Jeana's World of Law

Jeana's World of Law

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Obama Wins 2012 Presidential Elections: Now What?

Barack Obama won his second term with 303 electoral votes compared to Mitt Romney's 206. In addition, he also overtook the popular votes. Although the celebration continues, the race is over. So now what? According to CNN, there are five things Obama must do.

The five things include managing the Arab world, the economy, the dysfunctional congress (which is now a Democratic Senate and a Republican House of Representatives), tax reform, and climate change.

In a nut shell, here are priorities one through four: Obama must 1) stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and the violence, and unrest, and terrorism spreading within the Middle East; 2) lower the unemployment rate and debt and figure out how to get China to engage in fair trade; 3) manage a two-party Congress that contains leaders from the Tea Party; and 4) cut a deal on tax reform. The four former priorities aren't all that innovative. The Presidents before Obama had pretty much the same list, given some little tweaks here and there. However, fifth priority is a relatively new issue that the President must face that could both affect and be affected by the Arab world, economy, Congress, and tax cuts.

Climate change was not mentioned during the presidential campaign or the debates. In fact it was ignored until Hurricane Sandy showed up at the country's doorstep. Hurricane Sandy may not have been created by climate change, but it certainly burgeoned its force and strength through hotter climates (which lead to both more evaporation and thus moisture in the air as well as creating the ideal pressure system for a super storm) and rising sea levels (which of course lead to more intense storm surges and flooding).

Romney stated loud and proud that he would put Keystone XL into effect on day one of his would-be administration, in addition to stripping the majority of the Environmental Protection Agency's power, among other things. Maybe he wouldn't have said these statements with such gusto if he knew Hurricane Sandy was on its way to show the force of Mother Nature. The truth is that we can no longer rely on coal, which has always been the "bad guy" in the climate change debate.

Right before the election Michael Bloomberg endorsed Obama, stating that he was the President that would take climate change as a serious issue. And it's not just Hurricane Sandy that causes Obama to support initiatives aimed at fighting climate change; throughout his term his administration has supported Providence to San Diego solar and wind projects, cap-and-trade schemes, and initiatives to lower the United States' dependence on foreign oil. In short, Obama believes in climate chance and agrees with the science supporting it.

In his acceptance speech, Obama said, “We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” That's right, climate change, the issue that was ignored throughout the entire 2012 Presidential Elections, is now being included in the same sentence with economy and inequality.

So what can Obama do? Simply, he could create a more regulations through the EPA, install a carbon tax, and set aside more money for renewable energy. Although he faces a divided Congress, it is likely that he may accomplish more goals in his second term than during the first (remember the failed 2010 Energy Bill?). It won't happen in a day, but perhaps Obama could start turning the wheels that get the US to be a country that generates more renewable energy than drilling oil.

In the past, issues regarding the environment have been so far down on the list of priorities that viable options were near impossible. Today, it has made it all the way to the top five. Perhaps thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the importance of these issues will be thwarted into real debate, if not yet legislation, that will help the US move forward in reducing its carbon emissions and dependence on foreign oil.

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