Local News

November 12, 2012

More of the same?

Is status quo — gridlock — the best we can do?

Regardless of their political persuasion, several Dalton area residents say they don’t feel too good about the results of last Tuesday’s election, especially the presidential contest.

“I feel a great disappointment,” said Whitfield County Republican Party Chairwoman Dianne Putnam. “There was such enthusiasm here for the Republican ticket. We knew it was going to be close, but I thought there would be enough votes for (Mitt) Romney to pull it through.”

“Mitt Romney had so many things going for him, and there were so many negatives for President Obama. The economy. The Libya cover-up, and I do believe he lied to the American people about what happened there,” she said.

Republicans are understandably disappointed that their presidential candidate lost. But even some Democrats say the election left them with mixed emotions.

“Of course, I was thrilled that President Obama won re-election. That was something we worked on for several months, putting up signs, making calls, doing everything we were capable of doing,” said Whitfield County Democratic Party Chairwoman Judy Dirks. “I feel good about that because I thought he needed more time. When he took over, we had a lot of problems, and four years isn’t enough to take care of everything.”

But Dirks said the campaign itself left her with some hard feelings.

“I heard so many negative comments, so much arguing. I’m just glad it’s over. Everybody needs to stop being so negative. We need to learn how to work together. We are all in this together,” said Dirks, who said she had to drop some of her Facebook friends because of what she believed were uncalled for remarks about the president.

Tom Veve, a professor of history at Dalton State College, said the campaign left a bad taste in his mouth as well.

“Romney ran a decent campaign, an honorable campaign. And he got hit with some very cheap shots that should be out of place in presidential elections,” said Veve, a Romney supporter.

Veve referred in particular to an ad in which a former employee of a steel plant claimed Romney closed the plant he worked at, he lost his health insurance and his wife died of cancer shortly afterwards. FactCheck.org called the ad “misleading on several counts.” For one, the man’s wife didn’t lose her health insurance when the plant closed. She lost it a couple of years later when her own health insurance ended, and she passed away five years after the plant closed.

While Obama won re-election, Republicans maintained control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats maintained control of the Senate, essentially continuing the status quo of the past two years in Washington.

Ken Ellinger, an associate professor of political science at Dalton State College who supported Obama’s re-election, said that will likely result in continued gridlock.

“It makes you wonder if Europeans don’t have the right idea. With their proportional system of representation it’s guaranteed that the winner will control the executive branch and the legislative branch,” he said. “Maybe we need to find a way to guarantee that we create a president and a Congress of the same party.”

Congress returns this week for a “lame duck” session, and Ellinger said the country might get a glimpse of how bad gridlock will be during the next two years from this session.

Congress is expected to grapple with the so-called “fiscal cliff,” a combination of more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts that will take place in January if lawmakers don’t act.

Obama has made it clear he will support renewing the Bush-era tax cuts but only for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000 a year. Republicans have so far insisted that the tax cuts be renewed for everyone.

“But I’m not sure they want to continue to be demagogued on that issue,” Veve said.

Veve said he sees Republicans possibly agreeing to Obama’s position on taxes in return for halting the automatic spending cuts for defense and cutting spending elsewhere in the budget.

Ellinger says he’s not sure either side is willing to compromise enough to avoid gridlock, either during the lame duck session or during the next two years.

“I hope they are. I hope they can find a way to work together. But I’m pretty pessimistic,” he said.


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