Bush vs. Kerry?
At the conclusion of the 2004 presidential debates, there are some issues to weigh in the minds of Americans. Most Americans are not aware of or believers in the gains of voting for third parties. So let me take a look at the two likely candidates, and we'll discuss not only what there is to gain and lose in accordance to their policies, but hopefully it should illustrate why both are grossly incompetent for the job.
Senator John Kerry
Kerry plans to buff up our armed forces, border patrol, airport security checkpoints as well as increase funding for education, socialize health care, "fix" social security, increase welfare benefits, federalize medicaid, and balance the budget. Oh yeah, he's going to do this WITHOUT raising taxes and also going to give the lower/middle class a greater tax cut. We have an emoticon on our message board Monticello that best summarizes Kerry's concepts of how government budgets work:
a fruit jumping
In fact, the only source of revenue that Kerry has promised is a roll back of Bush's tax cuts for everyone making over the $200,000 mark. This is valued at, according to Kerry himself in the second presidential debate, $89 billion... even projecting it's revenue slightly higher as our economy further recovers, the $100 billion or so would not crack the potential trillions in new expenditures he's proposing. Even the most tax-happy Liberal must concede that Bush's retort that this will hurt small business (who make $200,000 a year but often cannot afford to find the tax loopholes that their competitors can), and thus have a negative effect for many middle/lower class Americans. The $800 billion that Kerry believes he can raise by hyper-taxing the rich (which I remind you includes businesses big and small) hardly begins to tap the massive expenditures he proposes, especially considering that few to no actual programs the government oversees will be going away, and also including that these funds need to also cover a half-trillion dollar deficit if he seeks to keep his balanced budget promise.
Despite this most obvious complaint against Kerry's politics, he offers a lot of other "solutions" to America's problems. In fact, one might even think he is offering any "solution" which he thinks will win him the most votes. Let's break down these "solutions" as witnessed in the three Presidential debates, and see if they're actual solutions or just campaign promises gone awry.
War in Iraq
Despite his party's popular support being largely anti-war, Kerry proposes no solid exit strategy and has in fact committed himself to dedicating more troops! His changes would be to ask the U.N. to share the costs and casualties, and in return he offers U.N. & European contractors a share of the reconstruction pot. He doesn't explain exactly how the U.N. involvement will actually aid a more Democratic Iraq, he just expects it will, at no perceived additional cost to us. Iraqi's will get fewer reconstruction dollars, which Kerry will use to pay off international interests for their "help", while American troops will largely remain in Iraq, many in the guise of United Nations troops. Kerry suggests more training of Iraq police forces (something Bush is currently doing as well) and a summit of some sort. As we wait on that and the international inaction, the occupation of Iraq will still continue. Essentially, Kerry points out that the war is a mistake, and in the same breath vows to continue making that mistake.
On the other hand, Kerry talks favorably into forcing the U.S. hand on Kim Jung Il, who is known to have several WMD's. He plans to do this by kicking out neighboring superpowers from the diplomatic negotiations and making talks bi-lateral (U.S./N.K.), and agreeing to mutual disarmament. The level of naivety in this approach is so incredibly high that even a complete moron like Bush can openly mock it. It also flatly contradicts the inclusion of international support that Kerry calls for in Iraq (as in North Korea he wants to exclude China, Russia and Japan from the negotiation table... hardly an internationally inclusive approach).
In the debates, Kerry totally ignores the fiscal insolvency of social security. The plan of action Kerry suggests is, well, nothing. He doesn't acknowledge that social security is in trouble, even in light of chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan telling us flat out that it is. He criticizes the President's plan then offers no plan besides raising taxes on the rich - when Social Security is a $300 billion a year expense (considering much of it is off the traditional budget does not address it's full expenditure) and Kerry has no plans whatsoever to sustain it or carry it besides taxing the rich even more. Whatever his plan, he's assured us that this reform will not reduce benefits or raise taxes but will fix the fact that social security doesn't earn a dime and is going to flatly fail. I interpret this approach to ignoring the problem, which is that social security takes money from payers today and puts it into the hands of earners - a straight redistribution that earns nothing at all over time, covering no graduations in the expenses of the program that occur from boosts in the population. This differs from every private retirement program in the market today - it's totally fiscally irresponsible.
Health Care & Medicare
Kerry wants completely government-run health care. I could get into refuting the problems of socialized health care, but why bother the plan he proposes won't work even on his own terms? Kerry doesn't define where the money will come from for this plan which could range in the trillions, all new expenses. I merely assume that's going to be coming from our pockets. No new taxes and fiscal responsibility from a Democrat? Right.
So, in conclusion, Kerry's claims of fiscal responsibility in office are contradicted by a lack of any fiscal solvency in any plan he's proposed. He said clearly in the debate that he won't increase taxes for anyone making less than $200,000 a year. That won't happen unless he's prepared to tax the rich (and businesses) in upwards of 80-90% of their paychecks (which kills small business, causes corporate conglomeration, and will result in a significant increase in market prices). Hope he doesn't flip-flop on that decision and decide to tax us poor people too, after all, he did vote for tax increases 98 times during his career in the Senate. Since he doesn't even promote a clear Iraq exit strategy, begging for an international quagmire, no Liberty-minded individual should consider a vote for him worthwhile.
President George W. Bush
The President wasn't for a complete lack of stupid things to say, although (unlike Kerry) I think Bush believes all of the stupid things that come out of his mouth. His international plans are more likely to succeed than Kerry's, although those of us against the Iraq war find little virtue in the policy and actions Bush successfully implements. Let's just jump straight into the issues Bush made relevant in his end of the debate banter.
The War in Iraq
Bush still refuses to consider the Iraqi invasion a mistake, despite Kerry's fair criticism that every justification by the Bush administration for it has fallen on it's ear. The costs and casualties climb, and there is no practical end in sight for it. When asked about the conditions necessary to exit Iraq, Bush said... "When our general is on the ground and Ambassador Negroponte tells me that Iraq is ready to defend herself from these terrorists, that elections will have been held by then, that their stability and that they're on their way to, you know, a nation that's free; that's when. And I hope it's as soon as possible.". The precondition on waiting for Bush has a lot to do with the opinions of the new Iraq regime, and whether it feels itself "ready" to administer the new Iraqi government. Well, if that is the litmus we won't be leaving soon, as it's in every political interest not to want American troops to leave.
Bush's vaunted statistic on Al Qaeda, the 75% capture rate, is definitely not terrible. It is definitely not impressive or where we should be at 3 years after 9/11. Al Qaeda still exists, it's leadership with Osama intact, and it is still recruiting. The capture rate should be 100% in 3 years. I agree with Richard Clarke's assessment that the Iraq war was an unnecessary diversion from Al Qaeda, and believe that Iraq was the 75%/100% difference. We are not as secure from Al Qaeda as we could be as a direct result.
Abortion & Stem Cell Research
No matter what your view is on abortion, there is no Constitutional basis for saying it's the President's job to ban or finance it. These are decisions best left to the states and people of the United States. The religious right applauds Bush on his open ban on a federal level, while his opponent conversely wants federal-exclusive funds to conduct it. Both seem to want the Federal government to get involved, although Bush seems more aggressive on that point, where it seems unquestionable that Bush will enforce it if elected.
Straights-Only Marriage Amendment
What President Bush does understand is that the Constitution limits the power of the federal government. The part he doesn't seem to get is that it's that way for a reason. His latest idea is to usurp the state's right to treat marriage how they see fit, by creating a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as between "a man and a woman". While we're at it, let's define religion as "Christian and Catholic" and government as "all powerful rule". The justification Bush uses is absurd: he's afraid the courts are defining marriage arbitrarily... so now he wants Congress to define marriage arbitrarily! Libertarians beg to differ, having it their way, churches and private parties would draw up marriage contracts themselves and the people would be free to respect or disrespect whatever unions they choose. In that scenario, the sanctity of marriage is preserved by the church, while judges, Congress and the President retain no say in the matter.
Summing things up, the fundamental issues remain similar to Kerry. We won't be leaving Iraq and we will be expanding government power. Bush has stated several things regarding moderation of the taxing authority, but (as he all too often says of his opponent) he has no record and no credibility.
Bush vs. Kerry: Who Wins?
As we've outlined in this Libertarian look at debate issues, the two major parties don't look like very good choices. Both Bush (as he has proven in office) and Kerry (as he proves every time he opens his mouth) are unfit for our Presidency. Be that from a standpoint of the War in Iraq, the budget, or government influence in our lives, both candidates have made mistakes and have a chief misunderstanding of how their "solutions" actually work.
The difference between the two can be best summarized by the following analogy often used by Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik:
Let's say you're on death row (unjustly) and you have a 50% chance of getting of getting the electric chair, 49% chance of lethal injection, or a 1% chance of escape. Do you choose the electric chair because it's the most likely outcome?
In lew of these vast inadequacies in our two major candidates, from their own words, ask yourself: is it more worthwhile to vote for escape even if it's not gonna happen? If Bush or Kerry wins, we lose. Their policies make that clear. Please consider the ideological benefits of voting third party, especially for Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik, in 2004. Escape is never a wasted vote - at least you tried.