Bush II: Views from inside and outside the Beltway
The mandate of the middleSkip to next paragraph
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President-elect George Walker Bush has a historic opportunity to lead the nation based on the real mandate the American people have sent to Washington: a mandate of the middle.
It is a mandate to heal wounds and reach across party lines, to bring into his government authentic voices of the loyal opposition, and to ask of the opposition an equally authentic spirit of cooperation to govern from the center.
We might look to the brothers and sisters in the Senate to help in this venture. Who isn't moved by the spirit of patriotism, independence, and respect shown by the Senate war heroes who soar above party lines and regard each other as brothers in arms in service to the country? John Kerry and John McCain, Chuck Hagel and Max Cleland embody a spirit of mutual respect and political independence that is a model for patriotic Americans translating heroism in war to civic duty in public life.
Similarly, one of the most influential groups in government will be the women of the Senate, representing diverse backgrounds.
These stateswomen embody the highest ideal of achievement and a spirit of community far wiser than the tribal political warfare they have risen above. Relationships between leaders such as Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R) are not only models of cooperation in public service but also represent a can-do spirit that is as important as ever.
Brent Budowsky is a Washington-based entrepreneur, and was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D) of Texas.
A leap across the 'grand canyon'
The past eight years - no matter which side of the fence they're viewed from - show old divides dramatically deepened and new ones created.
My friend Charlene brought down the wrath of her entire family when she expressed her opinion that our impeached president was not worthy of his office. Come to think of it, my own in-laws haven't been too happy with my husband and me for 13 years - since we stopped subscribing to Mother Jones and picked up National Review.
And if the Clinton era has carved a grand canyon between liberals and conservatives, the past six weeks have pushed a few over the edge - into hyperbole and hatred. Jesse Jackson compares Miami to Selma and the Supreme Court's decision to Dred Scott. My son's high school teacher (an attorney, no less) calls George W. Bush a "scumbag" in class, without apology. Well-coiffed women in expensive SUVs holler obscenities at my husband as they zoom by. His crime? A Bush sticker on his truck.
I want to say to them, "You know, we all tuck in our children every night and hope for a better world. We all laugh when we're happy and cry when we're sad. Most of us try hard to be the best we can be."
Whether you voted for Bush or Gore, for vouchers or none, whether you're gay or straight, pro-abortion or pro-life, I know if we sat down for a few minutes and talked, we might actually find things we like about each other.
Barbara Curtis is a freelance writer in Petaluma, Calif.
The lessons of Hayes-Tilden
The disputed Hayes-Tilden election of 1876 makes 2000 pale by comparison. It was truly filled with corruption, conspiracies, and near civil war.
The critics notwithstanding, the relative success of President Rutherford B. Hayes's administration flowed from a back-room deal. A Republican three-time governor and former Union major general, Mr. Hayes took into his Cabinet a moderate Southern Democrat, Sen. David Key of Tennessee. A former Confederate colonel and strong supporter of Democratic candidate Samuel Tilden, Senator Key was given the powerful patronage position of postmaster general.
Hayes ended federal occupation of the South, eliminated most of the corruption of the Grant administration, and introduced civil-service reform. With Key's help in the Congress, he led from the center.
Hayes opted not to run for a second term, but his candidate, James Garfield, won.
Samuel Tilden, the loser who probably won, displayed a high level of character. He discouraged the war-like Democratic governors, marchers in the streets, and a congressional filibuster. He avoided a second civil war and did what Hayes called for in his inaugural. He placed the country ahead of party. There are lessons here for both George W. Bush and Al Gore and for the new Congress.
David M. Abshire is president of the Washington-based Center for the Study of the Presidency.
One important task: reaching out to minorities