Friday, October 15, 2004
It seems that all I have been talking about lately is the debates. Which are now over. Now what do I do?
Well, I could critique George Will for his latest column. Will smears the left as unprincipled and craven, but he does that all the time. Will is just beginning to bore me.
I could make fun of the latest suggestion that we should get rid of the electoral college. But I have probably beaten that dead horse enough. All I have to say is: Dream On.
I could express irritation that the media is spending more time on the faux issue of Mary Cheney than the real issue of Bush's lie about the importance of Osama bin Laden.
Or I could tell you about my being threatened at gunpoint yesterday. I'm still a little freaked out by it, though. And I really can't see how it relates to politics.
Instead, I want to write about conservatives. Lately, several self-described conservatives are expressing doubts about whether they are going to vote for Bush again. Bob Barr (!), Andrew Sullivan, Robert George and others look like they might vote for Kerry, or at least won't vote for Bush.
I can think of several reasons why conservatives might be hesitant about voting for Bush. They fall into three major categories: competence, process, and substance. In terms of competence, Bush has been ineffective in reducing the size of the government and has made a mess of Iraq. So you can agree with Bush's aims but think he has been ineffective in pursuing them.
Secondly, Bush has abused the process of politics. He has marginalized the Congress, tried to suppress the vote, misrepresented the budget, lied about his enemies, smeared dissenters, stifled debate within his administration, and excluded American citizens who are not his supporters from even seeing him. In short, George Bush has no respect for the democratic process. Yesterday on Al Franken a swing voter said that he was voting against Bush for this very reason.
Finally, we can argue that Bush has sold out conservative principles. While he has been President, the budget deficit has exploded, spending has increased, new mandates have been imposed on the states, civil liberties have been curtailed, and we are engaging in an adventurous foreing policy that is some strange mix of idealism and imperialism. None of this sounds all that conservative.
The question is: what is a conservative to do? Movement conservatives (i.e. pseudo-fascists) lack all intellectual honesty and will vote the way they are told. But serious and thoughtful individuals who care about the republic and their own principles are left some disconcerting options. They could vote for Bush anyway, but then they are just sell-outs. If they stay home, they are neglecting their civic responsibilities. If they vote for a 3rd party, they are throwing their vote away (see my previous votes on this topic). They are also in effect casting a vote for one of the two candidates anyway.
I am going to suggest something revolutionary: vote for Kerry. Big surprise, right? Look at it this way. Kerry will pass the competence test, or at least is unlikely to be less competent that George Bush. And this policy is likely to be very moderate because of a Republican Congress. Kerry clearly has respect for a fair democratic procedure. So those 2 groups of conservatives should be able to rest easy. It is the last group that is tricky. I would suggest that to vote for George Bush is to actively betray your principles- better to vote in someone who will prevent their further corruption. Also, if Kerry has a Republican Congress (who you can vote for), the outcome will be similar to the later Clinton Administration: a cautious foreign policy, spending restraint, and only incremental social change.
In short, if you want a conservative policy outcome, and I mean a real conservative outcome, then the best vote for you is Kerry for President and Republican for Congress. You need Bush out of there, and you can always vote for McCain in 2008.
So take the nasty tasting medicine. It's good for you.