“If you don't have a record to run on, then you paint your opponent as someone people should run from. You make a big election about small things. And you know what? It's worked before, because it feeds into the cynicism we all have about government.” — Barack Obama

Obama’s political team should be commended for its re-election strategy. This was not a moral or intellectual victory, it was simply a tactical one. The divisive antipathy they created against the most productive part of society will hurt us all immeasurably.

Obama and his Chicago machine convinced increasingly gullible Americans that nothing is ever his fault, despite all the evidence. It will be interesting now to see Obama blame the previous president for the problems our country faces.

Intellectuals offer solutions. Low-end political operatives without ideas attack the opponent’s integrity and vilify him personally. The election is over, but the ideological divide remains.

Obama went petty, mean and divisive. He did what he had to do to win — and it worked.

Meanwhile, at their peril, Republicans ignore the libertarians within their ranks. 

Because a moderate like Romney had to endure a GOP primary dominated by hard-right zealots, he was painted into an untenable corner of severe views that do not play well at the national level. Idiots like Todd Akin (the “legitimate rape” Missouri Senate candidate) and his clone Mourdock in Indiana (who said pregnancy by rape is God’s will), continue to haunt other Republican candidates who are often defined by the worst in their party.

If the GOP is going to have any influence, they have to stop nominating rigid, far-right nuts. Candidates who come out of the GOP primary are too oddly right-wing. They desire to make America a theocracy, governed by their Biblical interpretation, and are willing to invade and bomb any despot-led country that snarls at us.

The GOP cannot say they are for minimal government and minimal intrusion — except in areas where their interpretation of the Bible allows them to tell the rest of us what to do. The GOP cannot insist on limiting women's ability to get contraceptives by saying it goes against their interpretation of the Bible. They waste time and energy obsessing about what gays do with their lives.

All this does not work.

In large part because of this, Romney lost by 11 points with women. They want their choices left intact. And they do not want wars of "choice" that empty our treasury, bring our sons and daughters home wounded or in body bags, and which accomplish nothing.

Rigid and judgmental stances on issues are huge turn-offs for most of us. People understand that their choices are limited, but they are usually not smart enough to understand the complex costs of bad economic decisions.

Obama is the first president re-elected with a smaller percent of the vote than he won the first time. This was not a resounding mandate. It will be interesting if Obama heeds the example of Bill Clinton in his second term and moves to the right in order to solve the problems our country faces. I really hope he does. For the most part, I think Obama is right on social issues, but woefully wrong on economic ones.

This administration and its media sycophants have somehow made us numbly accept that 7.9 percent unemployment and anemic growth of 1.9 percent is OK. It might be the "new norm," where we lack economic optimism and where the Atlases of industry are shackled by regulations and taxes.

Innovators, entrepreneurs and economic engines will not work as hard to create growth in our country if taxes on the money they make are increased to 40 percent, and then the government takes 55 percent of what is left when they die. Few business people will endure the rigors of starting or growing private sector jobs under the tone and tenor of this administration. Would you?

Those with money will just spend their time and energy playing games to reduce their taxes and avoid regulations. The result is not jobs and growth.

There is an erosion of optimism in this country; we are sliding toward selfish expediency. Obama must deal with this fiscal mess ($16 trillion in debt up from $10 trillion when he took office) he has largely created. There is no way to do it without the industrious people in America working to grow the economy.

A syndicated op-ed humorist, award winning author and TV/radio commentator, you can reach him at      Ron@RonaldHart.com, Twitter @RonaldHart or at visit RonaldHart.com