New Hampshire voters couldn't have been clearer about the direction they wanted for both America and the Granite State in the November 6 general elections. At the national level we re-elected President Barack Obama by a 5 percent margin, making him 2 for 2 here with his 2008 victory. The Obama win was hardly a universal mandate however, and his 50.5 percent overall popular vote (despite his huge electoral college margin due to close victories in many swing states) demonstrates how divided the country remains. Recent quotes from House Speaker John Boehner have been encouraging however, and as the GOP can't spend the next four years unsuccessfully attempting to make Obama a "one-term president" now, there seems in the early going the very real possibility of a more reach-across-the-aisle Congress over his second and final term. Senate Minority GOP head Mitch McConnell, with his infamous comments showcasing his desire for the president to fail (helped along by four years of Republican obstruction in Washington) will probably be a far harder sell, however.
Here in New Hampshire both Democrats and Republicans came together in painting our state blue as we elected another Democrat governor, former State Senate Majority leader Maggie Hassan, as governor replacing John Lynch, as well as sent Annie Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter to Congress. Hassan's victory over Tea Party favorite Ovide Lamontagne was a telling sign that both sides of the aisle were sick and tired of the fractious, ugly mess that FORMER House Speaker Bill O'Brien had made of Concord, as both his bullying tactics over both Democrats as well as moderate members of his own party were widely criticized for the past two years. Despite O'Brien's re-election last week he has announced that he thankfully won't seek to be minority head, and with his ouster there's a good shot that some civility and cooperation between the parties will ensue over the Hassan administration.
New Hampshire House numbers did a complete turnaround with about 75 sitting GOP members, many of them from the extreme right, losing their positions, replaced by Democrats and moderate Republicans. When the last recounting is finished the revised tally will be an approximate 220 Democrat members of the 400-seat House, giving them a similar majority to what the GOP had for the past two years. The Senate remains Republican by a 13-11 margin (but down from 19-5), once again marking the Granite State electorate as some of the most independent voters in the nation.
The 2012 NH Republican purge can be blamed almost entirely on the extreme conservative wing that took over both government strongholds in the 2010 elections, when too many Democrats stayed home and too many GOP voters didn't examine the out-of-touch, non-compromising and destructive views of the candidates they pulled the levers for. The unhappy result was a Tea Party tsunami, their candidates the happy recipients of BOTH parties' largesse. The O'Brien-led nightmare ensued over the next two years, cutting over half of the state education budget to UNH and other colleges, closing a number of state hospitals costing thousands of jobs, enacting anti-union legislation that wound up galvanizing our workers to get to the polls THIS time, and the proposed gutting of Medicare that would've cost our seniors between $5,000 to $7,000 more annually in healthcare costs. O'Brien and his conservative cohorts left no stone unturned in their desire to downgrade New Hampshire from the much-admired New England bellwether of ultra-low taxes, family-friendly legislation, solid educational support and respect for its citizens.
The good news is that with O'Brien clone Lamontagne defeated and Hassan ready to take charge, most of the above regression will be rectified in due time as her policies are implemented. And with Kuster and Porter working for us in Washington, Barack Obama will have a pair of sure votes to buttress his own upcoming federal legislation aims, which include negotiating the "fiscal cliff" of the Dec. 31 end of the Bush temporary tax cuts, balancing the budget, bringing the Afghanistan conflict to a close in 2014, furthering the Obamacare process as new laws, cost cuts and safeguards are meted out over his second term, along with other initiatives including a revised route for the Keystone XL pipeline and federally-mandated green alternative energy policies.
But equally important is the fact that with Obama in the driver's seat again the positive legislation that his team and the Democrats were successful in implementing over his first term will remain in place, including the Dodd-Frank Act, Wall Street Reform, the aforementioned Healthcare Act, and his much-intensified worldwide anti-al Qaeda offensive, which between many high-profile killings and captures as well as the ongoing drone attacks have exacted a devastating toll on our enemy's base.
New Hampshire and America both did themselves proud last week. The next four years should be very interesting as our ongoing sojourns of restoration and improvements for all of us continue.
GOD BLESS AMERICA