As Maureen McGovern memorably sang after another Most Important Presidential Election Of Our Lifetime, "There's got to be a morning after." And just like in 1972, Democrats woke up humiliated, Republicans rose jubilant, and advocates of limited government cast their eyes anxiously at a secretive second-term White House with a spotty track record on liberty.
Much has changed for the better these last 32 years, but the Morning After 2004 was still filled with unanswered questions about the legacy George Bush will leave. reason asked a variety of pundits, pols, and profs to tell us their biggest hopes and fears for the next four years. Their answers, given in late November, follow.
I Hope...We'll See Democracy in the Middle East
It's probably a relief that the Iraqis, or most Iraqis, will be around in the months ahead to remind the second Bush administration of its democratization promises. Although the United States has focused on creating an auspicious climate for Iraqi elections at the start of 2005, creating an open society in Iraq has been decidedly lower on the list of American priorities since security in the country has gone south.
Will Bush in his second term stiffen his back and again insist on making Iraqi democracy (assuming that phantom comes alive) a linchpin for regional pluralism, helping undermine the Islamist militancy that caused 9/11? One must hope so, since otherwise the Iraqi adventure will have been a spectacular waste of life. Echoes of Arab democracy can still be heard in Washington, even if the advent of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state promises the inert realism that allowed so many Arab autocrats to prosper--unless Bush orders the pliable doctor (who would rather call a duck a rhino than jeopardize her relationship with the president) to place democracy at the top of her lexicon.
Why should Iraqi democracy matter? Because, as Bush has haltingly recognized, liberty is not solely an American or Western concept; because in the Arab context it will mean more security for the U.S.; and because many Americans and many more Iraqis have already died in an endeavor that can yet be salvaged, unless the conviction of defeat grabs us by the throat first.
Contributing Editor Michael Young is opinion editor of Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper, which is printed and distributed throughout the Middle East.
I Fear...We'll See Empire in the Middle East
Without any change in the principles that currently guide United States foreign policy, the shuffling of per-sonnel from this post to that means little. As long as Congress and the American people continue to allow the president to ignore the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war, further military interventionism is inevitable. The only questions are how much further we can stretch our military without a draft, and how long before we go broke.
Without a reorientation of our foreign policy toward that envisioned by our Founding Fathers, the only thing that will end the current policies of preemption, foreign aid, and interventionism will be national bankruptcy. We cannot afford to maintain an empire, and all empires eventually fall.
Ron Paul is a Republican representing the 14th congressional district of Texas.
I Hope...the Constitution Will Make a Comeback