COLUMBIA, SC We have come to expect this: A nation divided into red, blue and purple states must wait, often into the next day and beyond, to find out who will become the next president.
Voters braved long lines to make this quadrennial decision. Whether they return President Obama to the White House or choose a new leader in former Gov. Mitt Romney, the fear is we remain a country divided: Congress in gridlock, state legislatures tied in knots and families debating across the dinner table.
While Obama and Romney offer competing visions for America, there were signs of bipartisanship in the wake of Hurricane Sandy and the rhetoric in the waning days of the campaign.
Obama, and his most energetic surrogate, former President Bill Clinton, suggest there will be successful compromise with Republicans over taxes and spending, the so-called “Grand Bargain” that fell through in 2010.
Romney argues his record in Massachusetts, working with a Democratic legislature, shows he will reach across the political aisle.
The Rev. Michael H. Baker, senior pastor of the Greater St. Luke Baptist Church on Farrow Road, expects Obama to be re-elected and opposition among Republicans to soften.
“There will be a bit more compromise in the second go-around with President Obama due to the fact that this would be his last term,” Baker said, who thinks “all of the opposition” Obama faced in his first term was designed to make it difficult for the Democrat to win re-election.
“Now I feel that they (Republicans) will be more apt to work with him,” said Baker. “Going into the next round, there will be more of a consensus and willingness to work together, and I give you, as an example, (Republican N.J. Gov.) Chris Christie. When the storm came, politics was set aside.”
Dee Benedict is optimistic too.
An evangelical Christian from Greer, Benedict expects Romney will win and lead America into a new bipartisan era.
“There are a fair amount of Democrats who would love the opportunity to reach across the aisle,” and suspend what she sees as a “hyper-partisan” atmosphere within the Obama circle.
“These are Democrats who want cover and who can say, ‘Now we can work,’ ” Benedict said. “There will be a strong willingness to tackle these problems.”