Nov 052008
Authors: Kia Makarechi

(U-WIRE) – The day has come, as they say. Barack Obama has been duly elected president of the United States. So, frankly, what now?

It seems as though the nation is breathing two sighs: On the left, the majority is breathing a sigh of relief, looking forward to what they see as four years of working with a man they’ve come to personify with the bold, Gotham-print words on his banners.

Hope. Change. Promise.

On the other side, a sizeable portion of our republic is breathing another sigh — exasperated and disbelieving. How could the rest of America be so gullible, so blithe in their convictions and so socialistically sympathetic? They see another set of words behind the 47-year-old they will begrudgingly call their president.

Taxes. Weakness. Value-less. Perhaps even dangerous.

What is the 44th president of the United States of America to do? Should he take the victory as a mandate to continue his campaign into the Oval Office, or should he see the division in the country as something that must be dealt with immediately?

An Obama administration must have two immediate plans: an attempt at national reconciliation and a commitment to the promises made during the campaign.

At first glance, these may appear to be mutually exclusive aims. After all, after angering your roommate because you really like eating in the bedroom, it seems tricky to then make him happy while still spilling crumbs on the floor by his bed.

Simply put, most of the conservative resentment that stigmatized Obama had little to do with his policy positions. Let’s think back to the election that just ended: What mud do we remember being flung at Obama?

His associations. Rumors. His “judgment.”

Obama’s task is thus not twofold but singular: build unity by staying true to the campaign promises.

In other words, do not raise taxes more than 3 percent. It will be hard for Obama to be seen as a socialist once businesses continue as usual and a striking majority of Americans see lowered taxes. Likewise, he must demonstrate maturity when dealing with sensitive issues such as abortion. He must explain to the American public the difference between his personal philosophy and his governing one. He must also make it clear that he will not appoint Supreme Court justices on a single-issue system.

The rest, it may follow, will actually fall into place.

After all, the president does not really directly deal with controversial issues. No matter how many people disagreed with President Bush’s socially conservative policies, these issues were only evident during Bush’s two Supreme Court justice nominations and confirmations.

Ending the war may prove controversial, though this may actually prove quite ironic. Obama’s promises of an end to the war in Iraq is complicated by his promises of locking down Afghanistan. This thus invites criticism from his “base,” liberals and moderates who want to see a quicker end to the conflicts.

Even if the war proves politically divisive, Obama can (and must) abate the unease by staying true to certain domestic promises.

One such pledge is of particular importance to students: the “American Opportunity Tax Credit.” On Obama’s campaign Web site, this policy promises a credit that “will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students.”

In exchange for this credit, the recipient will perform 100 hours of community service.

Obama must also stay true to promises of selecting a cabinet that reflects the political and interest diversity of this nation.

Perhaps come Inauguration Day, we can find our red, white and blue commonalities and join forces in a forward-thinking America, and perhaps Obama can take us there.

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