The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Collaborative think tank could be Bush’s finest legacy

As a Southern Methodist University alumna, I was happy that my alma mater had been selected as the likely host of the George W. Bush Presidential Library, a rare and unique opportunity for any university. Along with the library, the SMU community at large learned that an all-or-none package deal accepting a Bush Institute and its mission was required in order to win the bid for the library.

On the SMU campus, the common perception is that the Bush Institute will be an exclusively right-wing think tank. But such a mission and policy is inconsistent with President Bush’s leadership in requiring national educational standards, facilitating bipartisan cooperation, and his promotion of democracy at home and abroad. An ideological think tank does not meet academic rigors required for credibility.

Since democracy is the most important ideal that Americans and President Bush promote abroad, should it not especially be practiced on American soil within the walls of the Bush Institute at SMU? President Bush through the Bush Institute could utilize not only SMU’s finest academic thinkers, but also the lesser-known but nationally esteemed faculty members in SMU’s own Center for Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management.

SMU’s expert mediators can help facilitate effective collaborative think tanks discussing important issues of times past, present and future.

The Bush Institute could thereby endow SMU and emulate democracy in a new and creative way. It is time for brainstorming and think tank solutions to help resolve the myriad problems in our world today.

The events of Sept. 11, the war in Iraq, the War on Terror, natural disasters – we must collaborate to face these kinds of challenges. Recently, a Republican man and a Democratic woman, President Bush and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, each pledged cooperation. The cost of partisanship stalemates and bickering were too high for both sides of the aisle to continue the same. Sobered leaders began a new and refreshing trend in face-to-face collaboration. President’s Bush’s instinct for bipartisan cooperation was reminiscent of the times he governed Texas in similar fashion.

Campaigning for President, Bush promised to be a “uniter, not a divider.” Here’s a suggestion: where multitudes of collaborative think tanks co-exist. A safe place for debate and discussion of important public-policy issues: environmental issues, global warming, immigration, alternative energy, health-care issues, mental-health issues, etc.

The right hand and the left hand can cooperate in perpetuity in the Bush Institute. President George W. Bush’s sunset years could then be associated with Bush’s natural instinct and greatest political strength: bipartisan cooperation. In the famous Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln reminded of the “great task remaining before us that government (is) of the people, by the people, (and) for the people…”

Lincoln did not seek to represent just the few. Of his critics he said: “Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?” Of endless disputing, he remarked: “Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbors to compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is often a real loser – in fees, expenses, and waste of time.”

Bipartisan cooperation seems to be a growing trend. Former Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton in their legacy years have joined together to assist tsunami victims and promote altruistic causes. These are examples of America maturing past the selfishness and stubbornness associated with the era of “me,” and moving forward by cooperation and altruism into the new era of “we.”

Honest collaboration manifests the essence of democracy, education, thinking and altruism and could be personified within the Bush Institute.

About the writer:

Shannon C. Jacuzzi is an SMU Alumna (1988), Mediator. She can be reached at [email protected].

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