My goodness, what a great gnashing of teeth in some quarters that President Obama has been reelected. Reactions have ranged from agonizing soul-searching of what went wrong, to finding straw men to blame for the loss (Liberal media! Voter fraud! The Takers!) to outright ranting of how the republic has reached its final days and America is fated for a long, agonizing decline.
My own view is probably most closely aligned with the last one... but I've felt that way since the 1980s, save for a brief surge of optimism in the late 90s. And, I would have felt that way if Romney had won instead of Obama.
I know it's trite to say that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. But, from my perspective, there's very little difference between Democrats and Republicans. Both parties have demonstrated a devotion to unrestrained use of the national credit card. Both parties have demonstrated a willingness to throw away American lives in wars of dubious value to the security of this nation. Neither side has shown a surplus of respect for individual liberties. Neither side has shown much respect for capitalism, with both parties allowing large financial institutions to loot the national treasury.
It's true that Obamacare is a monstrosity of paperwork and complications that will likely make health care more expensive, more opaque, and less responsive. But, as someone who has had many chances to witness the workings of the modern health care system, I can testify that the system before Obama was elected was a morass of paperwork, outrageous costs, opaque billing, and frustrating wait times. Last year when I developed my thyroid problems, I had no existing family physician, and most doctors offices I called to see if I could get a checkup quoted me wait times of several months before they could see me (though I did eventually find one that saw me after a wait of merely several weeks). I honestly don't know what the answer would be to improving our health care system, but I also know I certainly never heard even one sentence from Romney, McCain, or Bush that indicated that they had any better ideas than Obama did.
As for issues of national defense, as the foreign policy debate indicated, there was no discernible difference between Obama and Romney, because there is no important difference between Obama and Bush. As for Obama's horrible mishandling of the attack in Libya and what I feel is an ongoing cover up, I'm happy to admit that heads should roll for this. But, the magnitude of Obama's negligence in this situation is pretty small potatoes compared to the magnitude of Bush's deciding to invade a foreign country to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction that turned out, in retrospect, to be figments of the imagination. Four thousand Americans and a minimum of a hundred thousand Iraqis have perished because Bush made poor decisions. Compared to four US deaths, it's difficult to get too worked up by the right wing outrage machine.
Returning to fiscal matters: Obama has been absolutely horrible on the federal budget. But, I never heard any serious plan from Romney to fix things. I'm all for cutting funding for NPR, but that's just drops in the deficit bucket. I don't believe that marginal tax cuts have the stimulative effect that Republicans seem to believe it. Much of the Obama stimulus was tax cuts, as was Bush's stimulus, and his budgets weren't balanced either. It was difficult to take Romney seriously when he swore not to trim even a dime from the military. Ryan's supposedly serious budget plan promised to balance the budget by 2040! Talk about political courage!
My biggest regret of the Obama reelection is that we will probably wind up with at least one more youthful liberal Supreme Court Justice. It's not that I'm a 100% fan of the conservative wing of the court, but at least they seem to acknowledge that the government has some constitutional restraints.
But, there are positives to Obama's victory as well, from my perspective. The cause of gay marriage will be able to advance in a more friendly environment. The children of illegal immigrants can live their lives in slightly less fear of deportation. Atheists won't be dismissed as unpatriotic and unworthy of belonging to the greater American family.
So, take heart, Republicans. The nation you will live in for the next four years is pretty much the same nation you would be living in if your guy had won. Democrats, don't gloat too much. Life under Obama is very little different from life under a 4th term of George W. Bush. Yeah, liberals can cherish small victories, and Republicans will have many chances to fester with outrage, but, from a libertarian perspective, it's pretty much all the same.