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Four more years of hoping for change


Barack Obama has been re-elected president, earning a second term in the White House. Hail to the Chief.

While he has earned the right to celebrate, the president-elect has scant time to prepare for the considerable challenges that face him over the next four years. A great many problems face Obama.

By winning Tuesday's contest, Obama has claimed a mandate to continue the policies he pursued in his first term. But those policies have not served agriculture particularly well, and farmers and ranchers have reason to be concerned.

The president has pursued policies, regulations and enforcement tactics that threaten the viability and character of American agriculture.

He has made it more difficult for farmers to get the legal foreign labor they need. His operatives have sought to put more Western land off limits to grazing. His labor department sought changes in regulations that would have all but excluded young teens from working on the family farm.

His campaign did little to suggest that in a second term his administration, unhindered by the political concerns of re-election, would not pursue these and other policies that could crush Western agriculture.

The president must somehow bridge the partisan divides made wider by a contentious, two-year campaign. As humans, our first inclination as victor is to lord over the vanquished. But guiding 300 million nearly equally divided souls down the same path requires a far more finessed approach.

Principled opponents who disagree about specific policy proposals can still reach agreement on important issues. The ultimate test of Obama's leadership will be his ability to work with those who so vehemently opposed him in the campaign.

Despite not supporting his election in 2008, we gave then President-elect Obama the benefit of the doubt that he would live up to his soaring rhetoric, that we would feel the hope that he offered and realize the positive, post-partisan change that he promised. Like many, we felt that he failed.

With the campaign done, we again encourage President Obama to deliver on his promise to bring the country together. Hope is in woefully short supply, and America is still longing for change.


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