Bush worth electing president
By W. James Antle III
The differences between George W. Bush and Al Gore can be overstated, and they often are by the mainstream media. But they are substantial enough to warrant supporting one over the other, as the election results will not be without consequences.
For those of us on the right, the clearest distinction is that the election of Bush will advance conservative goals while the election of Gore will retard them, possibly even preventing the realization of some of our objectives altogether.
There is a powerful case to be made against Gore. He is, like Bill Clinton, a man in pursuit of raw power, utterly controlled by ambition and unbound by the truth. He lies about matters great and small, both consequential and trivial, thus making him a totally unreliable leader and likely to further deepen public cynicism about our government and institutions. Gore's is an agenda of unbridled statism, as his campaign plan is significantly to the left of Clinton, proposes more spending than George McGovern, Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis combined, and would considerably enlarge the size and coercive powers of the federal government.
Specifically, Gore calls for $2.5 trillion in new federal spending and would add 30,000 new bureaucrats to the national payrolls. He would considerably expand the federal role in health care, education and the general economy at the expense of the Constitution. He supports a globalist foreign policy that offers no practical limits on US military involvement around the world and makes likely the continued commitment of our soldiers and sailors for the realization of abstract ideological goals rather than concrete national interests.
In many critical areas, the Supreme Court hangs in the balance by a single vote. The Rehnquist Court consists of too many liberals and centrists to truly restore the rule of law, but it has made some progress in reigning in judicial activism and re-limiting the federal government. Some of its key rulings have revived the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution and struck down the sophistries of those who believe the interstate commerce clause authorized limitless government. Furthermore, changing only one or two votes could reverse even its worst rulings. The next president will likely appoint two or three Supreme Court justices and if Gore is elected, by 2005 Clinton-Gore appointees will likely comprise more than 60 percent of the federal judiciary.
Even assuming George W. Bush's appointments are no better than those made by traditional Republicans like his father (and even Ronald Reagan made some moderate appointments, especially to the Supreme Court), nearly all of President Gore's appointees would be left-wing judicial legislators who hold the rule of law in contempt. His appointees would entrench abortion on demand, approve gay marriage, usurp powers of the states, constrict individual liberties (particularly economic liberty), bash business ala the Microsoft anti-trust case and rubber stamp every unconstitutional expansion of federal power undertaken by the executive and legislative branches under Gore even as it mandates its own.
Gore's big-government policies would not only endanger our surplus but our very prosperity, as the economy already is showing signs of cooling off. Without even delving into the nonsense he espoused in "Earth In the Balance," in which he called for an end to the internal combustion engine and compared industrial pollution to the Holocaust, the vice-president is the most anti-growth major-party candidate to seek the presidency in a generation. His support of the Kyoto treaty alone would reduce economic growth by one full percentage point a year. Gore would put American well on the way to completing its transformation from a federal republic to a European-style unitary welfare state, with the attendant economic stagnation and government regulation.
Finally, the election of Gore is a vindication of Clinton. A sitting president saw his vice-president elected to immediately succeed him only once in the last century, with Ronald Reagan being that sole exception. Gore enabled and abetted some of Clinton's worse misconduct in office, suggested he would be listed among our "greatest presidents" after he was impeached and participated in vicious attacks on those who worked to hold the president accountable. If the vice-president can take credit for the economic growth and other good things that have happened under Clinton, he should be held responsible for this as well.
Gov. Bush carries none of this baggage and is considerably better than Gore. This is not to gloss over his imperfections. He has called for at least $750 billion in new federal spending without suggesting any commensurate retrenchment. He has not proposed the abolition of a single government agency or program of any size, not even the indefensible Department of Education. He has demonstrated himself to be shockingly ignorant of the need to limit government, at the expense of constitutional principle. He lacks even the most basic clue about the consequences of uncontrolled immigration. He is wrong on military intervention in Kosovo, bilingual education and US membership in the World Trade Organization and weak on racial preferences, abortion, the significance of the institution of marriage and multiculturalism.
Even on many of these issues, he is better than Gore. Bush's stated opposition to quotas and concentration on a form of "affirmative access" based on minority outreach contrasts with Gore's defense of an existing discriminatory system, at least showing better instincts on the issue. Bush's inarticulate pro-life stand still comprises a comprehensive opposition to taxpayer-funded abortions, support for a real partial-birth abortion ban and advocacy of a whole host of modest but politically possible restrictions such as parental-notification laws. Bush's comments on reducing our military presence in the Balkans, qualified with the interventionist sentiments of his handlers, shows sounder instincts than Gore as well.
To say that Bush is not the ideal conservative president is not to say that he would not be a good one, especially given the alternative. He would reduce marginal income tax rates across the board, transferring wealth from Washington back to the taxpayers who created it. This would in turn facilitate the creation of more wealth, as opposed to Gore's ill-conceived redistributionist schemes. He is the pro-growth candidate, and his tax-cut proposal would enhance incentives sufficiently to likely double GDP in 16 years, building a vast reserve of personal wealth for Americans and enhancing the surplus.
While Gore would exclude 50 million Americans from his meager tax credits, Bush offers tax relief to all taxpayers and does so in a way to increase incentives to earn, invest, work and produce. His proposals will increase productivity and create new jobs, helping to ease the imbalance in Social Security and possibly even fund a transition to private savings accounts. His proposed free-market reforms of the Social Security system would also expedite the creation of wealth and provide a far greater rate of return than the current system.
Both Bush's tax cut and his partial privatization of Social Security would increase the number of Americans drawing their incomes from the private sector and reduce dependence on government. By increasing the size of what economist Lawrence Kudlow calls the Investor Class, there will be more seed money available for new businesses, technological innovation and for Americans to build better lives. This also will create conditions more favorable for limiting government in the future.
Bush would also bring free-market reforms to Medicare, enhancing doctor choice and bringing competition to bear as a method of reducing costs. He offers similar competition-driven solutions for other aspects of health care, such as prescription drug coverage for seniors, and education. Conservative purists can find much to object to in these Bush proposals, but they understand the value of market-competition and incrementally increase the role of the market at the expense of bureaucracy. Bush's support for school choice is especially valuable as a needed tool to reform education, with a growing body of evidence for its efficacy if not its political popularity.
Additionally, Bush is the candidate who stances increase the likelihood of a more secure America. By increasing defense spending, ending the Clinton-Gore assault on the warrior ethic and engaging in a somewhat more realistic foreign policy, Bush will work toward solving the problem of a military that is underfunded and overextended. He is also the candidate who supports a real missile defense, a necessity given the crisis in the Middle East, uncertainty in China and the presence of dictators and terrorists throughout the globe.
Patrick Buchanan and Howard Phillips are both committed conservatives who are a better than Bush from a purist perspective on a whole host of issues. Both men have served their movement well for a greater number of years than Bush has been active in public affairs. Yet for all their abilities in certain areas and their intensity about important issues (about which they are often quite right) they have shown themselves to be ill-suited to actual governance. Neither is generating anywhere near the level of popular support necessary to defeat Gore, with Buchanan stuck at 1 to 2 percent in the polls and an American Viewpoint poll showing Phillips at 0.1 percent.
Ideological commitment and purity are important, but ultimately an ability to actually advance our goals is something conservatives should value. Not only is Bush in a position to win this race by defeating a candidate likely to have truly awful implications for our country, but he has demonstrated an ability to build a following, lead and achieve the consensus necessary to govern and see his agenda written into law. Buchanan, Phillips and Harry Browne have thus far failed to show these necessary leadership qualities.
Buchanan and Phillips have failed even to persuade large numbers of conservatives to leave the Republican Party with them in support of their candidacies. This is a necessary prerequisite for their presidential bids even being vehicles for building a movement for the future. Long-term third parties cannot be built by the defection of one prominent American alone. Buchanan in particular has been unable to build on Ross Perot's accumulated political capital and arguably left the Reform Party in a much weaker state than he found it. There is also no small amount of internal division within the Libertarian Party regarding Browne, who has failed to persuade significant number of Americans to embrace his individualist viewpoint.
In this race, at this time, Bush is the best candidate whose election would produce the best results of any candidate likely to win. His limited agenda, if enacted, would produce positive developments for the conservative movement and more importantly for America as a whole. It also would provide more fertile ground on which to build for the future. Neither Bush's policy flaws nor recent disappointments with the Republican-controlled Congress should blind us to the opportunities offered by having a Republican president and Congress at the same time. The probable results would be the enactment of the partial infanticide bill Clinton continually vetoes, the biggest tax cut since the Reagan years and curbs on the Clinton-Gore regulatory assault on business.
Even with many missed opportunities, contrast this political development with Gore serving with a Democratic Congress. Consider that if the Democrats do regain control of Congress, something Gore's election makes more likely, 31 of the 45 most important committee and subcommittee chairmanships in the House alone would go to members of the House Progressive Caucus. This group consists of the farthest-left, most radical members of our national legislature, people to the left of Ralph Nader, and they would be in control. Do you still think Bush and Speaker Dennis Hastert are too moderate?
Bush has run a good campaign and demonstrated he deserves a chance. It is my suggestion that my readers who vote in the US presidential election see fit to give him one. After months of indecision, he has won my vote.
W. James Antle III is a former researcher for the Rhema Group, an Ohio-based political consulting firm. You can e-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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