(Not a reference to the movie of the same name)
From the time of my political awaking back in the mid 1990’s, politicians have come and gone, rising to great power and falling from glory. However, one leader on which I pinned such wistful hopes has so resoundingly disappointed me. That leader was none other than President George W. Bush. Back in 2000 when he was running against the liberal leaning John McCain, I strongly supported his election. After the 8 years of Clinton, we needed a strong conservative leader who supported the ideals of limited government and exhibited strong moral values. Very early in his administration, pundits criticized President Bush for taking time off and not accomplishing anything, but I didn’t mind in the least. After all, he was our president, not the “leader of the free world” like the president has come to be viewed. True, we are the greatest nation on earth, but other nations have a right to govern themselves rather than be controlled from Washington. I figured that other conservatives and southerners agreed with this viewpoint. One of my favorite quotes came from George Bush. He said that in 2001, “I just don’t think that it’s the role of the United States to walk into a country to say, ‘we do it this way, so should you’”.
I thought that, like Communism, after the Clinton failures, the ideas of nation building and military interventionism were thrown on the ash heap of history. In addition, for the first time in my life, Republicans controlled the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. Can you imagine it? We could finally roll back government spending and taxes. How about eliminating a few unconstitutional government agencies? Or even take steps to end the genocide of abortion? Just about anything was possible. Unfortunately, as they say, 9-11 changed everything. Rather than fighting to restore our government, President Bush pushed for the so-called Patriot Act which further stripped away our privacy and liberty in order to gain a little temporary security. American citizens, in their fear, willing gave up their rights in order to try to stay safe. After all, if you weren’t guilty, you had nothing to fear, right? Then came the terrible conflict in Iraq. I say that it was terrible because it was the first time that we preemptively provoked a conflict (unless you want to argue about either the Vietnam and the Spanish American War, though in both those cases the government came up with a rational explanation that later turned out to be false). Rather than focusing on punishing Osama Bin Laden for 9-11, we instead took over a sovereign nation, first in the name of weapons of mass destruction and later to spread democracy and freedom. To die to maintain and enhance the freedom and liberty of one’s own people is a noble goal. To fight on behalf of another nation or people’s freedom should be a choice made on a person-by-person basis rather than by our leaders. European monarchs of old and today’s dictators treat their soldiers like pawns in a chess game, sacrificing them to gain territory or aid allies, but I would like to think that the lives of our soldiers hold far more value.
Back to domestic concerns, rather than fight against federal involvement in education, President Bush pushed for No Child Left Behind. Also Bush failed in his duty to defend our borders by not punishing illegal immigration and refusing to pardon the border patrol agents who were imprisoned for doing their jobs. What about his delay in firing Rumsfeld, which likely cost Republican seats in 2006? Then we have the issue of the bailout. Normally, a rational fiscal conservative would have realized that government intervention caused the problem, but instead George Bush supported massive corporate welfare at your and my expense. On the other hand, what socially conservative programs did George Bush push? Has abortion been curtailed? Do we have greater school choice? He squandered away so much political capital on his war on terror, that he either ignored his opportunities domestically, or even worse, steadily moved us in the wrong direction.
True, I did campaign and vote for George Bush in 2000, but I didn’t repeat my mistake in 2004. I pinned so much hope on W. and he has disappointed on just about every front. He is not a small government advocate on either fiscal or foreign policy issues and he tricked the moral wing of the party into supporting his flawed plans under the banner of God and Country. Think John McCain is a fresh conservative change from the likes of George Bush? Think again. Until Republicans rediscover and embrace the constitutional conservative soul of the party they not only should lose, but they also must lose. As even the questionably conservative Mitt Romney noted, “When Republicans act like Democrats, America loses”. Demand better. Otherwise get used to more crappy leaders like Bush and McCain.