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The Great Divider
January 31, 2004
By Bryan M. Russell

When George W. Bush ascended to the Presidency he pledged to unite Americans together regardless of their party affiliations. In the nearly four years of his presidency Bush has done the exact opposite. Because of his arrogant foreign policy, ridiculous domestic policy, and complete and utter disregard for the environment, Bush has caused this nation to become bitterly divided, something we haven’t seen since the Vietnam War.

The bitter division Bush has created within our country during his tenure as President culminated in this year’s State of the Union address, which showed a very divided Congress, with Republicans applauding and cheering for everything that came out of the President’s mouth, while the Democrats stayed in their seats and grimaced. Right wingers in this country parallel many of the Republicans in Congress. Bush is allowing people’s constitutional rights to be thrown out the window by installing the Patriot Act? They stand and applaud. Bush is trying to weaken the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and attack the environment in every way possible? They cheer louder. They hear that the President has contributed to the loss of 3 million jobs in his short tenure and has moved many more to places like China and India and they shout for joy. Perhaps the real problem in our great division is the fact that conservatives rarely take off their Bush-blinders for a moment and try to see how horribly this administration has failed us, as Americans, in a variety of categories. I am thankful that my fellow Democrats, many Independents, and quite a few fed-up Republicans have been able to open their eyes and see George W. Bush for what he really is.

Bush has failed us, the American people, in many ways. The first, and probably the most notable failure was the war in Iraq. We were told that the reason our troops would be invading Iraq was because Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction that he planned to use on his enemies, including us. Many Americans, including myself, heard these dangers and quickly supported the war, until a few months later when the WMD were still unable to be found. Now, inspectors have given up hope of finding any WMD; they are simply not there. So basically, the Bush campaign greatly exaggerated the threat of Iraq and its weapons program and lied to the American people to enhance his own agenda and personal vendetta to capture Saddam Hussein. Now the administration has switched the focus of Iraq, to “capturing Saddam Hussein, who was a really bad guy”, when the original focus was disabling the WMD that Hussein was supposedly very anxious to use against us. There are many “bad guys” in the world, so I guess since we go around spending billions of dollars per country rescuing poor souls from “bad guys” we should just ignore the real “bad guys” who crashed into our buildings and killed thousands of our countrymen. This is exactly what the Bush administration is doing. There is a difference between a possible threat (Hussein) and an actual threat (Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda). The logical progression would be to disable Bin Laden and Al Qaeda completely first and then proceed, with the help of the United Nations and other nations, to Saddam Hussein. But you can’t count on George W. Bush to think logically.

George W. Bush’s arrogant foreign policy has alienated us from nearly every other nation in the world. To Bush, it’s “us against them”, Americans versus every Muslim on the face of the planet. Plus he showed an utter disregard for the help of other countries and the United Nations, instead plunging us into war without a set plan to help restore Iraq after America had overthrown the regime. Bush’s policies here at home are also highly questionable. Millions of jobs have been lost since Bush took office and his recent pardon for illegal immigrants has many Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, outraged. Bush likes to act like he is tough on national security, yet he proposed opening up our borders and dressed it up as a worker program. If Bush’s twin daughters went to school in Brownsville instead of New Haven and Austin, I doubt he would even consider this program. Yet, Bush is content to live in his middle of WASP-ville ranch in Crawford and doesn’t really feel like venturing anywhere near the border to see what life there is like on a daily basis. This program is also a slap in the face to immigrants who actually worked and came to this country legally.

The third issue many Americans are divided on involves the environment. George W. Bush will be remembered as the worst American President on environmental issues in the history of our country. Since he came into office, he’s looked out for his buddies in big business and attacked every single bit of environmental legislation ever passed. He proposed reshaping the Clean Air Act so it would allow polluting companies more loopholes for their emissions standards and has attacked the Clean Water Act, proposing to cut back from looking out for our non-navigable rivers and streams, which would allow polluters to have leeway into our nation’s isolated wetlands. Bush called his redone Clean Air Act plan the “Clear Skies Initiative” once again misleading the American people. Then again, perhaps letting power plants triple their toxic mercury emissions and double their sulfur emissions into the atmosphere is his idea of a “clear sky.”(Let us not forget that Houston became the nation’s most polluted city in 1999 and 2000 under a certain Texas governor’s watch) Bush also helped out his big industry pals by encouraging mountain top removal mining in Appalachia and other areas around the country. This process would allow big mining companies to reduce their waste cleanup costs greatly by simply blowing off the tops of mountains and dumping the millions of tons of waste and rock into streams and rivers below. Previously, the companies had to remain a certain number of feet away from the rivers, yet Bush wants the mining companies to simply dump all of the waste right into the rivers, reducing costs and terminating the waterway’s flow completely.

This country will remain divided until we can find a President who doesn’t cater to one side and alienate the other entirely. What America needs is a President who will build one America, not two separate entities within America. This nation needs a President who will stand up for people who keep losing jobs every single day. This nation needs a President who will strive to protect the constitutional rights of Americans from all walks of life, from all races, belief systems, backgrounds, and sexual orientations. We need a President who will earn the respect of other nations across the globe, not shun them for personal interests. For the sake of America, let’s elect someone in 2004 who can unite us and not divide us.

 
Bryan M. Russell is a junior in high school who is also a freelance political and sports writer. Send him your questions and comments at bmrcane@comcast.net.

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