How to Pick a President
On the very eve of the election which some are overdramatizing as “the most important election of our times”, I have to reflect on why i find myself willing to support Bush with all of his imperfections and unable to warm to Kerry at all.
In a general way I feel that I hold to a fairly liberal perspective on social issues and am more conservative on fiscal issues. That’s the position of an old-style, Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and to some extent the Libertarian position as well. Based on that I had assumed that I’d agree with John Kerry on most of the social issues and agree with Bush mainly on economic issues.
So, I decided to compare my positions on the issues with those of the two major party candidates as stated on their websites and in position papers and speeches – I also threw in Michael Badnarik’s positions as well just for fun. Here are the results:
Bush Kerry Badnarik Me
School Choice For Against For For
Comprehensive Tax Cuts For Against For For
Gun Waiting Period Against For Against Against
Privatize Social Security For Against For For
War in Iraq For Against* Against For
Patriot Act For For* Against Against
National Health Care Against For Against Against
US Troops Under UN Command Against For Against Against
Kyoto Accords Against For Against Against
Oil Drilling in Alaska For Against For For
Partial Birth Abortion Against For For Against
Stem Cell Research Against For For For
Prayer in Schools For Against Against Against
Gay Marriage Ban For Against Against Against
Hate Crimes Law Against For Against Against
Increase Minimum Wage Against For Against Against
(* on these issues Kerry has taken positions both for and against, so I chose the position his record seems to suggest he actually holds)
As I see it these are the 14 issues which are either most important or at least of concern to the most people in America. Naturally my positions on the issues are the only ones which any rational, pragmatic person could hold.
I was surprised to find that on all but three of the issues I was basically in agreement with Bush. Naturally, those were all social issues. I was also surprised to find Kerry on the absolute wrong side of so many social issues. Even on one where I sort of agree with him he’s somewhat off base. He’s all out for gay marriage, I’m in favor of leaving it up to the states. That’s not exactly the same position, though we both oppose a federal ban.
When looked at as a group Kerry’s positions form a pretty coherent whole. If it takes power away from the people and gives it to government he’s all for it. Groups and numbers mean more to him than individuals, and he’s willing to weaken the nation to serve his agenda. Bush may have some questionable, downright creepy positions (like supporting the Patriot Act), but more often than not he’s on the right track, even when it’s for the wrong reasons. On the whole he’s at least trying to empower individuals more than government, even if he hasn’t been terribly successful at it so far. Badnarik’s even closer, of course, but still off on a couple of issues – especially the entrenched Libertarian isolationist/pacifist position.
So, Kerry does actually have positions, despite accusations that he’s a waffler. The problem is that his positions on most issues, especially the important ones, are just unacceptable. Bush is weak on performance, but his heart is mostly in the right place. Given that, I really have to vote for Bush because he at least offers some hope, while even Kerry’s as yet unfulfilled promises are promises of tyrrany and oppression. If Bush does what he promises the country will benefit. If Kerry gets into office and is at all successful it will be a disaster.
Really sort of a simple choice.