Jan 192009
Authors: Ian Bezek

With the presidency of George Bush mercifully ending today, it’s easy to be excited for the future. Even among those of us who didn’t vote for Obama, there is a strong sense of optimism that a new day has dawned in America.

However the success of the Obama presidency is not yet assured; there are a few things Obama needs to do to ensure his time will be remembered favorably.

The first thing, and possibly most important is, for Obama to realize his election did not give him a mandate to be as liberal as his backers might wish. A large number of Obama voters were voting against McCain, Bush and the Republicans; Obama needs to stick to the political center and unify the country.

President Bush promised us responsible moderate rule, yet after taking office, he started unleashing extremist religious fundamentalism upon the nation. The Democrats now have the opportunity to govern; hopefully they will lead the whole nation and not just the factions of it that support their ideology.

While the Republicans used issues such as gay marriage and social security to polarize the nation, Obama has campaigned on bringing us together – he needs to stick to this and govern moderately, a swing to the hard left will greatly damage his ability to bring the change we need.

Clearly, one area where there will be changes is in the economy. By far the most important topic to the electorate this campaign — the economy — paved the way for Obama’s victory.

We do need changes in the economy. The government made great fanfare about stepping up regulation and enforcing laws but accomplished little under Bush’s leadership.

The presidents of several major American banks should be in jail for the fraud they’ve committed and homeowners they’ve exploited. The Enron style accounting that continues to be utilized at many unscrupulous firms across the economy also needs to be stopped.

The functioning of our economy and financial markets depend on trust, and the actions of certain companies, combined with the lackadaisical enforcement of our laws have broken that trust.

President Obama can start the restoration of confidence in our economy with calm and measured steps to bring justice to the wrongdoers while giving responsible companies the chance to succeed.

The Bush administration’s package of bailouts, stimulus checks and law changes was not created in a calm or measured manner; instead it was a frenetic, often contradictory, jumble of actions that have scared businessmen and investors alike causing further erosion in the economy. Every new desperate measure revealed to an even greater degree how out of control the crisis had gotten.

Obama can change the tone of the crisis by reacting calmly and logically to the problems that arise.

President Bush was a pox upon the financial markets. Every time he spoke, the stock market declined further.

So far, Obama’s speeches and press conferences have appeared to reassure investors and bolster confidence in our financial system. Though he has little experience, if Obama can prove that he understands the situation and is calm and in control, we can escape this economic morass much more quickly.

Finally, Obama needs to deliver on his pledge of better foreign policy.

Foreigners rightly have a very low opinion of America at present. A more peaceful humble America that leaves Iraq and shows ethical neutrality in the Middle East will restore our standing in the world.

President Bush viewed diplomacy as an afterthought; Obama must restore our ability to affect change in the world without using our armies and missiles.

If Obama can repair our reputation with the world while being a calming and unifying force in social and economic matters, he will be a successful president and we will be able to begin to forget the horrendous legacy of Bush.

Ian Bezek is a junior economics major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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