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Phew, the US election's finally over

By Chen Weihua (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-09 08:04

I have been in Chicago this week covering the presidential election in the United States. Chicago is US President Barack Obama's adopted hometown, so it's no surprise that the people I talked to at polling stations all said they voted for him.

However, nationwide it is a mixed map. Obama won the popular vote by less than 2 percent, which means that Americans are more divided than in 2008 when Obama defeated John McCain with a much wider margin.

Everyone should be glad that this election is finally over as the campaigning has only made the divisive party politics that has made Washington so dysfunctional worse.

In his concession speech, Republican candidate Mitt Romney said that "we can't risk partisan bickering and political posturing," yet that is exactly what he and Obama have been doing during their campaigning.

While third party candidates such as Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson managed to discuss pressing issues, including climate change, gun control in the US and the legality of drone attacks, in a sensible and intelligent way, Obama and Romney studiously avoided these issues for fear of alienating potential supporters.

Instead they spent a total of $6 billion, the most expensive campaigns ever, attacking each other with unsubstantiated facts and rumors, even though most of the people I met said they were fed up with the negative television and radio campaign advertisements that constantly bombarded them.

Ordinary Americans are fed up with the nation's divisive politics that prevents any real efforts being made to solve the nation's many problems, yet that chronic disease won't be cured any time soon.

And since the Republicans have failed to achieve their goal of making Obama a one-term president, they will continue to use the House of Representatives, which they still control, to obstruct Obama getting anything easily done, as they have over the past four years.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner said on Wednesday that they will work together with Obama to address the US' looming fiscal cliff. However, the softening of his party's confrontational tone was merely symbolic and there is little likelihood, if any, that the Republicans will make major concessions to avert an impending fiscal showdown.

So what Obama will actually be able to accomplish over the next four years is open to question.

But it is welcome news for many that the election is finally over, come what may; and not just for Americans.

Chinese people should be glad that the election has finally ended because China was constantly treated like a punch bag during the campaigning. The attacks on China by Obama and Romney were both irresponsible and immoral. I still believe Obama and Romney owe the Chinese people an apology for the kind of hateful words they used against China. Not that any apology is likely to be forthcoming, especially from Romney, whose book was titled No Apology.

The US presidential elections are always disruptive, so it is a relief when they are finally decided.

However, the bitter feuding between the Republicans and the Democrats at present meant this election was so disruptive that Obama continued his campaign rallies after paying only one short visit to New Jersey, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

While Obama celebrated his re-election on Tuesday, many people in New York and New Jersey were still struggling to recover from the havoc Sandy left in its wake.

People in the US need the two parties to stop making empty promises and really work together for the good of the nation.

The author is deputy editor of China Daily USA. E-mail:

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