obama and all the other winners in Tuesday’s election.

Now that the contentious campaign is over, it’s time that our elected officials – and all Americans, really – put their differences behind them and move forward, regardless of political persuasion.

We realize that is no easy task.

The nation remains divided. Roughly half the country voted for Obama, the other half for Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Despite his loss, we thank Romney for getting into the race and giving Americans a choice.

Although the Electoral College tilted heavily in Obama’s favor, by no means is the election result a mandate.

That said, whether you voted for him or not, Obama will be our president for four more years. He is the president of all of us, not just president of the Democratic Party, or of those who voted for him.

We have not supported many of Obama’s policies these past four years, and we did not endorse his re-election. But we don’t support another four years of gridlock. We don’t support the Republican-controlled House standing firmly on one side, and the Democrat-controlled Senate and president standing firmly on the other, refusing to reach middle ground.

That accomplished nothing the past two years. Americans will be no better off – and likely will be much worse off – four years from now if that gridlock continues.

The two sides don’t – and, certainly, won’t – agree on everything. Indeed, disagreement is essential in an effective democracy. But so, too, is compromise, particularly when that compromise is aimed at solving our significant problems.

And our country’s problems are many.

The federal deficit and our national debt are out of control. In Obama’s first four years, U.S. debt has increased nearly $6 trillion. That’s more than what it increased in eight years under President George W. Bush.

Our deficit and debt must be reined in.

Obama and a divided Congress must work together to draw up a bipartisan plan to balance the budget in the next four years. That’s going to mean hard decisions about spending cuts, including reform of such entitlement programs as Social Security and Medicare. Republicans also might have to compromise on some modest revenue increases.

But any tax increases must not deter job growth. Unemployed Americans need to get back to work, so they can provide for their families as well as contribute once again to the nation’s well-being.

The election is over. The hard work must begin. All sides need to contribute by working together.

It’s not going to be easy. But it must happen.

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