Only One Choice

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A friend recently suggested that the way to get back at the Republican Party for its hypocrisy is to vote for a minor-party candidate. No, that won’t work. The only way to "get back at" or harm the Republican Party is to elect Democrats.

A vote is not an expression of philosophy. If that’s what you want to do, write a letter or send an e-mail. A vote is just an anonymous number that becomes one part of a larger anonymous number. Numbers don’t say anything at all. They just count or measure.

As far as the Republican Party is concerned, a vote not cast at all or one cast for anybody but Sen. John Kerry is a vote for George Bush. Some people seem to have difficulty accepting the fact that this, for all practical purposes, is a two-party country. The choice is Kerry or Bush, and that’s that. If you dislike them both, too bad; that’s still your only choice. Come next January, Bush or Kerry will be sworn in for a four-year term. You will be stuck with four years’ worth of consequences, whether you voted for a third party or stayed home.

Some say it’s always a choice of the lesser of two evils. Well, the Israeli poet and novelist Amos Oz has said that in these times one has to learn to distinguish between degrees of evil. Neither Bush nor Kerry is a conservative, so you can forget that conservative-versus-liberal claptrap. If you look at their positions on the major issues, you will see they are so close a fat man couldn’t get between them.

Another thing you will see is that both men are talking mainly about subjects that the Constitution does not authorize the federal government to do anything about. I’m talking about health care, welfare and education. These are subjects the Constitution intended for the states to handle.

The national government stopped paying any attention to the Constitution with the election of Abraham Lincoln. That’s what the War Between the States was really all about. The South wanted the constitutional republic, which strictly limited the powers of the federal government. The North wanted a centralized national government, which would itself define the limits of its powers — or, to put it another way, would have unlimited powers. That was an old argument that had begun at the Constitutional Convention, and it ended at Appomattox.

But before you bemoan the loss of constitutional government, let me ask you if you are willing to give up Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These are, of course, all socialist programs, as are the state-run schools and state-built highways. Most Americans today are socialists and don’t know it. Years ago, the Socialist Party stopped running in national elections because the Democrats and Republicans had stolen all of its programs.

The main differences between Bush and Kerry are how they will conduct foreign policy and their constituencies. Bush’s constituency is largely the very rich, the big corporations and the right-wing ideologues who think cheering while someone else goes to war is being patriotic and conservative.

Since I’m not rich, not a stockholder in a big corporation and think that going to war unnecessarily is liberal and unpatriotic, I’ll probably push the Democratic lever, which will please my Confederate ancestors. After all, it was the Republican Party that (1) destroyed the constitutional republic, (2) invaded the South and (3) raped what was left with Reconstruction.

I realize 139 years is a long time to hold a grudge, but what the hey, I’m of Celtic ancestry. Besides, the Republican Party hasn’t changed. It’s still for big government and big business.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969—71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. He now writes a syndicated column which is carried on Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. Write to Charley Reese at P.O. Box 2446, Orlando, FL 32802.

© 2004 by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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