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OK, President (?), here’s your to-do list

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

I knew not at this writing which candidate would be elected as the president of the United States. The polls indicated that the battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was too close to call. I believe the polls.

I simply hope that the winner begins working immediately to unite the country and convince the federal Congress and state legislatures to end the deeply divisive partisanship that has pervaded governments for seemingly forever. I am convinced that this is the only way to save us from oblivion.

Mr. Romney emphasized that subject on the campaign trail more convincingly than Mr. Obama. If elected, we’ll see if he backs up the easy talk with the hard walk of reaching across the political aisle. We were heartened at the non-partisan cooperation shown by the Democrat Obama and New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie last week when Sandy tore into that state.

Most people have a wish list for whoever takes office in January. We all want peace in the Middle East and for our troops to be brought home. Our returning soldiers should be given a priority when seeking work outside the military.

We should all hope that the nation operates a public education system from K-12 up that ensures our children can compete across the world. This should start with a well-rounded pre-kindergarten program in every state. Certainly my Mississippi is terribly deficient on this subject. On the table in many states — most prominently in Georgia — is whether locally-directed charter schools should be allowed to operate almost as they wish.

Certainly lower gasoline prices should be a paramount goal for our next leader. There is nothing more frustrating than these wildly fluctuating prices, mirroring the agonizing stock market itself. The country needs an energy plan that reduces dependence on foreign oil. I bring to that issue Mississippi and North Dakota, where petroleum innovators are using the method of hydraulic-fracturing or “fracking” to discover vast new deposits of oil and natural gas. That pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico must be completed. If elected, Mr. Obama needs to yield and allow it to happen.

The manufacturing of durable goods must return as the heart and soul of our economy. A good sign is that foreign countries have increased their orders of durables carrying a “Made in the U.S.A.” label. We are all exasperated when we read “Made in China” on an item. That has to stop.

The new health care program should remain intact, no matter who wins. I think that Mr. Romney, if elected, would make a disastrous mistake by repealing it as he has promised.

These are on my “to-do” short list for our 45th president. One more:

The essential foundations of our cities and counties known by that 50-cent word as “infrastructure” must be addressed immediately. Time magazine’s Richard Stengel described it (paraphrased) recently as “19th and 20th century infrastructure trying to hold up the 21st century.” The creaking support system could partially be blamed for the magnitude of public works’ damages incurred during the storm that blasted the Northeast.

Slightly more than 10 percent of all U.S. bridges have been judged “deficient,” meaning they need immediate rehab; only a few states — Georgia is one of them, thankfully — are able to perform basic maintenance on crumbling roads and highways; sea walls along our coast line on all sides have been battered to bits and pieces; city water and sewer systems, in most places a century or more older, get attention only during emergencies; most power grids are so outdated that they are unable to sustain even the slightest hint of wrath from Mother Nature; and countless dams are breached annually causing untold losses to public and private property.

That’s only a short list of the structural inadequacies facing local, state and federal governments. President Obama tried to get the nation’s attention by proposing a program to rebuild public works systems and to hire the necessary workers, but it never seemed to take hold.

I propose that as job one for President X — right after bringing our troops home, and lowering gas prices, and getting manufacturing back, and ... good luck to the winner.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald. He can be reached at macmarygordon@gmail.com.

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