A dramatic and historic presidential election has drawn to a
close. Amid high turnout and a tense mood in contested states, the
new executive seems to have received a major mandate. Now, more
than any other time in recent history, the pressure of the election
will follow Bush into the White House when he inevitably wins.
Indeed, the heat will intensify as he re-affirms his
responsibilities. In order to successfully live up to his mandate,
Bush must face up to the failures of the past four years and
rebuild consensus and credibility at home and abroad.

Before anything else, the president must reward voters for their
unprecedented turnout by fighting with full earnestness to
guarantee that all votes are fairly and competently counted. The
triumph of the 2004 election should be the triumph of democratic
suffrage. With dedicated stewardship, it can be exactly that.

Following closely with this responsibility is the need to
restore consensus. During the past four years, the president, his
administration and his party have acted with impunity. They have
done so at home by excluding Democrats from important political
debates and refusing to admit errors spanning a wide gamut from
budget deficits to intelligence. They have one so internationally
by refuse ing to properly negotiate with our allies and withdrawing
from major treaties. Bush, must work immediately to heal the rifts
caused by the past four years of his bad policy decisions.

He must invite both allies and dissenters to the bargaining
table to realize policy in a sensible and credible manner. Now more
than ever, our leadership — and the nation — cannot
afford to act alone.

Unfortunately, Bush faces a world of trouble, the legacy of his
first term. He faces the double-headed dragon of domestic and
international crises. He must act quickly to address the failures
and neglect of the past four years in order to guarantee the safety
and prosperity of the nation and the world. This means dramatically
reversing and revising policy in a variety of areas.

Domestically, Bush must act immediately to stabilize the budget
and reduce the nation’s staggering deficits. This means
permitting bipartisan cooperation concerning taxation and spending
policy. It also means Bush must reassess the tax code and reverse
the tax cuts for the wealthy. Fiscal competence is fundamental to
guarantee the solvency of the economy, and once again, Bush must
restore it after four years of destroying it.

Bush must work simultaneously on a variety of other issues
facing the nation. He must admit that the price of private
healthcare is jeopardizing the health of the economy and avert the
impending crisis caused by the inefficiency of the present system.
He must do so with the most powerful instrument at his disposal:
the federal government. He must also address the dramatic increases
in the cost of higher education, acting to make college affordable
for all Americans. The nation’s quality of life depends on
it.

In order to remain credible in the eyes of his electorate, Bush
needs to guarantee full transparency and disclosure concerning
issues of national concern. The days of secret energy task forces
and closed-door meetings with handpicked lawmakers must end.
Concurrently, Bush should move to dismantle the curtailment of
privacy rights enacted by the USA Patriot Act. The fundamental
freedoms of the American community — for citizens and
resident immigrants alike — are at stake.

Speaking of fundamental freedoms, Bush faces the tremendous
responsibility of protecting the rights of two major sectors of the
American population: women and the gay community. He must re-affirm
through direct action and judicial appointments a woman’s
fundamental right to an abortion. He must also take a stand against
the rising tide of exclusionary policy against gay marriage and
civil unions.

Along these lines, and forming a bridge between the nation and
the international community, is the need for intelligence reform.
Because our nation’s intelligence structure has not
sufficiently protected us, Bush must act deliberately yet
decisively, with the full consent of Congress, to restructure the
intelligence system in order to guarantee its effective
functioning.

Bush has not only inherited a nation in trouble — he has
inherited a world in crisis. The most pressing policy front, and
the principal failure of the past four years of foreign policy, has
been the war in Iraq. Bush has no choice but to work tirelessly
toward a multinational commitment to keeping the peace there. At
stake is the future of stability of the Middle East — and the
global community — as whole.

Bound up in the need for international stability is the
importance of re-affirming the strength of America’s
alliances. Bush must reverse the country’s drift away its
European allies and elsewhere and resume reasonable diplomatic
discourse. Along these lines, he must also reverse the precedent of
the past four years of national withdrawal from international
treaties. He must work to contain global nuclear proliferation. He
must act on the principle that American interests are
interdependent with global interests.

Domestically and internationally, Bush has inherited tremendous
responsibilities. He must rise to the challenge and act wisely.
Americans have turned out in high numbers to decide their
leadership, and Bush must live up to this mandate. The prosperity
and safety of the nation — and indeed the world —
depend on it.

 

— Faichney is an LSA senior and a member of the
Daily’s editorial board.

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