Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Nothing's going to get done'

American neighbours talk about the future

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GRAND FORKS -- Daryl Bragg sipped his coffee as he cracked Wednesday's edition of the Grand Forks Herald.

He lingered for a few seconds on the front page headline: OBAMA -- America wants four more years. "What a battle," he said. "I knew it was going to be close, but not this close."

The general reaction here at Darcy's Café in north Grand Forks early Wednesday morning was that U.S. President Barack Obama's second-term win Tuesday night wasn't much of a surprise.

Diehard Republican supporters didn't like it, but those chowing down on breakfast also don't like the way their party has swerved so far right in the political spectrum.

Bragg, who works in the gardening industry, said the previous night's outcome should serve as a warning to the Republicans, led to defeat by Mitt Romney, to get their house in order to recognize how the United States has changed.

"Us old white males are not going to dominate elections in the country again," he said, adding by continuing to ignore women and minorities, the Republican party is doomed.

Kenton McGregor and his wife, Marilyn, echoed that. Both said they're staunch Republicans who can't stand Obama and his Democrats' freewheeling spending. But they also said their party can no longer ignore the new reality on the American landscape.

"I don't think they realize how much the poor have gotten poorer," Kenton, an apartment block owner, said over his stack of pancakes. "Our minimum wage is $7.25 and it hasn't changed since 2009. Medical insurance has gone up. The cost to fix your car has gone up. How do you meet that at $7.25 an hour?

"So I agree with the Republicans' ethics, but not their economics."

Marilyn added Obama needs to make headway in addressing the country's economic woes, such as lowering the unemployment rate, or the honeymoon of his second-term win will be brief.

"He didn't even make an attempt to fix it in his first four years," she said, adding the popular vote, split between Obama and Romney, means U.S. politics will be bitterly deadlocked for another four years. "Nothing's going to get done," she said, sipping her coffee.

Industrial mechanic and Obama supporter Russell Black said the Republicans' ultra-conservative positions, such as restricting immigration, will make them increasingly irrelevant.

"They've crossed that ideological bridge and they can't come back," he said. "The Republican party will become a party of a smaller and smaller minority that accomplishes less and less."

Back in the kitchen, cook Lee Glatt said besides minorities, the Republicans have also shut the door on women. Obama campaigned on issues such as pay equality and women's health care and accused the Republicans of waging a "war on women" from which Romney never recovered.

"It's hard for the Republicans to appeal to a wider demographic with their stand on women and immigration," Glatt said. "How can they widen that appeal with what they said?"

Tuesday night's vote in North Dakota, and its three electoral college votes, all went to Romney.

The one surprise was Democrat Senate contender and former North Dakota attorney general Heidi Heitkamp's win over Republican Rick Berg. Heitkamp becomes the 20th woman to join the upper chamber in the new Congress. North Dakota also defeated a measure that would have created a felony penalty for malicious cruelty to a dog, cat or horse.

Voters also approved a state measure to ban smoking in all public places such as bars. Voter turnout was expected to be 64 per cent or 65 per cent including advance and absentee voters.

Across the Red River in Minnesota, that state's 10 electoral college votes went to Obama.

Minnesotans also defeated a proposed amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage in the state's constitution.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 8, 2012 A4

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