Republicans - still beating around the "Bush"
By Jim Hill
Once again, the Republican Party is demonstrating how little they understand the leadership vacuum that is plaguing our nation. This time, the craze is over drafting George W. Bush for president in 2000. What began as an effort by the country club, power wing of the Party has now grown to include some factions of issue-oriented conservatives, who have also fallen prey.
The hunger to win the White House in 2000 is so great that many Republicans will accept anyone, just as long as he or she is a "Republican." Like the sports mentality that has permeated our entire culture, winning in politics has become little more than a temporary gratification with no lasting significance. This drop in standards can be attributed to several things, one of which is the lack of core values among many of the most ardent party loyalists. Even some of the evangelical Christians of the so-called Religious Right, people who supposedly have a higher commitment to principle than political expediency, have indicated a willingness to follow.
Why am I against joining with other party members and backing the Bush campaign to capture the White House in 2000? In one simple sentence, George W. Bush, better than any other individual, is an ideal reflection of the Republican Party as it is today. And that is why he should not be taken seriously by anyone committed to principle.
Republicans today, resembling their Democrat opponents, are driven more by the fickle whims of society than by core ideologies. The Republican leadership has not taken a serious stand on any issue since the 1995 budget battle where, ultimately, one concession after another was surrendered to the demands of President Clinton. There was a time when smaller, limited government was the uniting theme in the Republican Party. By their actions in recent years, however, the Republicans have even lost their claim to this principle.
Today, after five years of Republican control of Congress, government has steadily grown larger and become more intrusive. Not a single federal department has been eliminated, downsized, or even had its budget reduced in the slightest, in spite of many campaign promises to the contrary. And Americans suffer even more encroachments upon their liberties as the GOP-led Congress continues to pump steroids into the federal monster with bigger budgets and more federal programs. Today, there is not a single issue on which Republicans can legitimately claim either unity or victory. It should come as no surprise that such a wandering generality has rallied around George W. Bush as the ideal man to be their leader.
One need only examine Bush through his own words to arrive at such a conclusion. Project Vote Smart polls candidates at all levels of government, nationwide, and publishes responses to their comprehensive questionnaire on their web site at www.vote-smart.org. Bush's 1998 gubernatorial survey reveals a man very much in love with big government and in search of a consistent set of values. (What American president does this sound like?)
In addition to his politically correct responses on abortion, affirmative action, gun control, and state funded health care, Bush reveals his true identity when it comes to education. He states, "My number one priority is improving public education." Yet, when you run down the list, it's obvious he believes that only government can perform such a feat. He advocates an increase in state funds for teachers and school construction, state-mandated standards (buzz phrase for state-mandated controls), and bilingual education. Nowhere on this survey does he suggest government loosening its stranglehold on this vital industry and allowing the only proven solution, the free market, to reign.
Still, some conservatives are falling all over themselves to line up in support of this man, much like they did in 1996 with the equally bland candidate, Bob Dole. Is this what has become of freedom? Is this our modern day version of "eternal vigilance?" Suppose a giant dragon was threatening our lives and we desperately wanted to arm a knight to go out and slay the dragon. Would we even consider someone who advocates stealing food from our very own tables to keep the dragon alive? Would we be this desperate to "win"? Unfortunately, our situation is not a fairy tale. The dragon is real. Even worse, so is this year's anointed knight.
Nevertheless, the question always comes back to me: "Yeah, but had you rather have him, or Al Gore?" The assumption is that it's better to make a little progress under Bush than none at all under Gore. It's a good question. And it's a fair question. But it's an incorrect assumption and ignores the much deeper issue.
We're all familiar with the phenomenon of boiling a frog in water. Put a frog in cold water and heat it up slowly; the frog will hold still and allow himself to be boiled to death. Heat the water up rapidly and the frog will sense the difference and jump out. This is what happened in 1994. We "jumped out." The Contract with America, while not the most ideal legislation, was still a successful campaign, due in large part to resistance to the Clinton administration's sudden, big government policies.
However, since 1995, the water has been heating up slowly. We have tolerated a steady onslaught of big government programs, often at the hands of the Republicans, who we thought were our allies, and few seem to be aware of the bubbles that are breaking the surface all around us.
As long as we continue this distorted logic of "he's not as bad as the other guy," we'll forever maintain the climate that we have now, where liberals and moderates think they have a fighting chance of obtaining the GOP nomination. So far, history proves that they do. This not only applies in the presidential race but all the way down the ticket. The question is not Al Gore or George W. Bush; the question is whether or not we want to continue this trend.
If all we want is a President in the White House with an "R" beside his name, the polls are telling us that any "R" will do, take your pick. If this is our goal, we can be certain that the water temperature will continue to rise taking us closer to that boiling point. If we want someone who stands for something and has a solid belief system, then the choices are fewer. If we want someone who will help us slay the dragon and bring us closer to the Constitutional government for which our Founders fought, then the answer may not be found in the 2000 election. And it may not be found in either of the two monopoly parties.
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