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Monday, January 12, 2004

Can't vote for Bush... or Hot-Headed Howard either

I've heard that nine Democrat candidates are running for President this year. If you asked me to name who was on that slate I could only rattle off two names immediately: John Edwards and Howard Dean. And Edwards only gets that luxury 'cuz our family lives in the state that he's supposed to be representing in the United States Senate. But even before his election in 1998 it was very obvious here in North Carolina that Edwards only intended to use his Senate seat as a stepping-stone toward higher aspirations. I wish I could report that North Carolina has an adequate voice in the Senate as we did during the Jesse Helms heyday, but as our other senator is Liddy Dole... well, that's a blog post for another day...

My conscience won't let me vote for George W. Bush for President this year. For enough reasons that have made me consider and reconsider my political beliefs and more during these past three years. I've had to fight past experiences I've had with some very mean-spirited and downright nasty Bush supporters, to look past them and strive to see the man himself, who cannot possibly answer for the actions and motives of his "faithful". To do otherwise would be akin to judging Jesus on the basis of, say, the plundering of Christians by fellow Christians in the Fourth Crusade.

It's been an enlightening thing, to become educated in discerning past the aura that others project around the person, and pierce them to see that person for who they really are. So in choosing not to support George W. Bush, and to go so far as to state openly that he has not been suitable as the ideal president, I am compelled to examine my own motives, lest I should see him as I subjectively desire him to be, whether conscious or sublime. In that regard, I pray that the following discernment is that of the spirit, and not from the flesh.

George W. Bush has propelled government spending and its size to a proportion that, in some ways, makes the dreams of Bill Clinton pale in comparison. Either one of the PATRIOT Act or his proposal last week to grant amnesty to millions of illegal residents would scream out a violation of basic conservative principles. But he's gone further: signing McCain-Feingold (AKA campaign finance reform) into law, approving the fiscal black hole that was Ted Kennedy's education bill, the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill, sending billions of our dollars into Iraq when that country will be well-enough on its own to rebuild with little outside assistance... and not a single veto of which he can boast. It's almost like watching a re-run of Bill Clinton: and did that guy ever have a spending bill cross his desk that he didn't like? And I've had a lot of problems with our military actions in Iraq: our armed forces are intended to defend this nation, not to attack where there is dubious or no evidence that we have been or are about to be attacked. 9-11 wasn't the result of another country conspiring against us: it happened because a group of petty thugs didn't like America, and unfortunately had enough access through wide-open borders to train here, then attack here. Since then our armed forces have become spread too far, too thin, and our borders have been thrown open wider than ever. This is how you weaken your own country, not strengthen it.

On Bush's watch, America's seemingly inevitable slide toward blatant socialism has not been stemmed, but rather quickened. It is for this reason, above all others, that I cannot cast a vote for Bush this coming November with an untroubled heart. For it is apparent to me that the man does not trust the American people, instead trusting in the collective might of government. I cannot trust a man who cannot trust the people.

But neither can I trust any of the Democrat candidates, whether I know enough about them or not. In fact, I trust them even less than I can Bush. None of them has presented any rationale for running for president more conspicuous than a glaring and despicable hatred and utter loathing for George W. Bush. I admit to not having watched any of the Democrat presidential debates, but having read enough stories and transcripts of what's happened in them, have come to the conclusion that the Democrats have nothing substantial enough to offer that could raise these events above the level of a "Hate Bush-Fest".

As Christians, we are instructed to "love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another" (John 13:34). Furthering the point that we are to love all, even our enemies, the Bible is rife with warnings against unreasoned hatred: as the Psalmist sang, "Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye." The Bible teaches us that at times it is justifiable, even demanded, that we become angry... but anger coupled to hatred is a dangerous thing in the eyes of God. And those who hate without cause at all do so at their peril.

A case in point, though he should be thankful that the ramifications are apparently temporal this time, is Howard Dean. The former governor of Vermont is considered the frontrunner among the Democrats. He can certainly boast having the biggest warchest and the greatest level of organization among the nine. That hasn't elevated him above the fray in terms of character, as yesterday's fiasco in Oelwein, Iowa proved. During the Q&A following Dean's stump speech, a voter told Dean that he and the other Democrats should tone down their anti-Bush rhetoric, that Dean was "tearing down your neighbor."

Howard Dean went full-tilt whacko, first telling Dale Ungerer that "George Bush is not my neighbor." When Ungerer stood from his chair, Dean shounted "You sit down. You had your say. Now I'm going to have my say." Ungerer politely returned to his seat, leaving a seething Dean to rant "George Bush has done more to harm this county right here... It's not the time to put up any of this 'love thy neighbor' stuff ... I love my neighbor, but I'll tell you I want THAT neighbor back in Crawford, Texas where he belongs."

If voting for Bush will go against most of what my training, my studies as a historian and my experiences in the real world have taught me, then voting for any one of his Democrat rivals would go against what I have learned as both a citizen of America, and as a disciple of Christ. And apart from someone with the convictions of Ron Paul, or Alan Keyes, or Tom Tancredo entering the picture as an extra-party candidate soon, it's very difficult altogether to find anyone worth voting for in ten months' time.