Why Did I Vote For You?
I just finished reading Impostor, Bruce Bartlett’s book slamming President Bush for failing to live up to anything resembling conservatism. When I first heard about the book, I worried a bit whether Bartlett was just breaking ranks to sell books. If you’re worried about the same, don’t be. Bartlett’s ire for Bush comes through loud and clear, and it is certainly heartfelt.
The book, coupled with Bush’s speech yesterday on “price gouging”, followed by yet another toothless veto threat, made me ask why I bothered to vote for him in the first place. I once had an answer for that. I began blogging days after the 2004 election, and when Britian’s Daily Mirror asked “How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?”, I answered:
Why doesn’t the rest of the world understand that we have weighed the evidence, considered our options, and perhaps 59,054,087 intelligent, rational adults decided that reelecting George W. Bush was the best option we had?
In this election, we were faced with one very serious question. All others fell by the wayside. The question: Should we stand up and fight for what we thought was right in this world, or sit back with our “allies” and watch the threat grow?
I still believe today that given our external threats, Bush was the best candidate for dealing with those threats. I don’t believe that John Kerry would have been able to stand firm in the face of the world, to do what I believe is the right thing in the war on terror. Bush can do that. But he sure has bungled up everything else.
Actually, I shouldn’t completely say that. Bush did cut taxes, and I love tax cuts. But he missed the boat. Tax cuts, coupled with huge entitlement spending increases, is economic insanity. I’ve said before that I’m a supply-sider. I know that lower taxes spur economic growth, which will eventually raise more revenue for government. But at what point do huge deficits and skyrocketing entitlement spending turn into huge debt, requiring either inflation or a major tax increase to pay off?
Let’s run down the laundry list of what Bush has done to screw up so far:
- Signed a blatantly unconstitutional campaign finance bill
- Increased federal government intrusion into education— without corresponding improvements like vouchers
- Created a bloated new medicare drug entitlement— all the while hiding its true estimated costs
- Threatened veto after veto, without following through on a single one
- Comported his entire administration as if it were a monarchy
- Supported the Patriot Act & domestic wiretapping— dramatically increasing the police power of the state
- Failed to respond to Katrina, one of the greatest natural disasters in recent history
- Imprisoned Americans without trial, counsel, judicial oversight, or even a hearing
That’s not even addressing Iraq, which is a whole different debate.
As Bartlett points out, Bush is the “conservative” president who said “We have a responsibility that when somebody hurts, government has got to move.”
Contrast that with Ronald Reagan: “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”
George W. Bush has been described as a “big-government conservative”. Bush’s idea of government is that it doesn’t work, except when he’s holding the reins. His presidency, however, is better described by PJ O’Rourke: “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn’t work and then they get elected and prove it.”
Bush could have been defeated in 2004. In many ways, I wish he would have. Not by Kerry, of course. I don’t see how the Democrats could have their fingers so far from the pulse that they nominated so uncharismatic and vacillating that he couldn’t beat a weak Bush. If the Democrats had nominated someone who had come out with an understanding of at least finishing the job in Iraq, I would have voted for him.
With a pro-war Democrat in office, we might have had a chance at Bush’s only redeeming quality, coupled with the best feature of Clinton’s final 6 years: gridlock. We might have seen the Republican Congress start acting like Republicans, fighting spending. Instead, we’ve been stuck with a Congress who wants to send pork back home, coupled with a president too scared to rebuke members of his own party. Republicans have all three branches of government locked up, and they spend their time trying to act like Democrats. What’s worse? They have such little experience administering and creating welfare programs, that they’ve screwed up every attempt at doing so (i.e. Medicare Part D). It’s gotten so bad, that I DON’T EVEN WANT Social Security privatization if it comes from this batch of Republicans, because I know they’ll be serving the needs of investment bankers, not me.
The last several years have seen complete mismanagement of government. Just as PJ O’Rourke predicted. 2006 and 2008 are going to be a big wake-up call for the Republican party, and I, for one, think it’s about damn time.