Voting Republican

 

 

by John Tyler Connoley

 

October 20, 2004

 

 

On November 2nd I'm casting a vote for the Republican Party and the future of America by voting for John Kerry. I'm voting for the soul of conservatism and sending a message to the Republican leadership that the current modus operandi is unacceptable.

 

I know the party line is that we can't give the country to the Democrats during a time of war, but since neither candidate has a viable plan for Iraq I don't feel that argument washes. Bush's plan is to stubbornly stay-the-course while Iraq falls into chaos. He seems incapable of understanding that freedom without security is not democracy but anarchy. Kerry, on the other hand, says he'll go to the world for help. He means to beg European politicians to skewer their own careers by sending much-needed reinforcements to Iraq. As Dana Carvey's Bush 41 used to say, "Not gonna happen."

 

The choice on Iraq is between delusion and delusion. Kerry's saving grace is his reputation as a flip-flop. Unlike Bush, Kerry is known for changing plans when the old one doesn't work. And since neither presidential plan for Iraq shows promise of working, my hope is that a President Kerry will stay true to form and change course once he's elected.

 

On the issue of global terrorism, I agree with Kerry that Bush's grand experiment in Iraq was a distraction from the real problem. There is no way of knowing for sure if we're safer now or not -- the first 9/11 took decades for al Qaeda to plan, so the fact that we haven't had another in 3 years is no proof of safety. However, common sense would say that if Saddam had WMD, they were less of a threat in his hands than they are now, having disappeared into the Iraqi underground. Likewise, while Saddam may have provided safe harbor for some terrorists, Saddam's Iraq was not a hothouse for terrorist recruitment, training, and planning as Bush's Iraq now is.

 

From a strategic perspective, we're much less safe than we were before we stretched our military thin in Iraq. Bush bet all our chips on a swift victory -- a bet that has yet to pay off. Now, if the roulette wheel falls on Iran, North Korea, or any number of African hot spots, we have no more resources to bet with. We lose. Ironically, voting for the Democrat this year will mean voting for a conservative foreign policy with the hopes of getting us out of the liberal quagmire of interventionism that the Republican president got us into.

 

On the domestic front, we have a choice between a tax-and-spend Democrat from Massachusetts or a borrow-and-spend Republican from Texas. I'm all for cutting taxes (even for the wealthy), but borrowing from our children so we can give handouts to the current generation is fiscally irresponsible, not to mention un-conservative. I'd rather have a sober Democratic President who's willing to pay for his socialized healthcare plan with a tax-hike, than a Republican who spends like a drunken college student buying drinks for his friends with his Dad's credit card.

 

This election is also a choice between a Senator who views America as a historically pluralistic democracy, and a President who looks to a future Christian America. Again, there's irony in the fact that the Roman Catholic Democrat has shown himself willing and able to stand up to Rome, while the Protestant Republican takes council from the leaders of Religious Right -- when JFK ran for president, Protestant Republicans worried openly that the Catholic Democrat would hand American governance over to the Pope.

 

President Bush's proposed Federal Marriage Amendment was written by lawyers of the Family Research Council, a religious lobbying group, and Bush's policies on stem cell research and faith-based initiatives are centered in his theological assumptions about the beginning of human life and the power of God to save drug-addicts. Establishing freedom from religious coercion was our government's first act as a Democratic body, and the President's attempts to wear away at this foremost freedom are anything but conservative.

 

On the other hand, while Senator Kerry's friends describe him as a deeply religious man, he knows better than to push his personal theology on others. He sees America not as an exclusively Christian nation, but as a plural society with Catholics, Evangelicals, Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus, and others living together. Under Kerry's watch, I expect a government by the people for the people, not by the preachers for the congregants.

 

Bush's brand of Republicanism is radically progressive in the way it views the Republican Party, America, and the world. And, as we learned in 2000, if Bush wins the election even by the slimmest margin, he'll see it as a mandate for his vision. However, my hope is that a Bush defeat will convince the Grand Ol' Party to return to its conservative roots.

 

Mark Twain once said, "Patriotism is loving your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." I think the same could be said for party politics. This spring, I changed my registration from Republican to Democrat, because I forgot that I could love the party while disagreeing with its leadership. It's too late to change back before the election, but its not too late for me to vote for the future of the Republican Party and for a return to conservative values -- in other words to vote for John Kerry.

 

 

 

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Copyright 2004 by John Tyler Connoley

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