President Barack Obama's re-election Tuesday may set the stage for progress - but only if he is willing to compromise and recognize the mistakes of his first term.
During his victory speech, Obama indicated he does want to work with his political opponents and does recognize the need to alter some strategies. He spoke of "the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward." He told both his supporters and those who voted for Mitt Romney that, "whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you. I have learned from you and you have made me a better president."
Let's hope so. Obama's policies have left the economy stuck much where it was when he took office. The unemployment rate is about the same. There actually are fewer people working than in January 2009.
We hope the lack of real progress is the foundation of an honest reassessment by the president. Freed from the political imperative of not admitting his initial economic strategy failed, Obama now can move forward.
In conceding defeat, Romney reminded his followers, "At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work."
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, agreed. "If there is a mandate, it is a mandate for both parties to find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs," he emphasized.
During the days before the election, there were some indications Obama planned to take a harder line on some of his philosophies. For example, sources in the White House suggested he would be willing to allow tax rates to go up for most Americans if Congress does not go along with his plan to increase the amount higher-income people pay.
That could very well plunge the nation back into a severe recession.
The next few weeks will reveal whether Obama's comments last night were a reflection of a real change in attitude or merely rhetoric meant to make those who voted against him feel better about the election outcome.
But the president himself said it best: "I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil."