In the run up to the American presidential election we asked a panel of voters to share their views and predictions. Here they give their reaction to the final result.
New York, New York
San Diego, California
MEET THE PANEL
Name: Neil Sherman
Lives: Germantown, Tennessee
Works: Retired naval officer, Presbyterian minister
Voted: Previously undecided, voted Bush
In 10 words or less:
"Husband, father of six, grandfather of 17, soccer fan"
Since I voted for George Bush, I was happy to see him win the election but with some misgivings.
I was very unsure. But I made my decision.
Here is the good news. We had a record turnout to vote in the US. Hopefully, the turnout will be even better next time.
Bush won the popular vote and there was little controversy.
It always amazes me how we can have such differences and still elect someone without violence and in secrecy.
The system works and every two years as I vote I am so thankful to be a US citizen.
I look forward to seeing President Bush get our troops out of Iraq. The mission needs to be finished.
I think the greatest lesson learned from this terrible time is that the US cannot police the world.
I would hope the president moves to a more moderate stance in both our domestic and foreign policies.
I also look forward to new faces in the administration.
As for Tennessee, the state voted pretty much as expected - Republican. There were no surprises.
I thought it was interesting that we had foreign poll observers this time. What is good for developing democracies is good for the established democracies.
I'm looking forward to a good future! I'm glad I participated in this panel. I think it has helped me.
Send us your comments on Neil's views using the form below.
I'm not sure whether most Americans who voted for Bush know, or care, but those of us outside the US who are fond of the country and believe that it has had a largely positive influence on the world are watching current developments with barely disguised anguish. Perhaps many Americans believe that those who criticise Bush abroad are the usual America-hating suspects, and in some cases they'd be right. But the feeling extends much further than that. Bush's moral values look very much like religious fanaticism from the other side of the Atlantic. The affection for America in Europe is being rapidly eroded, and you need to be aware of this.
David Pritchard, Madrid, Spain
It amazes me that people voted Bush, then hope he adopts the policies of his opponent. The American people have given him a mandate to invade more countries should he want to, and to have less respect for Europe and the UN, not more. This election, including your vote Neil, shows that Bush can make the US the world's policeman and gain domestic approval for it. This is the sad truth about this election, that the population views both parties as they were 20 years ago and does not care what actions they actually take.
Adam, Amherst, MA, USA
Most of the people, it seems, who supported Bush aren't even certain as to why they supported him. Or what he's going to do in the future. Why elect a leader when you're not certain what he's going to do for the country?
James Kenworthy, White Plains, NY, USA
I understand what Mr Sherman is saying. Most people I know want better relationships with other countries, but I get the sense by reading European media specifically that the US is expected to come back to the European perspective rather than meeting the US halfway. From the perspective of the majority of Americans, nothing but criticism seems to come from across the Atlantic. It seems very likely that the Atlantic wedge will continue to get deeper.
Chaise Camp, Houston, Texas, USA
Neil, you took a wise approach on this election, and carefully took the time to understand all sides. In comparison to the other members on this panel, you are a model for rationality, critical thinking, and tact - and I commend you for that. If all voters took the time to educate themselves with an open mind, we wouldn't be in such a sad state today. Hold on to that optimism, we're going to need it these next couple of years.
Steve Anthony, Raleigh, NC, USA
A good future? All I see are four long years of anguish and suffering. I see an aftermath of hate and depression and a tomorrow that's dark and faded. I am a senior in high school, and this should not be my world. My cousins and friends are fighting overseas. It is my generation that is dying. Democracy is wasted on the older generation. Would it have been better if Kerry won the election? No, I think not. We could have definitely used a change though.
Jessie Mia, Nantucket, MA, USA
I totally agree with Neil's views. I was a Democrat but I switched this year. I don't agree with the Democrats any more. I'm putting all of my faith in the Lord. Now our country has a chance. Now I believe we will get the right judges in. Thank God we have a religious president.
Shirley Rencher, Caddo, Oklahoma, USA
I do not understand why Neil is looking forward to a "good future". He has misgivings on Bush, wants the troops out of Iraq, thinks the US cannot police the world and looks forward to new faces in the administration. Yet he voted for Bush. I am confused.
Dean Bainbridge, Cardiff, Wales
I have followed the progress of voters' views with great interest. Like most foreigners, I am deeply distressed with the outcome of the election, and therefore disagree with Neil's selection. Nevertheless, I would still like to thank Neil as a lifelong Republican for having approached this election with an open mind and thoughtfully considered the issues. At first glance it would appear that Middle America is full of narrow minded right wing religious fundamentalists, but with people like Neil around we can have some hope.
Barry Jones, Hong Kong
I agree with Neil. Given all other theoretical alternatives, Bush was not a slam-dunk choice for me. I've sometimes thought about how there must be people of leadership quality who would be better than Bush. I just don't think Kerry was it. Some serious things have happened in Iraq that this administration didn't anticipate, and in hindsight, it seems like they should've anticipated some of what's happened. Had they been anticipated it's possible we'd be getting our troops out sooner. But who knows. I can't help but draw some parallels between our struggle with "Islamic" terrorism, and the states that support it, and the fascists we were fighting against in World War II. In that case, we and our allies spent 10 years rehabilitating and reshaping Japan and Germany after the war was over.
Some of that no doubt was due to fighting those who resisted our intervention. Given the choices we had in this election, it was clear for me. I am optimistic about the future as well. I think the economy will continue to improve. I would love to think that through the strength of our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, we could bring other nations like Syria, Iran, and North Korea to heel without war so that we don't have to kill others, and have our own people killed. We must continue to push for the day when they are no longer threats to their neighbours, and us by extension. However I think that military action still must be an option on the table until that day comes. Unfortunately I don't think the leaders of these countries will listen to diplomacy without it. As Truman said, "Speak softly, but carry a big stick."
Mark Miller, Boulder, CO, USA
I respect Mr Sherman's comments, and find them reasonable and understanding. However, I do not think that Bush will become more moderate this term. One can hope, as Mr Sherman does, but it seems clear now that with Republicans having firm control of both Houses and the ability to replace at least three Supreme Court Justices, this country will experience a profound shift to the religious right in terms of policy. Very simply, Bush has nothing to stand in his way - he clearly has his mandate. Just by looking at some of the new senators elected, the shift to the right in this country greatly frightens me. Will there be a constitutional ban of gay marriage, a reversal of Roe v. Wade, a more visible coming together of church and state? I think it is highly probable. And I am frightened.
Ben Haley, South Hadley, USA
At last! A man with the guts to tell it like it is. I respect your choice though I don't agree with it, but you obviously considered it very carefully and acknowledged the failings on Mr Bush. I also respect your view on the poll observers. If American chooses to impose democracy rightly or wrongly on other countries, it had damn right better get it right at home.
Tayo Segun, London, UK
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