In Wake of U.S. Election, Center Directors Offer Context and Analysis

As the sun sets on the epic 2012 presidential election cycle, scholars from the Bill Lane Center – past, present, and future – have taken to the media to help Americans, and westerners in particular, make sense of the results. On CNN's home page on Wednesday morning, Center director David M. Kennedy greeted readers with a sobering preview of the next four years in his op-ed, "Obama's victory won't transform America." 

Americans may yearn for strong leadership, but in their stubborn contrariness they do not want truly powerful leaders. They may want effective government, but they apparently like divided government even more, when neither party simultaneously controls House, Senate, and presidency -- the situation we've been saddled with for 31 of the last 43 years. So it should not be surprising that Obama's accomplishments marked the narrow limits of the achievable. They triggered a vicious political backlash in the 2010 election, ushered in yet another round of divided government, and may yet prove but short-lived reminders of the young president's aspirations, not permanent features of the American landscape.

Professor Kennedy elaborated today on these thoughts in Bloomberg Views, while our incoming faculty director-designate, Bruce Cain, could be heard on the airwaves assessing the election results on the Wednesday morning edition of KQED Radio's "Forum," the full audio of which can be streamed on our website. Professor Cain was part of a panel that included the veteran political consultant Chris Lehane, and the Bill Lane Center's former executive director, Tammy Frisby of the Hoover Institution, who served as an adviser to the Romney campaign.