Monday, November 01, 2004
For Whom To Vote:I would like to preface this post by saying that I have never voted Republican in four previous elections for President. In the past, I found the Republican Party to be too intrusive into the personal lives of ordinary Americans. While I endorse most of the moral ideas of the party faithful, I do NOT endorse the government legislating them. Certainly, these are not ideas upon which to base ones re-election, especially in my household. However, the election of 2004 is not based on social policy. The election tomorrow rests on two main pillars: the economy, and foreign policy.
President Bush has trumpeted policies that have been very influential in averting a protracted recession. After the dot-com busts, and issues with corporate governance, investors lost confidence in the capital markets. Consumer confidence was similarly eroded, and got no better after the events of September 11th. Here, Bush stepped in and did what good executives do. He led. He did not wait on a poll to tell him which way to lean. He consulted his advisors, and he went with policies that best fit his view of how the country should proceed. His tax cuts on dividends, and personal income, proved to be a boon to the economy. Consumer spending, housing purchases, and confidence in the economy were lifted. Today, leading indicators are about where they were in 1996, when President Clinton was re-elected. Yet the same people who smiled about how great things were in 1996 will tell you otherwise regarding 2004. Detractors claim that the president has not done enough to keep jobs from exiting to overseas firms, but this is not something a president can control, not should he. Instead, the president has encouraged capital formation through his fiscal policies to allow domestic companies to maintain profitability in a global economy. Manufacturing jobs have been lost to locations where similar jobs can be done more cheaply. But this is a dynamic of the American economy that has been around for decades. As a historical example, manufacturing techniques and machinery enabled companies to produce goods in a fraction of the time with a fraction of the labor cost. Had American government listened to those who said the economy was doomed back then, imagine where we would be today. Quite simply, this president is pro-business, and it is business that employs workers. Punish business, and you limit the workers they can sustain. In this light, President Bush is the best choice for the economy.
Even so, the President cannot be considered for re-election unless he has a coherent foreign policy. I recall in 2000, then Governor Bush endorsed a foreign policy that was more akin to James Monroe than anyone else. However, 9/11 changed that. No longer can we continue to appease terrorists. No longer can we ignore the threat. Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush pere, and Clinton responded in different ways during their respective tenures, but none were effective. The Bush strategy of taking the fight to the terrorists, and of keeping the fight there instead of on American soil, is perhaps the single most action of this presidency with which I agree.
Bush's policies are well defined, and on the record for all to see. His opponent, Senator Kerry, speaks of his many intentions in many "nuanced" ways, depending upon the audience. Earlier this week, VP Cheney joked that Kerry had to look at poll data before responding to the bin Laden tape. Unfortunately, the joke was not really a joke. This is the type of governance we have to look forward to in a Kerry administration, in stark contrast to President Bush.
The Bush administration is not without its weaknesses. As I mentioned before, there have been many policies with which the President and I have had a differing point of view. These include the Federal Marriage Amendment, "No Child Left Behind", the farm bill, McCain-Feingold, steel tariffs, the tacit endorsement of the assault weapons ban, and Medicare prescription drugs. A major improvement would be a return to the conservative tradition of fiscal restraint. Additionally, I would like to see him learn to use the veto, which he has yet to do. Furthermore, I would like to see the President articulate his ideas better to the public (partial Social Security privatization comes immediately to mind). However, in aggregate, these things pale in comparison to the two main items on the American agenda. It is for this reason that President Bush is the best choice on Tuesday.
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