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Four More Years?

by Lex Concord Friday, Sep. 05, 2003 at 2:30 AM
lex@lexconcord.com http://www.lexconcord.com/

With polls showing that up to 16% of the electorate is philosophically libertarian, this could be the real swing vote in 2004. Will libertarians decide that the Democratic candidate is the lesser of two evils for once? Or will they simply stay home in disgust on Election Day?

Four More Years?

Lex Concord

Just four short months ago, President Bush looked unbeatable. Iraq had fallen quickly with minimal American casualties, the economy was poised to recover, and the Democrats were in disarray. Today, the outlook is much less promising for the Republicans. Every day brings new reports of American deaths and terrorist activity in Iraq. The economy looks better in government reports, but not to the millions of long-term unemployed voters. Vermont Governor Howard Dean has emerged as the clear Democratic front-runner, speaking to large, enthusiastic crowds. If President Bush wants to salvage this rapidly deteriorating situation and win a second term, what should he do?

Promising more of the same from the past four years, or smearing Dean as too liberal won't cut it. More and more Americans are realizing that a tax cut today does little good if government spending spirals out of control, increasing the deficits and our future tax bills. Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, like Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, are nowhere to be found.

Dean is the governor of our most liberal state, but he has governed as a fiscal conservative, balancing the Vermont budget every year. Dean's support of the Second Amendment may be overstated, but so is the President's. Dean wants to increase federal government involvement in health care, but so does Bush. The President's campaign advisers may use Dean's support of civil unions for gay couples against him, but it's an issue that will likely appeal only to social conservatives who would never vote Democratic anyway. The rest of us will be concerned with more important issues.

If the President wants to win a second term, he should immediately announce a timetable for extracting all U.S. forces from Iraq. The invasion was supposed to be a liberation, and a liberated people should govern themselves. An immediate pullback might be impractical and leave Iraq in chaos, but a staged withdrawal, slowly turning control back to the Iraqi people and reducing the number of American troops at risk, would be a responsible course to follow. It would also serve to answer critics at home and abroad who are understandably confused on what the real motives for the invasion might have been. The timetable should be flexible, but in no case should extend past November 1, 2004. If President Bush wants to start erasing doubts about his integrity, a promise to be kept by Election Day would be a good place to start.

After dealing with the nagging questions about his exit strategy for Iraq, President Bush should turn his attention to another point of vulnerability -- his Administration's blatant disregard for our civil liberties. More and more Americans are realizing that the Patriot Act, like the war on Iraq, was both unconstitutional and unnecessary. Republican candidates can generally count on the support of pro-liberty voters, who view the Democrats as greater enemies of the Bill of Rights, but Bush should not count on the pro-liberty vote this time around, since he has done little to seek it.

With polls showing that up to 16% of the electorate is philosophically libertarian, this could be the real swing vote in 2004. Will the Libertarian Party finally break through with a significant showing, thanks to the Patriot Act? Will libertarians decide that the Democratic candidate is the lesser of two evils for once? Or will they simply stay home in disgust on Election Day? President Bush should make a bold move to reclaim this part of the crumbling Republican coalition. He should ask for Attorney General John Ashcroft's resignation, then pledge to tone down enforcement of the Patriot Act, and let it expire.

Bush may have the social conservative vote locked up, but fiscal conservatives are beginning to wonder why they voted for him last time. Starting with Bill Clinton's bloated budget, the President has increased federal spending by 20% in just three years. His unchecked spending increases and a soft economy have led to record budget deficits and a growing claim on our future wages for interest payments on the ballooning national debt. It's time to junk the "compassionate conservative" neosocialist platform, and draw up a new set of budget plans for the next four years, if Bush hopes to be around to implement them. Start with a 5% across-the-board spending cut the first year, then freeze spending for the next three years. Mandatory cost of living adjustments in some programs would force targeted cuts in others, but fiscal discipline and leadership on such a modest scale shouldn't be too challenging for any Harvard MBA worthy of that degree. Holding the line on spending for just a few years would quickly erase the deficit, and save American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars.

Will President Bush withdraw U.S. Forces from Iraq, dump Ashcroft, and reinvent himself as a true fiscal conservative? It hardly seems likely, given his record from the past few years. Small-government voters are unlikely to waste their votes on a Democrat, but as Bush continues to blur the differences between the two old parties, many will view a Libertarian vote as a more viable option. Libertarian candidates Michael Badnarik and Gary Nolan don't yet have the following of a Howard Dean or a Ross Perot, but at some point, Americans fed up with bigger government and declining freedoms will seek out a candidate willing to say enough is enough.

That candidate doesn't reside in the White House.

------------------------------------------------

Lex Concord writes on politics and current events.

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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 9 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
TITLE AUTHOR DATE
I heard Dean speak Dan The Bassman Friday, Sep. 05, 2003 at 11:50 PM
Dean is a moderate wavemaster Saturday, Sep. 06, 2003 at 12:45 AM
Dennis Kucinich pollster Saturday, Sep. 06, 2003 at 1:46 AM
Pay NO ATTENTION to Dennis kuschinich Pay NO ATTENTION to Dennis kuschinich Saturday, Sep. 06, 2003 at 2:36 AM
Kucinich is a Commie Justin Raimondo Saturday, Sep. 06, 2003 at 3:11 AM
Dennis Kucinich Dennis Kucinich Saturday, Sep. 06, 2003 at 3:18 AM
Me pollster Saturday, Sep. 06, 2003 at 12:57 PM
Justin Raimondo The ghost of Sen. Joseph McCarthy Saturday, Sep. 06, 2003 at 12:58 PM
Gary Nolan Info more rational Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2004 at 9:20 AM

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