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Conservatives Need to Get Real
by Scott Shore
11 February 2004

While President Bush may not be a conservative’s perfect president, the alternative should shake any discontents to active support of the President.

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.

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