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US President Barack Obama accompanied by (from L-R ) First Lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia appears on stage on election night November 6, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.

Barack Obama accepted victory Tuesday night with the same stirring rhetoric that made America's hopes soar four years ago.

"We are an American family and we rise and fall together as one nation," he told supporters -- and opponents. "We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions."

It was the Obama who raised our hopes for a better America and a better world. He has won the right to continue leading a divided country with a Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a Senate still short of the Democratic numbers needed to defeat a filibuster. This could be the start of another four years of partisan gridlock -- but he seems to hope for better, and we do, too.

Mitt Romney, in a gracious concession speech, fed those hopes. He said it was time to put aside partisan bickering and political posturing -- to "reach across the aisle to do the people's work." Perhaps the party that chose him to carry its banner will listen. America would benefit politically, economically and emotionally if that were to happen.

Talk of mandates is silly. George W. Bush didn't have one; he lost the popular vote in his first election. Obama doesn't have one either. But when America elects a man president for the second time, it has to mean something. If nothing else, it denies the opposition party the ability to claim a mandate to block him.


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The president began his first term seeking collaboration and compromise. He needs to do that again. And the test will come soon: A new fiscal crisis is at hand, with draconian budget cuts to programs valued by both parties set to automatically kick in unless Congress and the president can agree on a more sensible approach to the budget. We know these alternatives exist.

But even if there's more of the same, Americans have reason to celebrate Obama's victory.

Health care reform will proceed, offering insurance to millions of Americans now at risk of losing everything if they fall ill.

Women's rights will be more secure because Obama will be nominating Supreme Court justices and controlling the veto pen.

Silicon Valley's burgeoning clean tech industry will continue to grow because Obama will not roll back the progress America has made toward clean energy. And more Americans will find work and improve their lives because the president understands the importance of middle class buying power, which fuels this consumer economy.

Romney's words were inspiring, but Republicans may have additional incentives to compromise as they analyze this election. Demography is destiny. The party can't hope to win a national majority while committed to policies that insult large portions of the electorate.

So we hope Obama will find new avenues to compromise for the good of all Americans. And we hope the GOP will moderate the extreme positions it has grasped in the past few years, returning more toward mainstream America. If they do, everybody wins.