As a conservative,
I agree with most of the criticism that has been leveled at President Bush
amongst Republicans and conservatives. While I support the President’s
foreign and defense policies, I think that the Administration has tried to
do the impossible—preempt the Left on their own issues. Republicans were
not put on this earth to increase the size of government, create massive
new programs like Medicare, spend billions of dollars on AIDS in Africa,
fund the UN renovation, expand the Federal role in education or pursue a
reckless policy of granting amnesty to illegal foreigners working in the
US. None of these initiatives by the President will, in the end, take votes
from the Democratic core base. Democrats are much better and far more willing
to outspend any Republican program that expands the Welfare State.
The strong suit of Republicans is limited government, lower taxes, individual
responsibility and strong national defense. Karl Rove may be right that some
of the President’s big government initiatives may neutralize some independents.
In any case, conservatives could have hoped for much more in a Washington
where Republicans control both the White House and Congress.
Having said all that, I intend to do whatever I can to reelect President
Bush. The reason is simple. The alternative is unthinkable. A tax increase
by rolling back the President’s much needed tax relief will not go to reduce
the deficit but to fund massive new social programs, especially some form
of universal national health care system. The stimulus of tax relief will
be gone and the deadweight of new taxes and government program will lead
to a much larger deficit. Moreover, the hue and cry over the deficit is only
logical if the deficit grows as a percentage of GDP over a period of years.
Economic recovery can shrink the deficit in a relatively short time -- provided
there is no new spending. A Democrat will give us the worst of both worlds
-- higher taxes and higher spending.
A Democratic economic policy is also lethal to the American middle class
and small business. The repeal of most taxes to the “wealthy” proposed by
the Democrats are really to two-income families that are just getting by
and are clearly the backbone of the middle-class and small business owners
who pay income tax; their business is not a corporation but a family business
that is a sole proprietorship. An increase in dividend taxation or capital
gains will put the financial markets in a tailspin and further retard the
growth of new or expanded business activity.
Universal health care has an interesting twist that few seem to be discussing.
If people are concerned about possible invasions of privacy because of the
Patriot Act, imagine the access to private information available to Big Brother
when he gets his hands on your medical records. Once the government is subsidizing
our health, how long will it take before certain health lifestyles or diets
become a matter of government concern over its citizens? Should we expect
a universal health care system to deliver the same value as our compulsory
educational system? In fact, the Democrats are likely to create an even greater
rift between the Haves and Have-Nots in healthcare by allowing only the wealthiest
Americans to pay for private services. Besides this, universal health will
either bankrupt the economy since the demand for healthcare is virtually
without limit or it will require the government to ration healthcare. Do
we really want the delivery of healthcare to become a matter of political
bargaining? Imagine the hypocrisy of those who are adamant that the relationship
between a doctor and patient is sacrosanct when it comes to abortion, but
would make almost all medical procedures a matter of public policy mandates
in the future. Imagine your worst nightmare of an HMO and then increase that
exponentially and you begin to get the real meaning of Universal Health Care.
As for the eventual bill for this service, look to the past at all other
federal entitlement programs. To make matters worse, no Democrat is going
to support Medical Practice Tort Reform which is contributing to the skyrocketed
growth of healthcare costs.
How will Democrats deal with other issues of free market choice for individuals?
No Democrat supports any level of privatization of Social Security for retirement.
There is no support for school vouchers or alternatives to the monopoly of
the public school system. Finally there is no support for private Health
Savings Accounts among the Democrats. While Republicans will at least look
for market-based solutions to public policy issues, the unions and bureaucratic
constituencies of the Democrats virtually insures no such innovation.
On the matter of illegal immigration, the Democrats are more likely to pass
a liberal new amnesty program than any GOP administration. The reason is
that the Hispanic community seems to be “in play” and this is one constituency
the Democrats really need to lock up in order to strengthen their position
on the West Coast and in the Southwest.
One can only imagine the kind of social activist judges and Supreme Court
justices that would be appointed by the Democratic nominee. The Federal Judiciary
will begin to resemble the lunacy of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in
San Francisco. Can any responsible citizen sit home and allow the judiciary
to lunge to the Left? This alone should energize conservatives. The dismantling
of all religious tradition or symbolism in public life is likely to continue
with a Democratic President and a liberal judiciary.
The final issue is one of national security. Certainly no one can believe
that a Democratic administration will strengthen our intelligence and defense
capabilities. It was under Democratic administrations that the CIA and other
intelligence agencies became decimated and hand-tied. The Democrats have
almost unanimously voted against nearly all major new weapons systems. At
a time when we are in fact living in a Third World War, we can not go from
a Churchill to a Chamberlain. It is disingenuous for the Democrats
to glob onto intelligence deficiencies when they are largely the culprit
for lack of human intelligence or material resources in the important area
of espionage. In fighting a terrorist enemy, preemption is the natural policy
and that requires intelligence first and foremost.
While President Bush may not be a conservative’s perfect president, the alternative
should shake any discontents to active support of the President. Moreover,
in the area of determining the security threat to the West and taking action,
the President may go down as one of our greatest leaders. For the sake of
the hope of more prudent domestic policy, judicial restraint and national
security, there is really no choice. As for much of the domestic agenda,
can we afford to sacrifice the good for the perfect?
Scott Shore is a political commentator and management consultant in Providence, Rhode Island.