In the run up to the 2004 American presidential election we asked a panel of voters to share their views and predictions ahead of the outcome. Here, on Inauguration Day, they look ahead to President George W Bush's second term.
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 his re-election, President Bush has been saddled with a number of resignations from his administration.
He has acted decisively in replacing his losses and has made good choices for their replacements.
I like the diversity of people he has added. We as a nation of people from many backgrounds must have a government that reflects our diversity.
I think the reshuffling of the cabinet is complete. His new team is now on board.
I really don't see any departures in the near future, although I think Donald Rumsfeld will probably leave at some point before 2008.
My number one hope for his second term is that we get out of Iraq. I doubt that anything good can ever come out of our intervention.
But my biggest fear is that if we do get out, the country will break down into civil war.
I expect President Bush will push forward with his desire to remake social security and revamp the income tax system.
I also hope he will work in a more bipartisan manner. Despite Republican majorities in both houses of Congress I would like to see a more inclusive approach.
I think the administration will also try to mend fences in Europe over the next four years.
I don't expect any military intervention during the second term. We may have learned our lesson with Iraq.
Ideally, I would like to see this country help the poor, work for debt relief and work to end the ethnic strife that seems to plague Africa. We could do so much good in the world.
Neil. It was refreshing to hear your compassionate and outward-looking perspective. From what I have read from various forums, I get the general impression that most Republicans are very inward-looking and don't really consider themselves as part of a World Community. I also get the impression that Republicans generally hate the citizens of pretty much every country in the World outside of the USA (Europeans, Canadians, Arabs, Palestinians, Chinese, Japanese, UN, Kyoto, etc...). Thank you for showing me that a compassionate element exists within Republicanism too.
Pete, Leeds, UK
I hope that Neil's right about no further military intervention in the next four years, but the "re-defining" of what constitutes torture, the proposed extensions to the McCarthy-esqe Patriot Act and the way in which key members of this administration are sniffing around Iran makes me believe that the neo-cons are after enriching themselves personally with another lovely little war at our expense while they continue to line their pockets with government contracts. Fear sells as well as ever, it seems. Where did the America of my youth go?
Susan Matthews, Flint, Michigan, USA
Neil doesn't seem to support the Iraq war at all or Bush's indifference to the billions of poor people around the world. And yet he voted for Bush. It appears that many traditional people in the south would be open to more progressive leadership from the left, if only the American left knew how to speak to traditional, conservative southerners. It is too late now however. The damage has been done.
Andrew Nowicki, Washington D.C.
Neil, just why did you vote Republican? Your hopes seem more in line with the Democrat ticket on Iraq, international cooperation, inclusiveness, help for the poor and disadvantaged etc. As for learning any lessons in Iraq. Wasn't one of the big lessons from Vietnam that democracy can't be enforced from the barrel of a gun? I think you had another agenda for voting Republican.
Clive, Milwaukee, USA
Neil gives Bush far more credit than I do! His disastrous, illegal war against Iraq is creating not only a civil war in a very volatile part of the world but is also creating a black hole of debt that this nation will be lucky to recover from. His domestic agenda will only further divide the nation between the rich and poor, old and young. His religious, end-of-days beliefs seem to be telling him to just go for whatever his supporters want and damn the consequences.
Pat Young, Mt. Vernon WA USA
I don't really see any 'diversity' in his cabinet. Variation of skin color doesn't necessarily equate diversity of thought. It seems odd to me that you chose to support Bush, yet you hope for the US to help Africa and "do good in the world". I hope you realize that the only time this seems to happen is when the administration has some underlying political reasons for being there. Ms Rice beautifully reiterated my point by stating that the tsunami was a "wonderful opportunity" for the US to show it's humanitarian side.
Mihai, Los Angeles, USA