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When you vote tomorrow
By Scott Shore
Dear Family and Friends,
Let me start with a simple but, to my mind, irrefutable premise: politicians principally desire power and they can't be honest about their real intentions. Their main intention is to win and will do and promise whatever is necessary to get power. I am sure that everyone who wants this power rationalizes that he or she is really pursuing lofty goals. I have some personal knowledge of this and can say with some certainty that this observation is almost universally true. With the above in mind, one can be sure that I am not enthusiastic about any of the candidates and feel that one is merely choosing the ruler most likely to cause the least harm.
With all due respect to my beloved family and their friends, I think it is only appropriate that I express why I shall be voting for President Bush on Election Day. I do this because the opposite viewpoint has been articulated in many different ways within the family and among my friends. While it is generally assumed that my views are stereotypically "right wing," the fact is that they are truly liberal in the classical sense.
Liberals want limited government with the maximum of personal and economic freedom. That was the ideal of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. A truly free economy "is a tide that lifts all ships" as President Kennedy said. Government is like a dead weight on individual achievements and aspirations.
It is true that the scariest words in the English language are "I'm from the government and I'm here to help you." The bigger the government, the more favors it has to give to those with influence either by money (corporate power) or by electoral pull ("entitlement" groups). In any case, the average person without a lobby is out of luck. The fact that one group or groups of people believe that they have the "right" to take the fruits of labor from other groups sounds pretty much like theft to me. Bush is bad on this issue, but Kerry promises to be worse. Kerry is not a liberal, he's a socialist.
I do not use the term "socialist" as a slur. Many fine people believe in one or another form of socialism. At least in Europe, people are honest with their labels. In America, we use phony terms like "progressive" or "liberal" or "leftist." Socialism is fairly straightforward. The economic system is unfair and enlightened people should make it fair. The wealthy should give to the poor. It would be nice if they would do this voluntarily, but if they don't then the enlightened class should take the reins of power (the government) and take it from them. If a majority of people can decide to take the money of a minority that is justice, not stealing.
Another common concept is that the free market or the private sector will come up with bad solutions to social problems (or the only solutions) and that civil society and individuals can't be trusted or allowed to do so. In short, it is right that the government should engineer society to be good.
Of course, all of the above begs questions. What is "fair?" Who determines that certain people are "enlightened?" Should the wealthy be compelled to give to the less wealthy? How far does this idea go? Does government really help people? Does the government help people because communities, families and social groups would not do so otherwise or do communities, families and social groups not help because they know the government will? Does government do a better job of helping? Are creative private and voluntary solutions out there that are far superior but not pursued or discovered because no one can dream of a situation in which the government does not deliver a service? As Bobby Kennedy said "Some people see things as they are and ask 'Why', I see things that never were and ask 'Why not?'". Should people be required to participate in government services or pay for them? These are serious questions. I am not one who has faith that collectivism and political power solutions from government is the best of all possible answers. In fact, it is usually a bad solution. Needless to say, I am not a socialist and I feel that is the moral high ground.
Are we proud of the job that the public sector has done in education? Is the U. S. Postal Service the best we can expect? Should we not expect that public health care will resemble public education? Kerry blatantly lies that the health care provided to members of Congress will be available to senior citizens. (It seems to go without saying that everyone's income should be forcibly taken—with the penalty of imprisonment for failure to do so—to provide this service.) Our health care system is certainly lousy but one could debate whether this was historically due to too much government or too little. In any case, a $1 trillion to $2 trillion program is being proposed under false pretenses. The fact is that health care must be rationed under this system. Who will determine who gets care and how much? The golden rule applies: He who has the gold rules. In other words, the government will now decide. Who is the government, the institutionalization of politicians' payback to their supporters? In other words, we are handing our health over to politicians.
Whatever the many faults of our system, it should be noted that the Canadian and similar programs provide better primary care to more people but that for more acute care, Canadians who are able prefer to come to the States for cutting-edge health care. Saudi sheikhs do not go for Canada when their life is on the line. The US provides most of the advanced medicine and superior diagnostics and provision of health care for the world. The reason other countries are cheaper is because they act as parasites off the backs of the Americans. While not angels, US drug companies must invest billions in mainly risky and unprofitable research in order to come up with a few good drugs. After the drug is developed, the socialist countries establish a single buying group (monopsyny). Were it not for the American consumer, the profits would not exist for the discovery of new drugs. The answer is to make the other countries pay a fair price. Would it not be better to give consumers money directly (ala the Bush plan) than a federal takeover of healthcare? How can Kerry lie and say that "this in not a government program." Sort of like Nixon's "I am not a crook." Just like Kerry's flu vaccine scare tactic, and his scare about Social Security for today's seniors, he shamelessly frightens the elderly and promises dreams that he can't deliver. Give me mediocre Bush to lying Kerry.
True liberals have always believed that freedom had to be defended vigorously. Islamo-fascism is a danger every bit as dangerous as Nazism. This ideology is a spreading cancer that threatens Western civilization and -- par for the course -- Jews in particular. Islamic states and movements are the real men of faith that I fear. Many thoughtful people believe that the War on Terror should have been fought more quickly and with greater overwhelming force. Bush is certainly no Churchill. On the other hand, does anyone seriously believe that Kerry would be resolute in this historic struggle??
Being firm and resolute is not one of Kerry's big selling points. He voted against the first Gulf War (supported by all of Europe) against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. While Kerry said at the convention that he was "reporting for duty," he has voted against every major weapon systems that the US relies upon. His position on Iraq changed almost daily for over a year until he finally decided that half of his own remarks were totally wrong! The fact is that Kerry opposed the use of force when the world community did support it and opposes it now. At what point would this man draw a "red line?" Again, Bush is mediocre but Kerry is positively frightening.
As for Israel, does anyone believe that Kerry will not be just as pro "Palestinian" as Jimmy Carter was and is -- after he gets elected? This is not the party of Henry "Scoop" Jackson but of Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. (2 more "men of faith") Jews are willing to "dialogue" with blacks (statistically the most anti-Semitic group in America) and the National Council of Churches (i.e. the respectable Presbyterian Church that boycotts Israel), but spurns fundamentalist Christians that are more pro-Israel (and many are philo-semites) than any part of America. Jews have much at stake in this election. Bush has generally been supportive of Israel. Kerry has bounced around on the issue of the defense wall. Kerry has always supported UN involvement as part of a Middle East solution. Can we trust the UN? Kerry views multilateralism as something necessarily involving the UN. G-d forbid that his worldview be adopted by one of the few remaining free countries in the world and the only country that arms Israel! Fortunately, the fate of Israel is ultimately in the Hands of G-d. We are the only people who disdain its' own allies. Former NY Mayor Ed Koch has it right in his support of Bush both as an American and as a proud Jew.
While I shall not vote with enthusiasm, I have no doubt that Bush is the better choice. While the country goes down the drain, perhaps we can make it happen more slowly. In this metaphor, Kerry is the laxative.
Scott Shore is an educator and political columnist who lives in Providence, RI.
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