I will not apologize for my support of Texas Gov. George W. Bush for president, despite knowing that I am perhaps in the minority on this Democratic and third-party-leaning college campus. I realize that Bush is not a perfect candidate, as I am sure most would concede that Vice President Al Gore and Ralph Nader arent perfect candidates. We are seeing more and more in American politics that voters cast their ballots for the candidate they dislike the least, which I think is crummy. As a moderate that leans Republican, I want to give you a reason to vote for Bush on Nov. 7.
I agree with him on many individual issues, but also on the broader issues of leadership, character and the overall role of government in our lives. On the major issues of the campaign, Gore accepts the status quo while Bush seeks changes and reforms. With education, Bush has a strong record of increased test scores and local control in his state of Texas. Bush wants stronger accountability, local control and teacher testing. Bush has said repeatedly that reading is the new civil right and that instead of passing children from grade to grade based on age, it should be based on what they know. This is a difference between him and Gore, who insisted at the third presidential debate that Most schools are good. This might have something to do with the millions of dollars given to him by teacher unions that would rather not have teacher testing or accountability.
On the issue of Medicare and prescription drugs, Bush wants to subsidize coverage for the poorer Americans and reform the system. It starts by giving money right away to governors to help solve the problem at the state level. Bush wants HMOs to have a role, something that Gore is against. Instead of an open marketplace where several companies have competing plans so you have a choice on what plan suits you best, Gore instead wants the federal government to become the Big HMO and handle everything. And since the government cant even handle simple services, it troubles me that Gore wants some pencil-pusher in Washington making all the decisions.
Social Security is known as the third rail of American politics because if you touch it, it may shock you. But if you dont touch it, you cant fix it. Most Americans our age believe aliens will be living on earth before theyll see any Social Security money when they retire. Gore wants to leave it alone, except to throw more money at it. Bush is leaning on a bipartisan solution that would allow younger workers a chance to invest a portion into the stock market, which would most certainly yield a higher return rate than the 2 percent Social Security does now. However, this will not affect current retiree benefits, something that you will hear Gore say repeatedly from here to Election Day.
Taxes have become a big issue. Right off the bat, I must say that Bushs tax plan will never pass Congress as it stands. However, the principle is sound - all Americans deserve tax relief. Bush wants to take six million more Americans off the tax rolls altogether, with everyone else getting a decreasing percentage back. Gore, who along with President Clinton promised a middle-class tax cut in 1992 that hasnt reached most peoples mailboxes yet, is at it again. But you only get money back if you live your life the way Gore wants you to live it, with tax credits when you do certain things. Gore wants you somehow to believe that everyone pays a flat tax and Bush gives all of this money just to the top 1 percent, who pay 50 percent in income taxes and a third of total income tax revenue. The truth is that this tax cut plan and all of Gores big government plans are based on projected surplus figures, and none of us have to be world-class economists to know a surplus means the government has too much money.
On foreign policy and the military, Bush is prepared to lead. He has shown a stronger-than-most knowledge with regard to world affairs and would be good as president because of his CEO mentality of looking at the facts and being decisive. It doesnt hurt that former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney is Bushs running mate and former Gen. Colin Powell could be Bushs secretary of state. Bush wants to rebuild the morale of the military by providing better pay and better equipment. Bush also would limit our goodwill missions that too often have no clear purpose and no clear results.
Bush wants less dependence on foreign oil by drilling in America; Gore is against that. Bushs environmental record is not as bad as most would have you believe since Texas is a big state with many air-polluting industries. As governor he has worked for tougher regulations, although he is not an environmentalist like Gore. However, it should be noted that Texas is a part of the United States so Gores environmental expertise could have been used to help problems in Texas. As well, Gore wants solar-powered cars that could affect a big industry here in Michigan, the auto industry.
Bush believes in the Second Amendment - the right to bear arms - for law-abiding citizens. He wants laws on the books to be more toughly enforced and has given out trigger locks in his state. This has not been done at the national level because they want gun control as an issue. Both Bush and Gore support the death penalty.
Bush is pro-life, and I differ from the governor on this issue. I believe that Bush will not use this as a litmus test for the Supreme Court justices that he appoints. It should also be said that the justices go through a long appointment process with the Senate, and oftentimes the best appointee is someone who will survive this difficult process. This is a tough issue, and it is not my top issue because it does not affect me. I understand who it affects and if it is your top issue, then perhaps another candidate is better for you.
In broader focus, I am impressed with Bushs leadership and character. The son of a president, Bush has been CEO of the second biggest state in the union for six years. He has worked with Republicans and Democrats to deliver an agenda of reform. This is in sharp contrast to the past eight years of scandal and bickering in Washington. We were promised Social Security and Medicare reform and we have not received it. While Gore may take credit for a good economy, it should be said that politicians have very little to do with a good economy. The people drive the economy. The industries they work for drive this economy, industries that have been labeled evil by Gore in this game of class warfare.
Finally, I do think personality plays a role with regard to the American presidency. In order to pass your agenda, you must be a leader and you must have strong values, you must be a good communicator and you must work well with people. This is where Bush is truly better than Gore. That is why I support Bush and I hope you will consider supporting him as well.
Michael Webber, a State News undergraduate columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.