Conservatives and Bush
Why I'm going with a third party.
by James Leroy Wilson
July 29, 2004
Two articles from the Center for Cultural Leadership by P. Andrew Sandlin and Rod Martin, argued for Christian conservatives to continue to support George W. Bush and to work within the Republican Party to bring about change. You might want to read them first before you read this. The CCL’s ministry is from the conservative Reformed/Presbyterian strand of Protestantism, and emphasizes a long-term, post-millennial vision for civilization and wisely focuses on cultural transformation rather than immediate political change.
The obvious intention of these articles is to discourage those who might be tempted to vote for the Constitution Party’s candidate, Michael Peroutka, and probably to a lesser extent, those who are tempted to support the Libertarian Party’s Michael Badnarik.
I am writing this in response to Rev. Sandlin’s and Mr. Martin’s articles. I am not writing to provide criticism but rather to offer a different perspective. My cultural and religious views have for almost all my life been outside that of CCL’s. Also, my vote will be for the Libertarian Badnarik, rather than for the Constitution Party’s Peroutka. In other words, I’m not pretending to speak with any authority or claim to be in a position to rebuke these men. I am a convinced extremist already, beyond hope.
But that at least makes it easier for me to explain the “other side” and to hope that these men will recognize that those who disagree with their pro-Bush position have reasons beyond impatience and cynicism.
Myself, I agree with John Kerry on nothing. I agree, at least on some level, with George W. Bush on three issues:
1. “Pro-life” issues, especially against federal funding for abortion. But Bush himself “split the baby” when it came to stem-cell research. The Constitution prohibits federal funding for medical research. That’s something Bush didn’t take into account in his effort to appease both pro-lifers and moderates.
2. A conservative judiciary. But this is the least of the President’s powers. The entire “Culture War” is based on the unaccountable federal judiciary from the Supreme Court on down, about the only thing that divides “liberals” and “conservatives” anymore. A judicial nominee that airs the slightest whiff of the principle that perhaps local jurisdictions, not the federal courts, ought to address local moral and social problems, will provoke the most outrageous smears by Leftists such as People for the American Way and the New York Times. The President has almost unchecked power, but faces the Senate filibuster if he wants to nominate judges who would restore the Constitution.
3. Tax cuts - although I believe they must always be accompanied by budget cuts as well, something President Bush has failed to propose.
These issues are indeed important. But are they definitive? Should I vote for President Bush’s re-election on these grounds alone? The results of Republican Presidents even on the key issue of Supreme Court nominations have been mixed at best. For every conservative they appoint, they appoint one liberal, and one incompetent moderate. The “anti-government” President Ronald Reagan doubled the size of the federal government in just eight years.
Whatever good Bush may have accomplished on these issues, it must be seen in context. He’s governed for most of the time with Republican majorities in both houses in Congress, and what does he have to show for it except miniscule tax cuts?
For advocates of liberty and/or the Constitution, the Third Party option is real and evident. The reality of today’s United States is that there are no less than twelve issues in which both the Democratic and Republican Parties want to overturn the economic, moral, and sometimes even mathematical laws that govern our universe. In other words, the Power Parties want to replace God and God’s Laws with The State. This has always been the drift of both parties since the end of the second Cleveland administration. Today, it’s on an accelerated pace.
What are the twelve issues? In no particular order:
1. That the President, as “Commander in Chief,” ought to initiate war whenever he wants, against whomever he likes, regardless of whether or not Congress formally declares war.
2. Blind obedience to the Federal Reserve Board to try to cover up the destructiveness of the government’s deficit spending, when unregulated commodity standards for money and limited government would do far more good.
3. Protectionist nationalism, which is pure bigotry, or internationally managed trade to benefit domestic corporate interests, instead of free trade.
4. Health fascism from the War on Drugs to War on Tobacco to the War on Obesity.
5. Socialistic command of farmers, their practices, and their prices, even to the point of paying them to destroy their own food while millions in the world starve.
6. Arrogant presumption that the government owns the airwaves, to so as to punish broadcasters and their advertisers who might disagree with the government‘s “moral values.”
7. A culture of dependency on the government through Social Security’s pensions for old people, government unemployment pensions, etc.
8. A virulent hostility to State’s Rights in both parties, which prefer National control.
9. The Cult of the Flag.
10. Massive crackdown on civil liberties in pursuit of an open-ended “War on Terror.”
11. The Income Tax.
12. The Messianic, “City on a Hill” vision for America and it’s role in the world, which is oddly close to the world view of the British monarchy and to the interests of Israel.
Economic and political theory, Constitutional law, and, to a large extent, Biblical morality, condemn all of these things. The conservative or Christian values the President may claim to hold can not overcome the clear record of his administration. President Bush wants to expand the Imperial State, the Police State, and the Welfare State.
He is also a dirty, cynical politician. He deliberately harmed the economy when he imposed steel tariffs (which Presidents, constitutionally, have no right to impose), in the hopes of winning Pennsylvania in the 2004 election. And he signed the McCain-Feingold, Shays-Meehan “Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reformed Act,” more accurately entitled the Censorship of Dissent Act, into law. The President willfully and deliberately violated his oath of office by signing into law a bill that he knew violated the First Amendment, just to silence his most prominent Republican rival, John McCain.
Those two actions by the President were not compromises, they were flagrant betrayals. And if President Bush actually did these things in good conscience, then either he is not a conservative at all, or he is even more stupid and ignorant than even his most hateful Leftist critics can imagine.
If conservatives support Bush, then who won’t they support? How far Left can a Republican go before conservatives say, “enough is enough?”
For me, the three issues that I agree with President Bush are overwhelmed by at least twelve issues in which I have whole-hearted disagreement. In 2000, a friend of mine said that he voted for Gore because he thought Gore would be the less effective President. And there is much to be said for gridlock, for a Kerry Presidency and a Republican Congress. Voting for Kerry in the hopes of getting limited government by way of gridlock is no less wise than voting for Bush in the hopes that he might one day successfully appoint an anti-Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Justice.
But the Third Party option, whether Libertarian Anti-Statism, the more explicitly Christian, Constitution Party alternative, or even a leftist anti-war position of the Green Party or Ralph Nader, is a healthy and invaluable aspect of our system. If for nothing else, they are acts of negation. To put it bluntly, the Democrats and Republicans both believe that the President of the United States has the unalienable right to rule the world through the unilateral force of the “Commander in Chief,”, that is, through terror. That is why I and many others believe that we live in a functionally One-Party system, and the party is the War Party. To vote for either Bush or Kerry is to affirm and encourage the evil presumptions of the War Party and its ambitions of a U.S.-dominated World Government.
Third parties also clarify our values. What do we really want? What do we really believe? What are our values? Without that element, without the “extremists” and “purists,” the Democrats and Republicans are not held accountable to any standard except the pursuit of raw power. To not vote at all, is to tell the politicians that you are content and don’t care. To vote for a politician as the “lesser of two evils” doesn’t give him any clear message except outright affirmation. The ballot, after all, doesn’t leave space for the voter to write down his doubts and disagreements with the candidate he’s voting for. If President Bush wins this election, he’ll have every reason to think that everyone who voted for him endorsed his actions of the last four years and to continue on. His “legacy,” and self-esteem will rest on getting another Republican elected in 2008, not on addressing the concerns of conservatives and libertarians.
Whereas strong turnout for third parties of any ideology sends the clear message to the President and Congress that many of the people are fed up with the Empire, with the Police State, and with the budget deficit. Third parties, no matter how weird some of their policies are, or “unelectable,” their candidates, are really, short of armed rebellion, our only means of speaking out, of sending a message to the politicians who want to run our lives for us.
Keeping the flame of liberty alive requires the existence of third parties. If the people are unable to tell the government, “NO!” then there’s no point in even having a democratic republic.
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