New Era of Accountability Sweeps Washington

El Vaquero Features Editor

A patriot or a terrorist; with us or against us; whose side are you on? That was once the feeling of the president and the majority of Americans when it came to the war on terror, the war in Iraq and the current administration, but not anymore.

The people of the United States have stood up and demanded that changes be made. On Nov. 7, the voters made that change when the Democratic Party was voted into the majority in both the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.

Continuing with the trend of change, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced his decision to step down (or was it a push down) on Nov. 8, a move that many people had hoped would occur for some time now.

Changes are taking place whether or not President George W. Bush wants them. This will be the first time in 12 years that Congress has been under Democratic control and will also be the first time that a female, Nancy Pelosi (nine-term Congresswoman from San Francisco), holds the prestigious position of Speaker of the House and will be second in line to the presidency.

While it was a close race in many states, who would have thought that it would come down to Virginia deciding the majority of the Senate?

John Kerry’s little faux pas did not seem to affect the Democrats as much as the Republicans were hoping it would.

While Phil Angelides did lose, it could not have been blamed on Kerry — not when the loss to Arnold Schwarzenegger was so substantial.

Plus with the Governator’s move toward the middle of the political spectrum and effectively pulling most, if not all, of Angelides’ platforms out from under him, it is hard to see how Schwarzenegger could lose.

But why the drubbing on the Congressional level? Why did so many people vote for Democratic candidates? The GOP’s surprise is understandable when you take into consideration that we have an excellent economy, a very healthy stock market and an extremely low unemployment rate.

Why would the people suddenly remove the political party in power when they have caused these great things for our country? What could have possibly been the key issues that led to this enormous change in Congress?

The war in Iraq seems to be a large part of the answer. In the president’s press conference on Nov. 8, he said that while Iraq was a factor he did not take this as Americans wanting to accept defeat.

“I’d like our troops to come home too, but I want them to come home with victory,” said Bush in response to a question about bringing troops home.

Exactly what victory or defeat was he speaking of? Is it victorious to have 2,800 dead soldiers and more than 21,000 wounded ones? How about more than 600,000 dead Iraqis?

No. The people of this country have cried out for an end to this needless bloodshed and loss of life.

What about the war on terror? Where did it go? The president seems to talk a lot about the war on terror, but the military is not really fighting that war, at least not in Iraq.

The Democrats (many of whom are conservative) who are heading to Capitol Hill are expected to hold investigations on the war and to start holding people, especially those in positions of power, accountable.

They are also expected to bring about a new direction for the war in Iraq, as promised.

Will the possible appointment of Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense help with that new direction?

Possibly; Gates is a former director of the CIA and was deputy national security adviser under former President George H.W. Bush. It has been said that he was opposed to Bush going into Iraq during the Gulf War and has been a member of a bipartisan commission examining options in Iraq.

Is that why, on the heels of the election, Bush announced Rumsfeld’s decision to step down? Only a week prior to the election, he said that he was sticking with Rumsfeld for the duration of his term as president.

Speculations abound. Was this something that was on the backburner just in case the GOP lost control of Congress? Why wasn’t this done prior to the election? This could have been something that might have turned the tide for the GOP. Answers, however, are as usual, vague and vaguer.

The president was disappointed by the outcome of the election, as if he had expected it to be vastly different. This is unusual, seeing as he has the lowest overall job approval rating: a whopping 31 percent since he has been in the oval office. Not to mention the $8 trillion deficit he has managed to accumulate.
Then there is the fact that some of the conservative good old boys were causing serious scandals.

Who wants to invite Mark Foley to a Boy Scouts’ meeting? Anyone want their phones secretly tapped? How about we break all codes of military conduct and human decency and torture people in places like Guantanamo Bay?

The United States government was meant to be ruled by checks and balances; this is not what has been happening in the last six years.

It is time for the Democrats to put away their iPods, chess tables and decks of cards and start making the decisions that they were elected to make. The decisions that are for the good of all people, not just the privileged few.

Remember, the whole world is watching.