Common Sense: Week of November 15


The French have a saying that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I think this phrase accurately sums up the recent national election. On just about every level, despite the expenditures of literally billions of dollars, the results reflected very few changes.

I suppose, if most Americans thought issues from the economy to foreign policy were going well, I could understand the outcome better. That, at least as reflected by polling or for that matter just talking to your neighbors and friends, does not seem to be the case. So, what did happen?

In fact, just slightly fewer than half the country voted against giving President Obama four more years. So the argument that the president was elected with some sort of mandate to raise taxes or continue with his lame foreign policy is just not present in the numbers.

Americans voted for a divided federal government with a very conservative Republican majority still firmly in control of the House of Representatives. Americans voted for checks and balances. Maybe those checks and balances will result in compromises. Maybe in some cases they will result in stalemates.

Whatever should happen, an election which seemed in the end to be a lot about nothing, with the same faces returning to government in Washington, actually might truly reflect the genius of the American system.

The system at its best sorts out various views and philosophies, hopefully giving you a government that all Americans can feel at some level represents them. In 2012, Americans in the final analysis voted for a cautious approach in Washington.

I noted earlier that just under half the country voted against President Obama and in that there is another point. Victories in elections are usually a combination of those primarily voting against someone joining a larger group that is enthusiastically voting for someone. In this case, there were plenty of people willing to vote against President Obama, but sadly it never really seemed that many were going out to vote for Mitt Romney.

This lack of excitement in the Romney candidacy was talked about often leading up to the Republican National Convention. This “blah” factor was a problem that Romney was never able to overcome.

Maybe the most telling reflection on the 2012 presidential election is how happy everyone was when it was over. It seemed to go on forever. Even someone like myself, who has made politics and government a big part of his life, was happy to see it come to an end.


Locally, Election Day and election night were very different due to super storm Sandy. Congressmember Michael Grimm. State Senator Marty Golden and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, all of whom were comfortable re-elected, suspended their campaigns the day of the storm.

Grimm and Malliotakis on Election Day did what they had done the previous seven days, which was to work in devastated communities in the Staten Island part of their districts. They did not campaign whatsoever. Their opponents, Mark Murphy and John Mancuso, did campaign in Brooklyn outside of polling places.

State Senator Marty Golden visited polling places on Election Day without campaign literature, but plenty of FEMA and OEM material. He used Election Day as an opportunity to connect with the many individuals throughout his district that had storm related concerns.

All three ended up at very somber victory gatherings that evening where most of the conversations were not about their victories, but about the devastation caused by the storm and the status of recovery efforts.

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