barack-obama_1_web.jpgPresident Barack Obama’s convincing re-election victory gives him an opportunity to complete the work he started to stop Iran’s development of nuclear arms to destroy our closest ally Israel, along with other objectives on the international front, and, domestically, to heal the economy, with all the attendant benefits such as bringing jobs back and saving more homes from foreclosure.

But this is also an opportunity for Mr. Obama to carve out a distinct, lasting legacy, not for just being the first black American to be elected to the White House, but for taking bold, decisive action to ensure the survival of initiatives that form the main planks of the Democratic Party’s platform — planks that signify acknowledgement of the fact that America is a compassionate nation.

Social safety-net programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and welfare have for decades been in the line of fire for Republicans wishing to turn the country over to freewheeling, predatory capitalism with many aspects of life governed by corporations, the private sector and the wealthy class.

This fundamental philosophical difference between the two parties was the most important campaign issue of 2012 and Mr. Obama and the Democrats won.

Unlike what he allowed to happen in the debate that eventually led to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — healthcare reform — Mr. Obama must seize the moment immediately and act to ensure that the signature initiatives of the Democrats are not vulnerable to those who seek to wield the budget axe against them.

Regardless of what Mitt Romney, the defeated Republican presidential candidate, and Paul Ryan, his running mate, promulgated during the campaign, not too many Americans want to live on handouts.

But as the economic downturn showed, there are times when it is hard to argue against the necessity for the programs of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal. Keeping those programs intact, while supporting our allies, is Mr. Obama’s call to duty.