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Until every ballot in the battleground states is counted (and perhaps recounted), we can’t be sure whose name will grace the next four years of White House stationary. But as it stands, it looks like George W. Bush will win reelection to the presidency of the United States.
As the identity of America’s new leader hangs yet again on the results of a recount, we can’t shake the feeling that we’ve been here before. After the 2000 election, which Bush won by a bare and contested margin, we assumed that he would plot a moderate course for America. We hoped he would be what he’d promised to be: a uniter, not a divider. He wasn’t. The neo-conservative path he plotted for America led this country into the midst of a ruinous deficit and an environment of fear.
It may be hoping against hope, but we still have faith that Bush will choose to moderate his administration’s policies during his second term. We hope he will take a more responsible tack towards taxation, repealing or at least freezing tax cuts in order to pay off the massive deficit that this country is currently saddled with. We hope he will craft a workable strategy to win the peace in Iraq. We hope that he will choose to take measures to protect the environment and reduce global warming, instead of paying lip service to the natural bounty he will leave to younger generations. And we hope he will refrain from appointing Supreme Court justices who represent the views of a small subset of conservative Americans. Not everyone who voted for George W. Bush agreed with every one of his policies, and since it was again an extremely close election Bush cannot claim an unambiguous mandate.
Still, though we may be dismayed over the outcome of this election, the plain fact is that more people voted in 2004 than have in a long time. This election stimulated true debate about the future course of this country, with the two candidates outlining very different visions of America. By choosing the President’s vision, the American people may have committed this country to four more years of aggression, arrogance and fiscal irresponsibility. But at least the people have spoken. Democracies may not always make the right decisions, yet it is a central tenet of our form of government that we be allowed to make mistakes. If Bush does indeed ascend to the presidency for the next four years, we hope his tenure in office will prove that the American people have spoken wisely.
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