Though the 2004 election brought many different groups to the polls, it helped divide the country into Bush supporters and haters; pro-life and pro-choice, anti-gay marriage or pro-gay marriage and those for the war and those in opposition to it. These strong political rifts are problematic for MSU students that are concerned about life after the next four years. With Republicans in control of the presidency, the Senate and the House, the future for the nation hangs on these next four years and on which party can reach out to the majority of voters. And in an age where there’s a higher voter turnout in Iraq than in the United States, it may be a difficult task.
Individuals that are strongly against President Bush and his policies see him as a threat to everything they believe in. Those critical of Senator Kerry thought he needed to be more decisive and make an actual plan. According to Craig Laurie, a social relations junior in the James Madison College, the candidate and his platform will be the most important factors in the next presidential election. Whether or not you were a supporter of either of these two candidates or of various third-party contenders matters much less in a post-election nation. What matters is what will become of our country and our government, and this question is especially interesting for Democrats that have a decided disadvantage for the next four years.
[repub] “No one ever really does that great of a job,” Laurie said. If Bush coasts through his second term with a mindset of just doing a “good enough” job, Laurie thinks the Democrats will win in 2008. In another four years, Laurie predicts the race will “be candidate versus candidate, not party versus party.”
Dr. Kent Ames, an MSU professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine is currently taking part in the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Science Fellows Program, which pairs him with a U.S. Senator for a year in Washington, D.C. He has been matched with Sen. Gordon Smith, a Republican from Oregon. “When I asked [Smith] about 2008’s frontrunners, he named off Republicans Lott, Frisk and McCain easily,” Dr. Ames said. “Then I asked about Hillary [Clinton], and apparently [he said] she’d be an easy person to run against.” While Sen. Smith’s comment is biased to his party, as expected, it does illuminate the kind of opposition that Democrats and Republicans are in after the election.
Perhaps the candidate that can bring the country together, rather than dividing it by partisan preferences, will be the one who will win the next election. “If the Democrats can find the force that will unite the country, it may get them the vote,” he said of the 2008 race.
Economics sophomore Cole Freeman offered another suggestion for the underdog liberals to emerge victorious. “If the Democrats can somehow find a way to reach out to religious moderates, using their liberal ideas, they may have a chance at winning the election in 2008,” he said.
[dem] When Christian and religious-right groups played a key role in electing our current president, political trend spotters began proclaiming that the United States was growing more conservative. While one look at the current government could confirm this notion, it may be difficult to see living in a liberal college community. “Being on a college campus, it’s hard to tell,” said Dave Coogan, an international relations sophomore and a member of the MSU Republicans. “So I don’t know [whether the conservative movement is here to stay]. The whole idea of ‘red state’ is over-hyped. It’s a simplistic way to look at it.”
However, this does not mean that Democrats should give up and concede to a conservative future. History often works in cycles and it is probably a matter of time before a Democrat is in the White House. With the possibility of Gov. Howard Dean becoming the Democratic National Committee chair, the future remains cloudy still. “I don’t know if [the Democrats] will have a chance, then,” Coogan said. “But I’m sure they will rebound. Even now, Republicans are on a rebound after Clinton.”
A few divisive issues will influence the presence of the Republican Party in 2008. The war in Iraq will play a pivotal role in the people’s decisions. If Bush successfully handles the future of the war-torn country, and events play out rather peacefully, Republicans will have an advantage. If the war continues at its current violent pace, Democrats will likely receive a boost in voter support. The state of the economy will also help determine who is elected the next president. Whether it is a Democrat or a Republican in office, if the economy hits a low point, the president and his party will pay the price.
The challenge that faces President Bush now is to bring together the citizens of this country, as Kerry stated in his concession speech. After we have achieved a more ‘United’ States, we can look ahead to the next election, and prepare for another battle between factions. But from the fierce opposition we see today between the two parties, unity looks pretty grim from down here.

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