With the re-election of President Barack Obama, America has an opportunity. So does the Mahoning Valley.
Capitalizing on that opportunity depends on how much our leaders are willing to work together over the next four years. Less than 48 hours after the November General Election, indications as to whether they can succeed are mixed.
The president, as he did during the campaign for his first term, indicated he sees the value in cooperation.
''Progress will come in fits and starts,'' the president cautioned in his victory speech. ''The recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock ... or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus. But that common bond is where we must begin.''
Gracious in defeat, Republican challenger Mitt Romney also expressed his desire for consensus building.
''At a time like this, we can't risk partisan bickering,'' Romney said. ''Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people's work.''
But there are those who will be obstinate.
Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland sounded ready to dig in his heels and fortify the walls of division after Ohio handed Obama a second term. ''Oh, my friends, victory is so sweet, is it not?'' Strickland told partisans in Columbus late Tuesday.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, backed by an even split in the popular vote results from Tuesday's presidential election, sounded just as obstinate saying his party also has orders from the people.
Ultimately, uniting the nation falls on the president.
Obama won with the highest unemployment rate for any incumbent since the Great Depression. He won even though polls indicate that voters thought Romney would be the better choice to end stalemate in Washington. He won even though a substantial majority of voters said they were not better off than they were four years ago - often the litmus test for incumbent presidents.
Obama has no learning curve this term. He must find consensus fast as tax cuts are set to expire on Jan. 1 and budget cuts set to kick in on the same day, a combination that economists warn could crush the economy.
In the long term, Ohio, and more specifically the Mahoning Valley, hold the key to much of the nation's success. The potentially rich Utica and Marcellus oil and natural gas reserves could fuel the nation's economy and end her dependence on foreign energy supplies.
It might require the kind of cooperation that Ohio Gov. John Kasich expressed after the election. ''Working together we can tear down the barriers to growth that are holding Ohio and America back,'' Kasich said.
Obama fueled partisan divide for four years but maybe had a light bulb moment last week. He and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie shared a spotlight after Hurricane Sandy.
''He has sprung into action immediately,'' said Christie when Obama visited areas of New Jersey ravaged by Hurricane Sandy.
''He has put his heart and soul into making sure the people of New Jersey bounce back stronger than before,'' said Obama of the governor.
Yes, Obama is the leader of the Democrat Party. Christie is a leading Republican. Politically, they probably can't stand each other.
But this isn't politics. This is a massive disaster, when party labels don't really count. When tragedy strikes, the American people pull together and do all we can for our beleaguered neighbors. We expect our public officials to do the same working together.
The federal budget, national deficit and unemployment rates are tragedies and crises of a different sort, and they are leaving Americans beleaguered.
It's time to pull together.