There’s been a lot of talk from conservatives who feel betrayed by Bush’s reckless spending habits and immigration policy. There are many conservatives who feel that Bush isn’t doing enough to appeal to the conservative base – and there are many who are saying that they won’t vote for him because of it. The Spoons Experience bashes Bush for increasing NEA funding. VodkaPundit also wonders if Bush is alienating himself from his fiscal conservative base.
I’m as pissed as anyone about Bush’s seeming inability to say no to more federal spending. He could have followed in the footsteps of Reagan fiscally, instead he’s following in the footsteps of Nixon, which is not something I’d be particularly proud of. The Medicare prescription drug bill was a horrendous bit of policy that will go hundreds of billions of dollars over budget (and already has). Bush’s tax cut may have been a perfect supply side move, but he’s harming his own stimulus by spending like a Keynesian. He needs to develop a sense of fiscal restraint, and he needs to do it now.
That being said, the people who are lashing out against Bush are doing so based on logic that is more than tortured. Four years of an anti-war Democrat in office is not something this nation can afford. Spending will not go down even with divided government. The best we’ll get is a series of watered down Democratic policies. We won’t get Social Security reform. We won’t get Medicare reform. We’ll get at best more of the same, and at worst we’ll get a series of policies that will lead this country down the road to serfdom farther than we’ve ever gone before.
Moreover, the GOP may move right if a Democrat gets elected – right off the edge of the political cliff. Ideological parties do not win elections in this country. From Anthony Downs onwards, political scientists have consistantly found that a party that tries to reach only to its base is a party that loses. Think Goldwater in 1964, McGovern in 1972, Mondale in 1984. All these parties nominated individuals who did an excellent job of getting out their base – and then lost horribly. It was only when people like Reagan and Clinton took the message of their party and tailored it to the rest of the electorate that the parties won.
The best any of these anti-Bush conservatives can hope for is four years of divided government that will keep a line on spending. The tradeoff for this? A Supreme Court that is packed with activists judges who will shatter the Second Amendment, legislate from the bench, and attempt to reshape America in the liberal image outside of the political process. That alone makes wanting a Democrat in the White House a brazen slap to conservative principles.
Of course, one can only imagine what a nightmare our foreign policy would be. The doctrine of preemptive self-defense would be gone. We would pull out of Iraq leaving a shattered country to the wolves. No more political pressure on Iran and Syria. Four years of bowing and scraping to the UN. A policy of forcing Israel to accept genocide in the futile attempt to seek a negotiated peace that has been a fool’s errand for fifty years. Dominque de Villepin becoming a Shadow Secretary of State.
The results of this would almost certainly be a catastrophic increase in terrorism. Anyone who thinks that terrorism is an issue of law enforcement akin to wire fraud and not an act of war on this country does not belong anywhere near the White House. Look where eight years of complacency got us – an ever-increasing number of attacks, each one more audacious than the first. How many lives would be lost because of our inaction? What price is one willing to pay for ideological purity?
There are some normally very astute people arguing against Bush in this case, and they have some very good reasons to be angry with him. However, arguing that our foreign and domestic policies will come out better in the long run simply doesn’t hold water. At best we’ll have to spend years picking up the pieces. At worst we’d see the worst foreign and domestic policies since the Carter Administration – except in a case where the stakes are infinitely higher.
I may be a conservative, but I am not an ideologue. I refuse to sit around and sacrifice so much just because I can’t get everything I want in a President. Yes, it would be nice to have someone who would continue Bush’s important policies abroad and keep spending low at home. Unless Sen. Lieberman suddenly gets the nomination, that isn’t going to happen with any Democrat currently running in office. Any conservative’s best pragmatic choice is President Bush.
If you want to send this country over a cliff in the name of ideological purity, fine. However, when taxes are through the roof, the economy is collaping, Israelis are dying by the score, medicine is socialized, the Supreme Court is shredding the Second Amendment, our foreign policy is being made in Brussels, and conservatives find that they’ve lost nearly everything they wanted, you will have had only yourselves to blame.
UPDATE: Mitch Berg is throwing this question out to the Northern Alliance as well – I’ll be very interested to see what the reaction is. Although one point of clarification is in order – it’s not just the War on Terrorism that influences my decision to support Bush (although that’s by far the biggest). It’s also the possible ramifications for the federal judiciary, the President’s ability to alter the federal bureaucracy, and the way in which such an event could make the GOP end up a minority party for an extended period of time that colors this decision.
And once again for those who have failed to understand it the first eleven billion times I’ve said it – my support of Bush is not unconditional. I don’t like his spending policies, I don’t particularly care for his immigration policy, and I think he’s squandered some important opportunities like school vouchers and other policies. However, he remains the only pragmatic choice for conservatives, even if he isn’t perfect on conservative issues.