And so, after a year of politics and months of hardcore campaigning, we have reelected a president.
It was relieving to be able to say that the day after the election. We may have had to wait quite a few hours before knowing the election results, but the process was smoother than the one in 2000, and for that, we are all grateful.
The long lines of voters at the UM Convocation Center, in polling sites around Florida and throughout the country were inspiring. Even the most cynical of voters was excited to see citizens involved in politics. The air was undeniably charged on Tuesday, and we enjoyed the buzz.
Now comes the hard part.
After a political season marked by negative campaigning and mudslinging in both national and state races, the nation must regroup and unite. As heartening as it was to see voters flock to the polls on Tuesday, it was discouraging that people were often voting not for their party, their candidate or their issues but against the other party or candidate with anger and disdain. As we readjust to life without political ads on TV, we need to put aside our angry partisan biases for the good of the country. Wednesday was the day to celebrate or to be disappointed. Thursday was time, putting it bluntly, to get over it.
Those that voted for Sen. John Kerry should not give up their ideas or causes. It is undoubtedly a setback to lose the presidency and some seats in the House and Senate, especially after a rough and draining period of campaigning, but it would be worse for those that oppose the government to fade into the shadows. Now that one party controls the presidency and both chambers of Congress, the role of the opposition will be vital in bringing up differing points of view in the legislative process and ensuring that the minority’s opinion be heard.
Moreover, the stereotypes of student apathy that we defied these past few months should not be allowed to resurface just because Nov. 2 has passed. There are other elections to look forward to and be informed for, other bills we should be aware of, and constantly emerging issues that we need to debate.
The task for the president and the Republican legislators is to bring together a fractured electorate. Historically, presidents have had many achievements in their second terms, when they are not burdened by the looming campaign for reelection. President Bush will govern-for the first two years of his second term, at least-with a Republican Senate and House. This should make it easier for him to pass legislation and complete his projects, but he must be careful to do so without alienating the 48 percent of the country that voted for Kerry and the one percent that voted for Ralph Nader. In 2000, the president ran as “a uniter, not a divider,” a label he wore in the months following Sept. 11 but he has sometimes strayed from at other times. Now would be a good time to revert to that unifying role.
If this election was, in fact, as critical as it was billed to be before Nov. 2-as the most important one in our lifetimes-then the next four years may bring significant changes to the country and the world. Issues, legislation and policies are bound to come up that will affect all of us, stir our emotions and force us to choose sides. We will look towards our leadership to represent us-all of us-and guide us honestly and humbly.