The election is over, but the country is still polarized. President George W. Bush decidedly won the election with a popular vote majority but he failed to secure a decisive mandate. Bush received 51 percent of the vote to Sen. John Kerry’s 48 percent; this gives Bush the obvious advantage, but by no means does it give him the authority to neglect the needs of Democrats. He cannot simply waltz around and do what he pleases without “reaching across the aisle” to them. If he wishes to be recognized by all people of this country as legitimate, he needs to stick to his conservative agenda while pleasing the majority of responsible Democrats. Only if this is accomplished will we be united.
This task could be tough, as we have seen throughout the past four years, but it is achievable if he accomplishes several things to transit his administration more to the center. This transition could be made simple if he realizes his target base. Now, that may be hard to specify because he has been widely supported and ridiculed by an array of elite Democrats. The only observable group he should not worry about pleasing is those of the likes of Michael Moore; these people feel that Bush can do no good. It would simply be a waste of time.
Now, while he is focusing on elite Democrats and not conspiracy theorists, he needs to carry out at least two objectives. First, he should appoint a judge who will interpret the constitution strictly, but he should put the focus on those who are Democrats.
This would imply that Bush is able to separate politics from his personal beliefs. Thus, picking a Democrat who would strictly interpret the Constitution would prove his convictions and be widely respected.
The second part of this abridged agenda has to do with Bush’s foreign policy team. There are many Democrats who supported the war in Iraq as well as the spread of democracy in the Middle East. He needs to cross party lines and meet the Democrats at least half way. Yes, to all you doubters, there are many who believe the spread of freedom is imperative to our national security.
As a result of this “coalition,” our country can achieve more unity. Democrats will be jubilant to know that they share part of the power of the administration and Republicans will remain satisfied because of Bush’s conservative schema, but this does not mean that everything is “hunky dory.” Some Americans don’t care who serves with or under Bush, but they do feel neglected by government as a whole. However pleased the political elites may be, they need to be cognizant of all Americans.
To help resolve this neglect, Bush needs to appoint Democrats and Republicans alike who can work together and fix problems. One of the most demanding issues at hand is the improvement of our nation’s public schools. If he could get Democratic help in issuing voucher programs as well as implementing agendas to our failing inner-city schools, it would be a great achievement. If done, he would be sticking to his claim to help “all America’s children.”
There is no doubt that Bush will go down in history as one of America’s most influential presidents, but his second term is crucial to accomplish the title of a “uniter.” He has already achieved what many thought he could not: a second term. If he wants it to be successful, he needs to do a few things to bring the two polarizing parties together. Similarly, if this is done it would eliminate the fringe-radical groups. President Bush and the Republicans should reach for your hand, Sen. Kerry and the Democrats should reach for your hand, and if they are willing to work together then we should reach out our hands.
Erik Raymond is a sophomore majoring in political science.