Erick Erikson gives us a look into his thought process in endorsing Fred Thompson. I’ve been wary of making it official who I’m supporting here, but rather than pretend to be neutral I’d rather come out in favor of full disclosure.
I’m officially supporting Fred Thompson in the Republican primary. There are two basic reasons for this endorsement: the first is that Sen. Thompson is a consistent conservative. The second is that he has a record of fighting governmental corruption and he is someone who has spent time in the Beltway but is not a creature of the Beltway. There are two issues I care about personally: winning the war and reducing the size of government. Sen. Thompson is strong on both.
The Importance of Judges
There’s a reason why Sen. Thompson has such strong support from the legal community. When President Bush needed someone to guide Chief Justice Roberts through his Senate hearings, he turned to Fred Thompson. In the next few years there is likely to be at least one Supreme Court vacancy, and this country needs a Supreme Court that recognizes the limited role of the judiciary and respects the Constitution as a document that expressly limits the power of the federal government. Stare decisis is undoubtedly important, but it doesn’t mean letting one bad case pile on top of another. Roe v. Wade, as a matter of law, was wrongly decided. The Supreme Court’s decision in Casey was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of the Court not only in terms of its effect, but in terms of its poor reasoning and bad jurisprudence. As a law student and future member of the bar, it is crucially important to me to know that this nation has qualified judges who respect the rule of law and the constitutional order. I know that Fred Thompson will appoint such judges. I can’t say that with certainty with any of the other candidates.
I’ve already given praise to Sen. Thompson’s plans for Social Security reform, and for good reason. Entitlement reform is absolutely critical to the future of this country. We cannot sit idly by while entitlement spending threatens to consume more and more of the national fisc. We need to reform entitlement spending now before it matures into a full-fledged crisis. Sen. Thompson has a plan on the table to do that, and the other candidates are behind the curve.
On taxes, Sen. Thompson also has a realistic pro-growth tax plan. We need to keep the Bush tax cuts in place, or risk destabilizing an already shaky economy. While I’m for a flat tax in theory, the question is how it would be implemented. The genius of Sen. Thompson’s plan is that the flat tax would be voluntary. It’s difficult to push through major tax reforms like doing away with the IRS—there’s too much bureaucratic inertia in effect. However, creating a secondary system is easier than full-scale reform, and provides a reasonable stepping-stone towards switching over to a flatter, fairer tax system. Sen. Thompson’s tax plans aren’t based upon pie-in-the-sky promises, but actually stand a chance of being enacted. It’s that kind of incremental approach that helps shift policy in the right direction rather than making promises that are virtually impossible to keep.
Sen. Thompson has also been strong on earmarks and limiting the rapacious growth of government. His commitment to reducing government waste and increasing transparency is absolutely crucial towards the end of reforming the culture of corruption in Washington. His record on these issues makes it clear that his talk of reform is sincere and that as President he would enforce a policy of fiscal discipline that has been lacking in recent years.
Sen. Thompson has called for a much larger military, and that’s the right call. We cut back as part of the post-Cold War “peace dividend” and now that events have shown that we live in a much less stable world than we thought, it’s time to rethink that policy. The situation in Iraq has demonstrated that we still have a 20th Century military. We need to continue the process of changing our military for one geared towards fighting Soviet tanks rolling down the Fulda Gap to fighting a modern counterinsurgency. That means changing strategic doctrines, training more soldiers, and learning the lessons of Iraq. Sen. Thompson’s plan for a million-man Armed Forces is the right plan to ensure that we can fight the conflicts of tomorrow.
These are just a few of the issues that justify this endorsement. On the issues that matter—substantive issues of policy—Sen. Thompson has the right positions. While Thompson’s poll numbers have declines, my support is not about hitching my wagon to whatever horse happens to be in the lead, but on which candidate has the strongest policy and the right temperament to lead. Sen. Thompson is that candidate, and while there are many strong Republican candidates in this race, in the end Sen. Thompson has demonstrated that he has the strongest mastery of the issues.