Promising to lead the nation with “compassion and character,” George W. Bush became the 43rd President of the United States on Saturday. Most of the brouhaha over the election has been stamped out by the media”s constant insistence that the nation needs to “move on” and just forget about the theft of the election. Bush himself will try to paper over the gaping divisions in public opinion caused by his illegitimate seizure of the presidency by “getting things done.”
The first 100 days in office are always a crucial period for a new president. By showing initiative and recognition that his fraudulent win does not provide him with a right-wing mandate, Bush can demonstrate that he recognizes this nation is a democracy and that he is responsible to a constituency larger than the five conservative Supreme Court justices who stopped an accurate recount in Florida. Here are a few of the issues he must begin to address:
Bush has called for a $1.3 trillion tax cut to be paid from the budget surplus and Congress most likely will pass a tax cut, though not as large as Bush proposes. But Bush must exercise caution in his spending. His plans to raise defense spending must be tempered with more important social concerns such as maintaining the solvency of social security and Medicare and the need to pay down the national debt. During the Clinton years the stock market surged, but with ill-planned tax cuts for the wealthy, Bush could easily erase this and send the budget back into deficit spending.
Hopefully Bush”s foreign policy team is smart enough to steer him away from his reckless campaign pledges of pulling the United States out of many of its oversees commitments. The nation must not isolate itself from the world as Clinton said in his final address from the Oval Office. A continued policy of cooperation with the rest of the world is necessary and the overtly antagonistic policies of giving up on peace-keeping and insisting on implementing a globally-unpopular anti-ballistic missile system. According to his official Website, he wants to “deal with the challenges of China and Russia” and advance peace in the Middle East, specifically in Israel. Former President Bill Clinton has set a good example by being active in trying to improve relations in several troubled areas of the world and the United States must continue to be engaged internationally .
One of the most constant criticisms of Bush is that while governor of Texas, he watched Houston overtake Los Angeles as the nation”s smoggiest city. In addition, he has turned a blind eye to his big polluting, big contributing, oil industry buddies as Texas became one of the nation”s most polluted states. His choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, Christine Whitman, has come under attack by concerned environmentalists over her questionable environmental record as governor of New Jersey. Among Bush environmental proposals are plans to drill for oil in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge and to repeal recent Clinton initiatives protecting 58.5 million acres of public land from logging. The United States needs to concentrate its efforts on energy conservation and developing alternative fuels, not drilling for oil in every last protected piece of public land and chopping down public forests.
Bush”s controversial “victory” in the 2000 election showed how fractured America is politically. In lieu of extreme conservatism, Bush needs to bring the country together. The best way to accomplish this is by moderating his careless and anything-but-compassionate policy proposals. With several key compromises on the issues above, Bush can adhere to the platform on which he was elected without utterly alienating those who did not vote for him majority of his constituents.