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Bush's term of office to be difficult at best

Jan. 19, 2001

When President-elect George W. Bush takes the oath of office Saturday, he will be assuming the presidency under very difficult circumstances. More people in the country voted for Vice President Al Gore on Nov. 7, making Bush only the third man to become president without receiving a plurality of the votes cast. All of those men were one-term presidents, and two of them were defeated by the candidate that received the highest number of votes in the previous election. Despite Bush lacking the 'will of the people,' there is controversy over whether or not he actually legitimately won the Electoral College because of the chaos in Florida. In addition, the Congress is basically split down the middle between party lines. Add to this the plans of plenty of protests to spoil the inauguration, and it is apparent that Bush's presidency could get off to a very rocky start.

In order to be successful and accomplish his agenda, Republican Bush must be able to compromise with Democrats in Congress, or the next few years will be nothing but gridlock. On the bright side, in Texas, Bush has a record of bringing Democrats and Republicans together to support his legislation. This was the major reason he was so successful and popular as governor of Texas. But wooing Congressional Democrats to his side will not be as easy it was with the conservative Democrats in the Texas Legislature. Bush did not get a mandate from the American people -- he did not even get the most number of votes -- so he must be sure to govern from the center and not the right. If Bush goes for a massive tax cut, privatization of Social Security and health care and pushes for school vouchers, he will have a tough time not only in Congress, but also in the realm of public opinion.

However, if he governs from the center and pushes for legislation that will please the plurality of people who did not vote for him and he compromises well with Congress, his administration could be seen as a great success -- one that brought the country together after such bitter divisions surfaced. But if he does not do these things and governs as though there was a mandate for his conservative agenda, his presidency may fail and last just one term.