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He Can Do Better

A review of the Bush Presidency.

by James Leroy Wilson
March 20, 2002

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He Can Do Better_James Leroy Wilson-A review of the Bush Presidency. When voting for public legislative office, the choice is not between Democrat and Republican, but rather between oppression and liberty.

In the absence of ideologically perfect candidates, that is, one who thinks and acts exactly as I would, the decision rests on which direction a candidate would lead us: toward greater freedom in property, contracts, and associations, or less freedom? If, of the two leading candidates, both would go in the direction of liberty, then the choice is a happy one and the decision would be to favor the one who would most realistically fulfill that promise. If one favors more government and less freedom and the other favors the reverse, the choice is obvious.

The dilemma faced in 2000 Presidential election was that both George W. Bush and Al Gore promised nothing but more government. While Bush proposed a tax cut, it was of such a small amount that any liberty benefit would have been offset by the maintenance and expansion of the federal government that he had promised, particularly with respect to education. The media kept, and keep, calling Bush a "conservative," meaning Bush successfully defined the word leftward. Meanwhile, Gore appealed to the sad, depressed and depressing, malcontents of the Democratic base, i.e., the "victims" (blacks, gays, women), and the anti-capitalists (environmentalists, unions). While it may be true that one candidate would have been even worse than the other, truer still that a lover of liberty did not deserve either. If the two main options would make one less free, the moral thing to do would be to vote for an alternative who actually did promise freedom.

That is what I did, and I don't regret it. This is not an unpatriotic statement in a time of war. For the record, I support wholeheartedly President Bush's efforts to defeat the al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and to use diplomatic and military intimidation to keep our enemies in check and motivate other regimes to crack down on terrorist cells in their own lands.

But that doesn't mean I endorse Bush for slapping a thirty percent tariff on imported steel, punishing other American industries and American consumers with higher prices to save a few jobs and a few companies. Or increasing the federal Department of Education's standards and trample on the Tenth Amendment by advocating nationwide standards. That's the kind of policy Bill Clinton endorsed, and one of the reasons I couldn't stand the guy.

Nor could I support the federalizing of airport baggage handlers, adding tens of thousands to the ranks of unionized federal employees whose chief goal is to do less work for more pay. Nor could I support Bush ordering the abandonment of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques for amphibious military exercises before finding a suitable Atlantic replacement, thereby reducing our future military preparedness.

Nor could I support an "energy plan" which, foregoing the obvious solution of freeing the market, sought to distort it by favoring some fuels over others. Nor the stepped up War on Drugs, with greater military involvement in Colombia and a disgracefully dishonest Super Bowl commercial that blames American drug users, not drug prohibition, for the huge profits criminals, including terrorists, make from the drug trade. Nor allowing John Ashcroft to overturn the state of Oregon's democratically-affirmed law that allows doctors to prescribe lethal medication to consenting, terminally-ill patients. Nor signing an extension of unemployment benefits for additional months, prolonging the disincentive to work. Nor his unwillingness so far to fight for freedom of speech and against the Shays-Meehan bill. Nor can I support an open-ended "War on Terror." The key to reducing terrorism on American mainland is less, not more, meddling overseas and within the local and personal affairs of the American people.

While President Bush has been adept at keeping foreign enemies and domestic opponents off-balance, and has been able to draw upon personal convictions and good will, his presidency may be more injurious to freedom than the talented but unprincipled and therefore ineffective Clinton. Presidents will not be judged by how much they "accomplished," but rather the quality of their achievements. And this President would serve his nation better if he placed greater faith in the American people and less in government. Like Clinton before him, he has demonstrated he has qualities that could make him a good President. Unfortunately, he has too many bad ideas and wrong convictions for the job.

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