The 2012 Presidential Election is too close to call. The Washington Post reported that their most recent polling showed the two candidates separated by only 10/100th of a single percentage point – 48.56% for President Obama and 48.49% for Governor Romney.
The best outcome of any presidential election is a mandate for the winning candidate, but unless all the polls are really, really wrong that is not going to happen. It, also, appears unlikely that either party will have a majority in both Houses of Congress.
For weeks, the “experts” have postulated that President Obama will win the Electoral College but could lose the popular vote by a few million votes – an unprecedented outcome. Vice President Joe Biden said it best (according to Twitter) – this is a “purple country.”
We are so purple that for the first time since 1800, the Electoral College may end in a tie vote (269 to 269) throwing the election into Congress. A 2012 Electoral College Tie would be settled by the House, with its Republican majority, electing former Governor Romney as President. Then the Senate, with its Democratic majority, would elect Joe Biden as Vice President, just to confound the new president.
But rather than confound, might this shotgun bi-partisan government be the biggest opportunity to really begin to reform government? In the face of the enormous social and economic challenges facing the nation, could either survive politically if they did not meet-in-the-middle?
A partnership between the skilled executive with domestic governing experience and the skilled legislator with a track record of working across the aisle might break the Senate’s legislative log jam —were all innovative initiatives (as well as budgets) went to die for the last three years.
Just like President Obama’s retention of Secretary of Defense Gates, a Romney/Biden inauguration would insure a foreign policy transition from one administration to the next – shortening the new president’s learning curve.
Both of these individuals have the maturity, the sense of country before self, and the sense of history to seize the moment.
While a shotgun bi-partisan government is still an unlikely outcome, it might just be the last best chance to build a sustainable 21st century America.