As America gears down after the election, Pres. Obama must now turn his attention to the future. (photo by B. Corbin)
By Robert Bradley
As we become more adjusted to seeing and hearing commercials not promoting a particular political party’ s agenda or attacking a candidate, more consequences from the recent election are becoming visible. Some of them include the following.
Historic diversity in Congress
The newly elected 113th Congress will be the most diverse in American history. Part of the diversity is reflected in a series of firsts among its new members: the first practicing Hindu member of the House, the first Buddhist U.S. Senator, the first openly gay non-white House member, the first House member to have born in American Samoa, the first U.S. Senator to have born in Japan, the first Thai-American woman House member, the first openly gay U.S. Senator, and the first bisexual House member.
There are other elements that reflect the diversity of the new Congress. Before the election, the congressional delegation of New Hampshire was all-male and Republican. After the election it is all female and Democratic. In fact, now both Senators, House members, and the Governor of New Hampshire are women. The first time in history that has happened in any state.
For House Democrats women and minorities will outnumber white males among the elected members for the first time in history. For the Republicans, white males will increase their majority status among members in the House due to election losses by minority and women candidates.
But in a series of internal elections, Republicans elected four women to party leadership positions in the House, including Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers defeating Representative Tom Price in a closely-watched contest for the Chairmanship of the House GOP Conference.
Brief honeymoon period
Wonder if any recent president elected to a second term had a briefer time to enjoy his re-election victory? Almost immediately after his acceptance speech, President Obama had to go to Washington to deal with the approaching ‘fiscal cliff’. Also, he is well aware that several members of his Cabinet are going to resign in the near future, including the Secretaries of State, Defense, and Treasury.
And there are several ongoing international concerns including: the Syrian situation, the increasing militant actions of Israel, questions about Benghazi, and Iran’s steadfast drive to get a nuclear weapon. Plus in an unexpected development, the David Petraeus saga produced many questions about the type of work being done in the guise of intelligence gathering.
Future federal-state legal battles
With the passage of laws permitting the use of recreational marijuana in two states and at least three states passing same-sex marriage initiatives, this sets up conflicts between newly-passed state laws and existing federal legislation. Typically, if federal enforcement is pursued in regard to existing federal laws, then individuals resting their claims on state laws will lose in court. Perhaps Congress can avoid this scenario by enacting legislation repealing DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, and removing federal jurisdiction over marijuana.
While the recent election was historic in regard to the amounts of money raised and spent by candidates, it is not at all clear as to whether money was the deciding factor in all the races that occurred. For instance, the candidate in the presidential race with the much greater personal wealth did not win.
Also, the anticipated slew of lawsuits after the election challenging recent changes in state voter registration policies and other election procedures did not happen. Ultimately, lawyers and judges should not generally be determining election results, it should be voters. And finally, Donald Trump has most likely removed himself from being taken seriously by anyone on the national political scene in the future.
Bob Bradley is solely responsible for the opinions expressed above. These opinions do not necessarily reflect those of WJBC, Radio Bloomington or Cumulus Media staff or management.
Bradley was a full-time professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University where he has been since 1982. He has received several recognitions including: Carnegie Scholar for Civic Engagement, Constitution Trail Friend of the Year, and Faculty Star distinction by ISU Athletics. He dearly loves his wife, Reenie, of more than 25 years, and his daughter, Erin. He is an avid reader, devout sports enthusiast, gardener, golfer, and bird watcher.