Well, the election results are in and in perhaps what is the most amazing turn of events possible, nothing has changed. Voters returned President Barack Obama to office, along with a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate and a Republican-controlled U.S. House. That spells gridlock.
On a whole host of issues, gridlock may be just what the American people want. Ticket-splitting ensures that neither party can pass its agenda. It ensures the status quo, i.e. the devil we know.
On the other hand, the United States cannot afford gridlock. The "fiscal cliff" looms before the end of the year. This is a combination of spending cuts and tax increases that must be addressed, or the nation is likely to slip into another recession.
Beyond this immediate concern is the long-term juggernaut of the federal deficit and debt. There is a potential bright spot here, however. President Obama does not have to face re-election. That means he is no longer beholden to the left wing of his party. He is free - if he chooses to be - to compromise with Republicans. An easy start would be to approve longer-term spending cuts that he considered previously, before he torpedoed negotiations with House Speaker John Boehner. The cuts have to come anyway. The sooner a decision is made, the better for everyone involved.
Obama also is now free to pursue tax reform, to simplify the system, lower rates and broaden the base, all of which can be tweaked to boost revenue.
In the end, what re-election has given the president is room to maneuver, to actually be the post-partisan he promised to be - but never was - during his first term. We look forward to seeing a new Barack Obama, if the president is serious about the nation's future.