Recent days have brought plenty to celebrate. But once
all the grand soirees are over and the post-election
fanfare subsides, a cold splash of reality will hit
us when we realize just how much work the president-elect
has cut out for him in these next four (eight) years.
Cleaning up Bushs mess is no easy task. In case
its too overwhelming to begin, let me suggest
a few areas to start with.
1. Close Guantanamo
Can you fathom a country that snatches people right
off the sidewalk in broad daylight, then dumps them
in a prison camp halfway around the world, where they
sit for as long as seven years? Worse yet, they arent
charged with an actual crime and have no right to a
fair, civilian trial?
Well, you dont need to stretch your imagination
thats precisely what the United States
is doing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Figures from around
the world heads of states, religious leaders,
the UN and others have called on us to end this
despicable abuse of human rights, and its time
we do so. We have a Constitution in this country for
a reason - lets get back to following it. The
Bill of Rights applies to everyone, not just a select
2. Fix the immigration system
Our diversity is, in my opinion, one of the things that
make America unique. Nowhere else will you find the magnitude
of cultural pluralism we have in our society. But as immigrants
try to continue this great tradition of diversity, they
are finding it impossibly difficult to become full Americans,
thanks to our ridiculously arduous immigration process.
It is outrageous that people who have been living here
and would like to become citizens sometimes must wait
over a decade to finally be naturalized.
Moreover, many people who entered the country undocumented
years ago have since become contributing members of
their community and model citizens for Americans of
all statuses. Wouldnt it make sense to let them
stay here, rather than removing the people who are among
those most appreciative of the opportunities America
3. Follow the law
A hallmark of the Bush administrations reign was
a contempt for rules, an attitude particularly rampant
among the FBI, CIA, NSA and the rest of that alphabet
soup. Warrantless wiretapping, secret renditions, even
torture nothing was off limits for the government,
which violated domestic and international laws and was
undeterred by concepts like due process and habeas corpus.
Bush seems to agree with Nixons philosophy, When
the president does it, that means its not illegal.
But Obama the constitutional scholar will remember that
no one is above the law, not even the powerful.
This country wont magically rebound overnight,
but by starting here, well certainly be on our
way to restoring this nation to what it once was.