I have voted for nearly 30 years now and I cannot remember any election when I’ve felt less motivated to go to the polls. The candidates’ fiscal irresponsibility, negative advertising, lack of character, and inability to effectively communicate has left me dumbfounded. Nevertheless, I will vote on Tuesday, but mainly to honor the brave men and women who have given their lives to assure me that privilege.
Fiscal Irresponsibility: Republicans used to run on a promise of smaller government. They never delivered on that promise, but could at least be counted upon to grow the government slower than Democrats. That is no longer the case. One can no longer characterize Democrats as fiscally irresponsible; with record Federal deficits the Republicans seem to have beaten them at their own game. The huge deficits of the Bush Administration are not, as commonly believed, due to the war in Iraq. The measly $100 billion spent in Iraq each year is a drop in the bucket for a Federal Government that spends $2.3 billion each year. It is the unwillingness of politicians on both sides of the isle to cut pork, especially in the Department of Health and Human Services, that has bloated the federal budget.
Negative Advertising: Negative ads are cramming all forms of media, regardless of whether it is a seat in congress, a governor race or a state senator’s position. “Candidate A wants to give free college tuition to illegal Mexicans while he is increasing tuition for your children,” states one ad. “Candidate B voted against giving our soldiers body armor,” states another. This causes any sensible voter to wonder how stupid the politicians think we are. After all, is there any candidate from either party that is willing to use taxpayer dollars to favor illegal aliens over the children of tax paying citizens? Is there any politician that actually wants our soldiers to be without body armor? Is there anyone out there in public office that enjoys the suffering of Michael Fox? Of course not! I’m so sick of these negative ads that I have resorted to watching re-runs of the 1975 Ali-Frazier “thriller in Manila”. When my wife asks me what I am watching I reply “Anything but the political ads.”
Lack of Character: In the last few years we’ve experienced way more political scandal on both sides of the isle than I can remember in a long time. We’ve got William Jefferson (D, LA) under investigation for bribery, the Abramoff-Reed Indian Gambling scandal, Tom Delay (R, TX) being indicted in 2005, Duke Cunningham (R, CA) who resigned his congressional seat over bribery conspiracy charges and countless others. One starts to wonder if the character of our statesmen has begun a period of permanent decline or whether our politicians are now more likely to sacrifice each other in the name of political gain. Perhaps term limits for senators and representatives would repress the tendency to accumulate power and wealth at the expense of the taxpaying public.
After Tuesday: It is unclear whether or not Tuesday’s voting will give the Democrats a majority in either the house or senate. As far as the health of the republic is concerned, it probably doesn’t make much difference. Despite Bush’s statements to the contrary, Rumsfeld will be gone shortly and U.S. troops will no longer be present in large numbers in Iraq by the time the presidential election comes around in 2008. Islamic fundamentalists will continue to devise ways to destroy America and all for which it stands. The bombing of our marine barracks in Lebanon, the Cole disaster, the original attack on the World Trade Center and the tragedy of 911 have not been enough to awaken a sleeping American public. Tragically, only when a future attack even greater than 911 occurs on our home soil, will the American public figure out that the United States and all other freedom-loving countries are engaged in a generations-long struggle to survive the threat of radical Islam. Regardless of the future course of American foreign policy, no matter how much we pander and cater to terrorists, that awakening will occur. When it does, all of the political concerns highlighted above will be meaningless in comparison.