Whatever happened to “stay the course?” Prior to the 2006 midterm elections, the White House used this phrase combined with “cut and run” quite frequently. I remember the Republican Party accusing Democrats of supporting a policy of running away from the conflict by criticizing their refusal to accept the prospects of a war with no foreseeable end. Republican officials quickly buried the “stay the course” phrase after it became an ever-growing burden on their party. Americans had no interest in staying the course on any of the Republicans’ positions – including Iraq, our energy policy, health care or national security. Contrary to Elizabeth Niles’ belief that “conservative” governance is what’s needed to put this country back on track (“Republicans Must Return to Roots,” THE HOYA, Feb. 2, 2007, A3) it has long been evident to Americans that the Bush administration’s course for this nation has failed and is hardly conservative. At the very least, it is not the epitome of “small, responsible government.” Let’s take a look at the Republican record. On Jan. 1, 2006, the federal program known as Medicare Part D was initiated under the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act. First touted as a sweeping reform for American healthcare, its weaknesses were soon exposed through a series of hearings held by congressional Democrats. One part of the plan, which requires Part D subscribers to pay 100 percent of out-of-pocket costs after reaching $2,250 in total drug costs, is an inexcusable coverage gap that is devastating many Americans today. The language of Medicare is complex to the point where seniors often have trouble navigating the bureaucratic intricacies of our healthcare system. It is absurd to think that we may actually need the regular assistance of legal professionals to navigate our healthcare system, but that is the state we are in today. Here’s something that’s also scarcely mentioned: post-Katrina reconstruction efforts. Despite the president’s pledge to rejuvenate the Gulf Coast, it is clear that the incompetence and mismanagement of the administration has hindered efforts in rebuilding the recovering area. Eleven percent of the $19 billion spent by FEMA on Katrina-related reconstruction efforts have been squandered due to some form of abuse or waste, while thousands of families still wait for some semblance of permanent housing. I’m tempted to ask, where is our small, responsible government? I could continue to cite Republican blunders to demonstrate the administration’s failure to effectively respond to the issues that concern the American public ad nauseam, but my criticism of the president will have no bearing on how others view our commander in chief. Of course, there’s also the 300-pound gorilla known as the “war on terror” and its monstrously overweight cousin, the conflict in Iraq. Let me be clear: “stay the course” is not a plan, and “cut and run” is not the proposed strategy of the Democratic Party. What the president proposes is not a surge, but an escalation. It is a diversionary tactic to press for more time. Sending additional troops into Anbar province and Baghdad is not the ultimate solution that will lead us to victory. The situation in Iraq cannot be solved by military means alone; it requires regional diplomacy to help quell the insurgency and to allow for a sustainable democratic government to remain in Iraq. When a president’s strategy for such a situation is to add more troops, his strategy is tantamount to indecision. This is worse than what Republicans might call cowardly retreat. If the president opts to begin phased redeployment of our troops and the process of handing over the security process to the Iraqis, his decision will not be considered dangerous and cowardly, but an honorable choice in which he heeds the words of his constituency: the American people. As long as we’re resurrecting catchphrases from the 2006 midterm elections, Nancy Pelosi put it best, “stay the course is not a strategy, it’s a slogan.” Whether we’d like to admit it or not, partisanship is tearing this country apart, and voters are increasingly becoming disenfranchised by both parties. The “far left” may be partially responsible, but the “far right” is also at fault. Stubbornly refusing to cede political and ideological ground will lead us in the wrong direction.

Andrew Kim is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service.

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