MYERS: A whole new agenda

Charles Myers

It’s over. Finally. After nearly two years, hundreds of millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of volunteer hours, almost 112 straight weeks of manufactured scandals mixed with serious campaign issues and weeks upon weeks of slander, we finally have a president-elect and a new Congress to go with him.

Our new president will have to face a series of challenges. From the crisis in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan to the continuing war in Iraq, to the challenges currently battering our economy to the continuing quest for liberation from oil, our president will have to run the gauntlet.

How did we get here? It would be so easy to blame the idiot man-child from Texas – who while running for president in 2000 promised to be a “uniter” not a “divider” and who chastised President Clinton for allowing oil to cost $40 per barrel – but such an action would be an oversimplification of a situation only partially caused by that overly simple man.

For, in the dance of legislation, it takes a majority in both houses of Congress to tango.

For much of the first two years, a hostile Senate kept some of the more offensive ideas of the president in check, but after 9/11 things changed – and not for the better. First we saw the passage of the Patriot Act, which cracked down on Americans basic civil liberties on a level not seen since the McCarthy era in the name of fighting against money-laundering (and terrorism). Yes, that first bit was the bill’s supposed purpose; and no, that was not what the overwhelming majority of the bill dealt with.

Then, following a mid-term rebuke of the “obstructionist” Democrats, the Congress ceased to act independently. When the president said “jump” our Congress asked, “How high?” When our president decided that trying to pay off the national debt was a bad idea, Congress said, “Of course it is.”

When a wasteful and ineffective program – like abstinence-only sex education, which study after study showed to be ineffective – was backed by our president, our Congress gave it all the funding it needed. When there was a successful program that our President didn’t approve of – like SCHIP – our Congress couldn’t muster a veto-proof majority.

When our president said, “Let’s attack Iraq,” our Congressional “moderates” were convinced. Apparently a country that had no economy somehow managed to develop biological weapons facilities more advanced than any of which we even dared to dream. A good deal of our population was convinced, too.

Our complacent Congress also confirmed Alberto “Alzheimer’s-Defense” Gonzales to the office of attorney general. When asked about his conduct and the conduct of his department in the political hirings and firings of several U.S. attorneys – including one who was let go because she refused to pursue a case for political reasons – Gonzales couldn’t remember a single thing. Rather than muscling up the spine to investigate further, Congress did nothing.

Now we have found ourselves in quite a mess, and our new president and Congress will have to come together to pull us out of it. We don’t have the luxury of partisanship now: we need the most competent people in the Cabinet, and the best ideas should be enacted, regardless of their ideological origins.

Hopefully, our new president and Congress will act accordingly.

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Charles Myers is a junior political science, history and philosophy triple major from Elkins Park, Pa. He can be reached at [email protected]