Monday, October 25, 2004

None Of The Above?

My local conservative newspaper the Detroit News made their endorsement this weekend and they picked "none of the above." The Detroit News endorsed George Bush in 2000 and has NEVER endorsed a Democrat. I sent off a letter-to-the-editor in response and here is what I wrote.
In one sense I can admire your choice of "none of the above" as being commendable in understanding that President Bush has not lived up to conservative principles. He has made numerous mistakes and dashed conservative values such as fiscal responsibility and the protection of individual rights.

But on the other hand it seems you limited your "none of the above" to only two of the presidential candidates that are on the Michigan ballot. President Bush and John Kerry do not have a monopoly.

As the Detroit News is a conservative voice I would not expect you would consider independent Ralph Nader or Green Party candidate David Cobb. But I wonder did you examine the idea of endorsing either the Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik or Constitution Party candidate Michael Peroutka?

Why would you essentially recommend to voters to leave the ballot blank in the presidential slot just because you've limited your choices to just the two major parties? Maybe it's not too late for an endorsement of one of the third party candidates. Maybe it's time to think outside of the two party box.
The Detroit News editorial that revealed their thinking for not endorsing Bush is damning of the president. Consider some of their reasoning.

"Four years ago, the choice was clear. We endorsed George W. Bush based on his promises of fiscal conservatism, limited government and prudence in foreign affairs. Today, we sadly acknowledge that the president has failed to deliver on those promises."

"So we are left with a decision we detest but are nonetheless compelled to make: The Detroit News will not lend its endorsement to a candidate who has made too many mistakes, nor to one who offers a governing philosophy that we reject."

"...this president has a knack for squandering success.

With the nation and the world firmly behind his operation in Afghanistan, he turned his sights too quickly to Iraq and Saddam Hussein, his family's old nemesis. Acting on intelligence that was faulty and too eagerly interpreted by the administration to match its agenda, Bush moved against Iraq without the support of key allies.

We backed the invasion of Iraq, accepting the Bush assertion that Saddam's weapons programs presented a gathering threat to the United States. While America, the world and the Iraqi people are better off with Saddam gone, we now believe that Iraq was a fight that might have waited, or been avoided altogether. Regardless, a president who takes the nation to war has an obligation to win that war as quickly, efficiently and painlessly as possible. Bush has not done that. The management of the conflict in Iraq is abysmal. The United States went into Iraq without enough international support and brought too few of our own troops to complete the job.

In shorting the generals, in allowing political concerns to trump military strategy, in assuming too much cooperation from the Iraqi people, Bush allowed Iraq to become a hotbed of terrorism, the very condition he struck to prevent. The messy result has allowed our enemies to portray the United States as a villain, and use our role as a rallying cry for terrorists elsewhere. There were too many poor calls, including disbanding the Iraqi army, leaving the borders undefended and trusting shady Iraqi nationals, all of which combined to turn what could have been a stunning liberation into a still uncertain, nation-building morass. Iraq has stretched America's military capabilities, strained friendships and will hamstring future strikes against rogue regimes. Such bad management cannot be forgiven in a wartime president.

At home, Bush has shocked us with his free-spending ways. Non-defense, domestic spending increased more than 30 percent during his term. At the same time, the president cut taxes. Together, the two resulted in a massive federal budget deficit that could have been mitigated had Bush kept his promise of fiscal conservatism. This was a failure of leadership. The American people will accept a call to sacrifice in times of crisis. But instead of asking for sacrifice, Bush delivered excess.

He plunged the federal government even deeper into the day-to-day operations of local school districts with the ill-advised No Child Left Behind Act; he failed to veto even one of Congress' pork-laden spending bills; he pushed ahead with his own spending agenda, including a confusing and deceptively expensive prescription drug plan, without regard to the budget demands of homeland security and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. On trade, he exhibited protectionist tendencies that hurt American industry.

Finally, on the matter of civil liberties, Bush has turned away from the conservative doctrine that the Constitution must be strictly observed. His Patriot Act contained many important elements to break down the walls between law enforcement agencies and allow them to respond to advancements in technology. But it also trashed personal privacy protections, suspended due process safeguards and upset the balance between the power of the government and the rights of the individual.

The president's record does not recommend him for re-election."

As a progressive I can agree not only with the lack of endorsement of Bush, but also with many of the reasons the Detroit News cited. I've long not supported the Iraq War as I never believed in the weapons of mass destruction or link to 9/11 that was peddled by the Bush Administration. The Detroit News is quite accurate in assailing Bush (once the war was started) for total mismanagement of the war.

I also agree with the free spending, fiscal irresponsibility that Bush has embarked on. The pork has been served relentlessly particularily to corporations and the rich. And the tax cuts heavily weighed for the rich haven't helped the economy at all. The rich investor class for the most part simply pocketed the extra bucks and did nothing to reinvest into business as the trickle-down theory claims they will do.

The Detroit News is absolutely correct in their assessment of the Bush attack on civil liberties. Most of the Patriot Act has been wrong and should be allowed to sunset. And as anyone who has faced the prospect of being forced into "free speech zones" when practicing the first amendment of free speech knows how low Bush regards dissent.

The Detroit News would never endorse a Democrat and I nearly agree with this as well. They regard John Kerry as too far left. Here is where I differ, I regard Kerry as a centrist on too many issues and not far enough left to satisfy me. I certainly don't understand what Kerry intends to do about Iraq and he has not openly considered a quick withdrawal.

Disagreeing with the Detroit News, I think government has roles to play. For instance it seems obvious that the free market system is not working in regards to something that should be simple yet is important to our nation, the availability of flu vaccine. I can think of other areas where the free market is failing, the airline industry to name one.

But I have to admire the Detroit News for sticking to their ideals.

The full non-endorsement...


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