Phew. That's the sound of the non-American world collectively breathing out at the precise moment Obama was confirmed as president of the United States for four more years.
A Romney presidency would have been a huge planetary setback and as depressing as hell. His loss only confirms the GOP's failure to appeal to voters in the 21st century, because of their obsession with harking back to the mid-20th.
Once they harness their unmitigated anger and hurt, the Republicans must engage in some serious soul searching.
How to pick a candidate who is viable in 2016? How to sell their message of guns, God and greed to a changing demographic? How to tell women what to do with their bodies in a way that doesn't have them running skirts-up for the Democratic hills? How to keep climate change off the agenda when the epic droughts, floods and storms keep on inconveniently rolling in?
No matter how you break it down those are the issues that saw Obama, who on paper hasn't yet achieved like he said he would, re-elected in a climate of lingering economic woes and unacceptable unemployment levels. Better the devil you know, right?
To put up a candidate like Mitt Romney was never going to work. To be fair, the Republicans didn't have much to choose from given the gaggle of charisma-bypassed contenders. I mean Newt Gingrich? Rick Santorum? Rick Perry?
Nevertheless, winning back the White House is going to take some serious, long-term planning employing bi-partisan and strategic thinkers, who understand population trends and cultural issues and aren't interested in packing a Colt-45 and wasting time praising the Lord all day. He ain't gonna' help.
It appears that the political party representing predominantly white folk has chosen to pursue extreme Right- wing, fear-based, religious dogma, over the more inclusive middle-ground.
For that they have paid the price - and will pay it again if they don't learn fast.
Latinos now comprise 15 per cent, and African-Americans 13 per cent, of the population. Republicans once routinely relied on the Latino vote because they shared some of the same values - religion and a strong work ethic - but now have effectively disenfranchised them with overtly racist immigration policies in states such as Arizona. Moves like that resonate throughout the entire country.
Why would anyone want to vote for a political party that doesn't welcome you, while happily letting you do the low-paying, awful jobs that white Americans believe are beneath them?
It was also a campaign memorable for outdated male rants on abortion and contraception. Why would any sane woman gravitate towards a bunch of men telling her what to do with her body?
Not to mention Romney's "binders full of women" remark in relation to making sure he employed a token female from time to time back when he was running a corporation. In his world view the glass ceiling doesn't exist.
The other big triumph of election night was learning that Republican senators Todd Akin ("legitimate rape") and Richard Mourdock (children produced via rape "are a gift from God") lost their seats. I, for one, am eternally grateful to them for their big, dumb mouths.
Why would anyone with even a passing concern for the environment and climate change vote red?
Romney suited the half of America who believe climate change needs to produce its birth certificate to have any chance of being taken seriously.
Both Obama and Romney were criminally quiet on the subject, and Obama has so far achieved little, but at least he believes it's actually happening. That's a start I suppose.
Superstorm Sandy, the ongoing effects of this year's record drought and heatwave and the many other destructive tempests lurking just around the corner, will only serve to sharpen his mind.
Add to the mix insurance companies, already bailing on their responsibilities, and you have a recipe for infrastructural and fiscal disaster. They are a reliable bellwether in such an unashamedly capitalist economy and how is it that they know something that presidential candidates act like they don't?
Of course, the fossil fuel industry has a financial death grip on Washington and that won't change quickly.
I am reminded of Obama's speech at the Democratic convention when he said climate change was not a hoax. Yet, in the very next breath, he spoke of his determination to see America end its reliance on foreign oil. Given that all fossil fuel extraction, particularly coal and fracking, are large contributors to climate change, I found that rather ironic.
Obama knew electorally that the mere mention of climate change was best left unspoken while campaigning. America, and the rest of the world, can only hope that his second term will see some bold moves on that front.
Because of global warming, and America's outright refusal thus far to act on it, I have a strong suspicion that his re-election will only really succeed in kicking the can down the road for a few more years.
But at some point Mother Nature will call in her debt. She always does.
- Taranaki Daily News