Should conservatives support Kerry?
[Cross-posted to redstate.org/story/2004/11/1/173936/781 and the Command Post]
Here's what president Bush said at a campaign rally on July 4 in Charleston, West Virginia:
...on the Fourth of July, we confirm our love of freedom, the freedom for people to speak their minds, the freedom for people to worship as they so choose. Free thought and free expression, that's what we believe...
It sounds good, but let's look at the context:
On July 4, Jeff and Nicole Rank went to hear George W. Bush speak in Charleston, West Virginia. Tickets in hand, they found seats ten or 15 rows from the stage. There they sat, quietly, wearing t-shirts that read love america, hate bush and regime change starts at home. Forty-five minutes before the president took the podium, event staffers approached the couple and said, "You need to either take those shirts off or leave." According to The San Antonio Express-News, Jeff Rank replied, "People around us have Bush-Cheney t-shirts, pro-Bush t-shirts. Why can't we express our views?" The staffers left, but a few minutes later, two police officers arrived and told the couple to "cover up, take them [the t-shirts] off or leave completely." The Ranks refused, at which point they were handcuffed, expelled from the event, and briefly thrown in prison. With the Ranks safely off the premises, Bush addressed the crowd, declaring that "on the Fourth of July, we confirm our love of freedom, the freedom for people to speak their minds, the freedom for people to worship as they so choose. Free thought and free expression, that's what we believe." Two days later, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Nicole Rank's employer, told her that, as a result of the incident, she was being dismissed from her assignment in West Virginia...
Is it wrong to read too much into that? Well, here's a similar case. And, there's the little matter of loyalty oaths. And, two thousand Floridian Republicans recently stood and took the Bush pledge: "I care about freedom and liberty. I care about my family. I care about my country. Because I care, I promise to work hard to re-elect, re-elect George W. Bush as president of the United States." Looking at those incidents as well as the growing personality cult and the chants of "Viva Bush!", you would be forgiven if the hairs on the back of your neck are standing up.
But, what are minor infractions of our civil liberties if jihadis could roam the streets mowing down innocent women and children? We must vote for Bush or face the threat of nuclear holocaust. Is fear just a campaign strategy, or does it reflect how we've been governed for the last four years and, more importantly, how we would be governed for the next four years?
Are tactics like this truly American, or do they have the whiff of the Second or Third World about them? If you were an immigrant from a Second or Third World country, wouldn't you have a sense of deja vu?
In these and many other cases the rhetoric of the Bush administration stands in direct opposition to reality.
We're told that it's better to fight the terrorists over there than here, and that the homeland is secure. Yet, thousands of illegal aliens cross our deliberately porous borders each day, and thousands of Middle Eastern illegal aliens have been released into the U.S. due to lack of jail space. The DHS has no idea how many of those could have been terrorists.
We're told that Bush is the only person who knows the correct way to fight the war on terror. Yet, the roots of terrorist ideology remain largely untouched. Our supposed allies are still spending billions of dollars spreading the very ideology that supports most Islamic terrorism. The country we were supposed to liberate has been turned into flypaper, and terrorists don't need to stock up on weapons, they can make regular runs to unguarded ammo dumps. 380 tons? Try 250,000 tons of unaccounted for munitions, part of the fourth largest weapons stockpile in the world.
We're told that the blame for the flu vaccine shortage lies at the feet of trial lawyers, or Bill Clinton, or technology, or the "English company." Yet, when you look into it it seems to be a clear case of managerial incompetence on the part of the FDA.
We're told lots of things that just don't make much sense when exposed to analysis. And, these are things that conservatives should be opposing, not supporting.
Here's a solution to this problem: vote Kerry for president, and Republicans for most other offices. Then, support Kerry when he does good, and oppose him when he does bad. The Republicans in Congress and the American public will keep him in check and make sure he does the right thing. I believe he would do it in a more competent, intelligent, and transparent fashion than we've been getting for four years.
In any case, before voting I strongly suggest looking back over the past four years, and using that as a guide to what might happen if we make the wrong choice.