|One Nation, Under God...||
"The real democratic American ideal is, not that every man shall be on a level with every other man, but |
that every man shall have liberty to be what God made him, without hindrance." --Henry Ward Beecher
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Thursday, November 04, 2004
Posted 1:53 PM by WiN
I see I'm getting a surge of hits from the Yahoo blog directory so I thought I'd put down a few thoughts about what I believe to be one of the most important elections of my lifetime (40+ years).
First, I want to express how eternally grateful I am for the way things turned out. I could complain about a few races here and there (COUGH*Colorado*COUGH), but overall my feeling is one of extreme gratitude and relief. You can put me firmly in the column that believes that the 'values' or 'morality' vote won the day, and that energizing the 'religious' vote was the key to the Republicans' historic victory. By 'religious', I mean not just the evangelical Christian vote, of which I consider myself a member, but also the devout Catholic and Jewish vote. I have seen where Democrat soothsayers and media 'experts' have already put all this into the 'Gay marriage/wedge issue' pigeon-hole, but it goes beyond that, and attempts at such oversimplification are done at their own peril.
Speaking as a sample of one, but I think a fairly representative one, gay marriage was only a part of what drove the evangelical vote to the polls. Speaking as a social conservative, my overwhelmingly number one issue was Supreme Court appointments (as it was in 2000). Liberal judicial activism has been going on for decades, but in recent years it has been hammering away at our liberties so hot and heavy that even the dullest conservative/constitutionalist/Christian could not help but take notice. A partial list:
Another crucial portion of this equation, which probably impacted the Catholic vote most heavily, was the issue of abortion and more specifically Senator Kerry's track record thereon. Senator Kerry, a professed Catholic, was judged not just 'pro-choice', but radically so (in complete agreement with his overall extremely liberal record). In opposing both the partial-birth abortion ban and 'Conner and Laci's law', he showed his true stripes as a communicant not of the Catholic church and its' teachings, but of the Church of Pro-Choice. He managed to escape, through avoidance, being refused communion by observant priests, but his 'Catholic' identity was exposed as a sham nonetheless. And although it was rarely if ever mentioned, how ready were traditional Catholics to vote for a divorcee who dishonored his vows of matrimony after eighteen years, only to end up at the alter with a widowed billionaire heiress? Yes, Ronald Reagan was a divorcee president, but with two mitigating factors in his favor: One, his first marriage was a stereotypical, short "Hollywood marriage" that seemed to have ended amicably, and his long-term commitment to Nancy was widely viewed as an exemplary relationship; second, he did not pose as a believer in Catholic doctrine that he then conveniently ignored. One more factor that might have caused doubts in the Catholic electorate, although I hesitate to mention it since the issue of birth control has pretty much disappeared from the radar of religious dispute, but what kind of Catholic marriage produces two children in eighteen years? Certainly no Kennedy influence there.
As for the Jewish vote, it was clear from the beginning that Bush was the man for any supporter of Israel (which by the way includes the vast majority of the evangelical vote). Even though Bush became the first President to explicitly endorse a Palestinian State, he also made it patently clear that it was not going to happen with the status quo ante. Over the course of his first term, I don't think there's any question that Bush has become one of the staunchest, if not the staunchest, Presidential supporter of Israel in history. Socially liberal Jews that were skittish about his 'faith-based initiative' talk, spinning it as an attempted Christian take-over of government social services, were quite simply and obviously drinking the socialist, far-left kool-aid. As men of God like Dennis Prager and Rabbi Daniel Lapin have pointed out, a nation living according to Christian principles benefits Jews, both in America and Israel. Those who got the message, and managed to overcome decades of political tradition, voted for Bush.
On the fiscally conservative side, which I also consider myself a member of, the strong economic recovery trumped all the compromises and mis-steps on education, agriculture, free trade, Medicare, etc. The bold tax-cutting measures that Bush initiated and then pushed through the legislature are undeniably the major factor behind the America's current economic strength. And not just tax cuts, but smart tax cuts that benefited average middle class taxpayers like myself (key word taxpayers) while reinforcing family values and business growth through investment stimulation. Remember the Democrat response to Bush's tax cut proposals? We'll placate you by giving you a little money back (one-time refunds), but we sure don't want to you be able to keep more of it in the first place (cuts). To Democrats, it's the government's money, to Republicans, it's your money that the government takes from you. When Bush's tax initiatives kicked in, Kerry's smokescreen on economic issues dissipated rapidly as the economy roared out of the recession Bush inherited from Clinton, which was exacerbated by 9/11, and continues to advance strongly with no end in sight, as Larry Kudlow points out:
All campaign long Kerry has flogged Bush on the issue of lost jobs. Using the business survey of non-farm payrolls, Kerry attacked Bush on this issue again and again. It was an effective tactic: The bipartisan blue-chip Battleground poll reports a 51 percent to 40 percent Kerry advantage on job-creation.A key factor for me, economically speaking, is Bush's promise to address the inevitable train-wreck that is Social Security. Plans that I have seen, especially one espoused by former Senator Jack Kemp, are both sensible and fiscally sound without threatening near-term benefits one iota. I am quite frankly buzzed over Bush's talk of moving towards an ownership society, and I can easily see where it would be a major motivator for the 25-45 set to pull the lever for a future other than 'more of the same' (flash: the era of Big Government is far from over).
Finally, while I'm sure the war on terror was a major factor in many people's decision, I doubt there were many undecideds going into the final stretch. It was abundantly clear that, if you really wanted the U.S. to continue to prosecute the war on terror, you needed to pull the lever for Bush. If you disagreed with the premise of the 'war on terror', if you thought the overthrow of Saddam was an illegal and unnecessary use of executive power, if you thought it was 'all about oil' or 'the sanctions were working' or we somehow needed a U.N. permission slip to defend ourselves, Kerry was your man. End of discussion, end of deliberation. Obviously, I fall into the former group and I seriously doubt anyone switched from Bush to Kerry on this one in the past year or so. I suspect there were a few thousand the other way, but not anything like a major move.
Now where do we go from here? Obviously, the first order of business is establishing stability in Iraq (and to a lesser extent, Afghanistan). Right now I'd expect that a large part of the White House's attention is concentrated on January elections in Iraq. After that, I'd guess that Social Security reform looms on the radar (although that could be wishful thinking). Within a year, I'd look for major concessions in Iran and some sort of deal with North Korea. And I obviously hope and pray for a smooth transition to a new Chief Justice in the Supreme Court, although the chances for that are slim. Beyond that, I'd hope for another push on education for bolder initiatives towards school choice and standards for teacher performance, and an end to 'social promotion'. Bush and the Republican legislature should also push for further revision of the tax code towards both simplification and fairness. General-purpose tax-free savings accounts should morph from MSA's and IRA's, with spending permitted towards education, retirement, medical expenses and other family needs. And health costs should be addressed through medical liability reform and a shift away from third-person payer to a consumer-controlled system.
Can it all happen in four more years? Probably not, but it's a bold vision and one that I believe many Americans are excited enough about to stick with a future candidate that embraces it. America is a place that thrives under strong, optimistic leadership. Our country moved forward under men like Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton and faltered under dour personalities like Johnson, Carter, Ford and Bush I. That's why I think America has rejected Bush 41, Dole, Gore and now Kerry, and why I think there are bright days ahead under George W. Bush. May God continue to bless him and guide him in the years ahead. Right now I'm eternally grateful he's my President.
Update: Another look at the road ahead, a bit more detailed than mine, that I generally agree with.
Update: Catching up with my reading, I see Suzanne Fields makes some similar comments about the kind of Presidents we tend to elect. She calls it the 'likeability' factor:
Did it? I believe it did, which makes it that much harder for me to believe that Hillary '08 is such a great strategy for the Dems.
Posted 9:44 AM by WiN
Go Big Red
Yes, that's right. Oklahoma is one of only two states (that I could detect) that were all red on this year's USA Today county results map.
I'm assuming that the counties shaded grey are awaiting final tabulations, so Utah could (and probably will) join Oklahoma and Nebraska as an 'all red' state.
Beyond that, other interesting statistics:
Area in square miles of counties won:
Bush: 3.28 million
Population (2003) of counties won:
Bush: 150.9 million
Kerry: 103.6 million
And, as columnist Jerry Bowyer pointed out recently, the red states are growing much faster than the blue one. I would imagine, just based on what he says about D.C., that's probably true for the counties as well. So whoever the Dems pick in 2008 is sure to be fighting an uphill battle. By 2012, after another reapportionment, I suspect things will really be looking bleak for the 'Blues'.
My Bloginality is INFP
AN OPEN LETTER IN SUPPORT OF THE PEOPLE OF IRAN FROM THE WEBLOGGING COMMUNITY
We are not politicians, nor are we generals. We hold no power to dispatch diplomats to negotiate; we can send no troops to defend those who choose to risk their lives in the cause of freedom.
What power we have is in our words, and in our thoughts. And it is that strength which we offer to the people of Iran on this day.
Across the diverse and often contentious world of weblogs, each of us has chosen to put aside our differences and come together today to declare our unanimity on the following simple principles:
- That the people of Iran are allies of free men and women everywhere in the world, and deserve to live under a government of their own choosing, which respects their own personal liberties
- That the current Iranian regime has failed to create a free and prosperous society, and attempts to mask its own failures by repression and tyranny
We do not presume to know what is best for the people of Iran; but we are firm in our conviction that the policies of the current government stand in the way of the Iranians ability to make those choices for themselves.
And so we urge our own governments to turn their attention to Iran. The leaders and diplomats of the world's democracies must be clear in their opposition to the repressive actions of the current Iranian regime, but even more importantly, must be clear in their support for the aspirations of the Iranian people.
And to the people of Iran, we say: You are not alone. We see your demonstrations in the streets; we hear of your newspapers falling to censorship; and we watch with anticipation as you join the community of the Internet in greater and greater numbers. Our hopes are with you in your struggle for freedom. We cannot and will not presume to tell you the correct path to freedom; that is for you to choose. But we look forward to the day when we can welcome your nation into the community of free societies of the world, for we know with deepest certainty that such a day will come
A personal note: I have only had one Iranian acquaintance in my life, but I definitely considered him a friend. While I was in college (second time round) I had a part-time job as a self-serve gas station attendant. The senior employee was an engineering student named Rahim. The school I attended had (and probably still has) a significant middle-eastern student population, a lot of them in engineering. This was also during a period (mid-eighties) when Iran was not a popular place to be from (Iatolla Khomeini era). Since he was obviously middle-eastern, people would sometimes ask him, "Where are you from?" to which he would reply, with a sly grin "Persia".
He was not very political, so the topic of Iranian politics rarely came up. Occasionally he would show me some propaganda sheet he had picked up on campus, written in Farsi, and translate some of it for me. He also delighted in the ridiculous political cartoons showing Uncle Sam in various uncomplimentary poses. He seemed to regard the whole thing as humorous, but he got very serious when he spoke on rare occasion about the danger his relations back home faced from the oppressive regime. He had married an American and intended to stay here, at least until things got better back home.
I can't count the number of times he helped me out with work-related situations like swapping shifts and taking over for me in emergency situations. I gladly did the same for him. He was especially enamored with a nice "fuzzbuster" I had that I used for my many trips to Dallas. He borrowed it for a couple of trips he had to make to El Paso, where a former professor was holding a term paper of his "hostage" and he was negotiating to have the paper approved in order to get credit for the course, which was holding up his degree. He returned from his trips singing the praises of the magical device.
I lost track of him, of course, after I quit the job but to this day he is the face of Iran to me - friendly, helpful and a little mischievous, with a heart of gold. I wish him and all the people of Iran good will and the blessings of freedom.