I know the temptation is still there, the “lesser of two evils” argument that may yet favor President Bush over John Kerry. Many Christian conservatives are not only tempted, they are enthusiastically on board.
And when I mean “Christian conservative” here I mean neither neo-conservative imperialists, nor the apocalyptic “Religious Right.” I refer rather to those who believe in Constitutional, limited government, hold to a non-interventionist foreign policy, and oppose the income tax. They believe that wars must be declared by Congress. They believe most federal departments should be scrapped, and may even oppose the federal War on Drugs.
Here are some reasons I have uncovered why so many Christian conservatives still support President Bush.
- He is a Christian. So was Jimmy Carter. How many Presidents did not profess to be Christian?
- He is pro-life. It is ironic, however, that this President can kill pregnant women and other civilians abroad whenever he wants, but is virtually powerless to protect the unborn at home.
- He is opposed to gay marriage and supports a Federal Marriage Amendment. But it’s not a vote he casts or a bill he signs into law. The amendment process by-passes the President.
- He is for tax cuts. But not corresponding budget cuts, thus actually raising taxes on everyone through the inflation tax and burdening the next generation. This is immoral.
- I like the guy. I concede this much if our nation actually operated under the Constitution and the office of the President was far less important than it is now, I’d agree that he might be an amiable, harmless enough guy to enjoy having as our President. Instead, he is the most powerful man who ever lived, and has often abused that power.
- He isn’t Clinton. Neither is John Kerry.
- The Supreme Court is at stake. How do we know? Old people don’t die as quickly as they used to. Besides, short of the election of a miraculous filibuster-proof Republican Senate, there’s no chance that a Republican President will be able to nominate strict constructionists to the federal bench.
- We must support incremental changes. The Republican Party is the realistic alternative for gradual change in the direction of smaller government, they say. So endorsing a President who, operating most of the time with an all-Republican Congress, enlarged government at the greatest rate in 35 years, is our last, best hope? When is it appropriate to stop supporting Republicans? If John McCain gets nominated? Michael Bloomberg?
- Third Parties want to have everything at once. To be a “purist” and vote third party can only make things worse by handing the election over to the enemy, they say. But that’s not true. The political strategy of defecting to the Libertarian or Constitution Parties, costing Bush the election and forcing John Kerry to deal with Iraq and a Republican Congress, is as realistic a political strategy as any. It may embolden conservatives and libertarians to kill the neo-con cancer in the party and clarify its values for 2006, 2008, and beyond. Christians who say “incremental change,” then turn around and act as if a one-term Kerry Presidency will doom Western Civilization for good. But if we are to be patient and be satisfied with incremental change, what’s wrong with waiting two years, four years, or more?
- The President has been courageous and steadfast in the War on Terror. But has he been right? Has he exercised sound judgment? Why hasn’t he fired anybody for intelligence failures and poor prognostication about Iraq? Is not the “War on Terror” just an excuse to broaden the federal governments powers at home and abroad? And is that consistent with conservative principle?
The case for Bush just does not add up. This is not suggesting that anyone should vote for Kerry. But the purpose of voting is not to get into guessing games and political calculations. One vote your vote is not going to swing the election, as Charles Hooper recently pointed out. So if you vote at all, it might as well be for who you would prefer to be President. It is not your fault that we have a two-party monopoly in our country. And it is also not your responsibility to support it in any way. If more people actually voted for who they want, rather than for who they think has the best chance of winning, we would actually honor the principles of democracy better, and at the same time keep the two power parties, who crave your votes, accountable.
For a conservative or a libertarian to vote for Bush today, is to render these movements to even greater irrelevancy. If voters do not register their disgust with the Warfare State, Welfare State, and Police State this election by defecting to a third party, then they never will. Thirty years from now, they will still be making excuses for Republican Presidents. And they will have forgotten what conservatism and libertarianism meant.
October 13, 2004