- Fiscal Mismanagement
- Polarizing America
- Misdirection on the War on Terror
- A Fundimental Inability to Communicate
Part V: Others Can Do Better
So, after hammering on the Bush Administration for four long posts, the $64,000 question for many people is, can anybody do better? But I would have to ask that, given that all that we've seen and all that we've experienced, would a change in the presidency really make things worse? I do not recall Clinton, Bush Sr., Reagan, Carter or Nixon having so much go so wrong all at the same time. The waters are already exceptionally rough and getting rougher; so what do we have to lose in switching captains?
Some ardent Bush supporters might argue that, if the presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry really could do better than Bush, the election at this moment would be a slam dunk for him. After all, if Kerry really did have all the answers, people would turn to him en masse. Recent polls, however, show Bush and Kerry running neck and neck. Surely this is a sign that Kerry doesn't have what it takes.
They do have a point, although I think that it is more of a sad statement of American politics that the Democrats could run a block of wood and a brick, or the reincarnations of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the results of the next election would still be a near tie. That's how polarized American politics are at this point, and how hardened Democrats and Republicans have become with their positions. And while it is true that the Democrats appear to have leaned more towards the wood than the reincarnation of Roosevelt, it is still discouraging to see that Democrats and Republicans think so badly of each other that both see an election victory by the other as "a total disaster".
Speaking as a resident of a province that has swung more wildly in the past fifteen years than American politics could ever dream of doing, I can say with absolute certainty that a Kerry presidency will mean that the sun will continue to rise and set every day for Republicans. Taxes may be a little higher and there may be more government regulation, but no Republican supporter is going to die or be forced out of business any more than if Bush is reelected president. Anybody who thinks that a Kerry victory is going to be a disaster of biblical proportions really needs to reassess their perspective on the effect political decisions in Washington have on their daily lives.
I am less able to say the same thing about George Bush. He's not a Hitler and he's not a war criminal, but in four short years in office, his Administration has seriously compromised America's fiscal balance, failed to keep Americans employed, and committed a significant portion of the country's military to two major campaigns, one of which for dubious reasons. Relations between America and its old allies are strained, at best, and the credibility of the United States throughout the world is at a low ebb, just three years after a massive outpouring of international public sympathy.
Does Kerry have all the answers? Hardly. He's probably stumbling around in the dark with the rest of us. But in this regard, he would be, at worst, as inept as Bush. More importantly, I believe he would be more open to compromise. He would have to be, as he would probably have to govern with a Republican-controlled Congress. And I believe that he would do better at listening to the players in Congress and in the Senate and govern in a more bipartisan fashion. He wouldn't have Bush's level of bullheaded conviction that got us into this quagmire at home and abroad. There is something to be said for leadership, but sometimes good leadership is the ability to listen well.
I'm pretty sure that the United States will continue to be around as a functioning entity in 2008, George Bush re-election or no. George W. Bush doesn't govern the states, there are plenty of dissenting voices in congress and senate to bring opposing viewpoints to the fore, and the compromise that continues from day to day on most issues of the day will ensure that most Americans will be well served by their government. However, at this point in time, a vote for Kerry is a vote back towards the centre. And in the long run, I think that is a healthier path for America to take.
And what is good for America is good for the whole world.