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Opinion: US election outcome expresses country's dissatisfaction

The midterm election results show that Americans are not happy with their president's policies. Barack Obama has to now own up to his faults and react, says DW's Washington correspondent Christina Bergmann.

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It was the anticipated slap in the face for the US president. Barack Obama had tried to do everything right and everything at the same time. Now, he has to realize that he blew it with all sides in the process.

The conservatives were seething above all from the health reform, which they view as an unacceptable government intrusion into their lives. But Obama failed to dominate the debate in time. Now, he has to recognize that it's not enough to do good deeds. You also have to talk about them.

Even faithful supporters accuse him of failing to set his priorities right. They say he should have dealt with the economy instead of the health reform. As a matter of fact, Obama did do so right at the beginning of his term. But the administration too quickly assumed that economic activity would pick up again.

The economic crisis in Europe threw a monkey wrench in these plans - and unemployment figures in the US increased. The president recognized too late that when citizens are hard up, they always point their finger at the White House.

Christina Bergmann

Christina Bergmann is DW's Washington correspondent

Obama also alienated many supporters in his voter base, for example through his inconsistent back and forth about military guidelines forbidding homosexuals from serving openly in the military. During his campaign, Obama had pledged to do away with this practice. He couldn't fulfill this promise just as little as he could his vow to close Guantanamo within one year's time.

But above all, Barack Obama underestimated one thing: voters all across the country still don't think much of "Washington." Two years ago, Obama was able to benefit from this attitude. He promised to change politics in the capital. But he has not accomplished that. The rift between the Democrats and the Republicans is deeper than it ever was. It's high time to redeem this pledge of bipartisanship.

It makes just as little sense to always blame the Republicans - who indeed were mainly experts in saying "no" - as it does to constantly point the finger at his predecessor. It's true: George W. Bush did drive the country into a crisis. But that is in the past. Washington is now personified by Barack Obama as he found out bitterly on this election day.

Author: Christina Bergmann / sac
Editor: Rob Mudge

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