Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's 2008 -- Election Year -- Why Do I Dread It So?

I will continue my commentary on The Arminian Remonstrance later tonight or tomorrow, but since it is the night of the first big political contest for the Presidential election in the Iowa Caucus, and since my own state of South Carolina will hold its primary in just a few weeks (still WAY too soon in my book), I figure it's time to talk about whom I am going to support.

I complained last year about how early the presidential campaign started, and my opinion is no different now. No sooner had the 2006 mid-term elections ended than candidates annouced their bids, started campaigning and showed up on the news every night. It's ridiculous, and the constant campaigning and never-ending lust of candidates for office will be the death of our nation... Okay, I'll reserve more comment on that until later.

As I said at least twice last year, I couldn't vote for ANY Democrat, under ANY circumstances. That hasn't changed, and barring a miracle, never will. That said, I've also remained non-commital on most of the Republican candidates. To put it bluntly, no Republican is a Conservative in the mold of Ronald Reagan. No candidate is a leader of the Conservative movement, and none has proven to me that they are reliable in keeping their word on a variety of issues.

If I could sorta take the candidates apart and build my own -- a composite candidate -- I'd probably take the economic policies of Ron Paul, the immigration policies of Duncan Hunter, the social positions of Mike Huckabee, the business sense of Mitt Romney, the personal heroism of John McCain, the law and order record of Rudy Guiliani and the foreign policy of Fred Thompson. Naturally, that's not an option.

So, I'll start by looking at a few of the candidates negatives -- positions that persuade me I cannot vote for certain candidates -- at least not at the primary level. First, I can't vote in the primary for a candidate who supported amnesty for illegal immigrants, supported an unconstitutional "campaign finance reform" plan, undermined the federal court choices for President Bush and supports homosexual unions or marriage -- or at least opposes a constitutional amendment clarifying what marriage is. Though I respect his service to the nation and personal courage, I can't vote for John McCain.

Rudy Guiliani is a fiscal Conservative, but a social liberal -- he supports abortion and homosexual marriage. His personal life is a mess -- his kids won't support him, he has been married three times with evidence of hanky-panky while in office.... I respect his law and order reputation and his rock solid leadership in crises and on foreign policy positions -- but I can't vote for Rudy.

Massachusetts was a mess when Mitt Romney was elected Governor. As much as was possible fiscally, and being forced to work with a democrat legislature and a liberal state beauracracy, he did a decent job. However, for a dedicated Mormon, he was quite the social liberal, at least until he decided he was going to run for President, or slightly before. Since he entered the race, he has "changed" his positions on abortion (now pro-life), illegal immigration (once favored a form of amnesty) and he championed a government run healthcare plan in his state (a position he still hasn't deserted). The "flip-flopper" award for the primary season goes to Mitt -- and until I can see some more evidence or be convinced that he isn't just saying what I want to hear, I can't vote for him in the primary.

The candidate I most dislike at this point in the campaign is going to surprise some people. As a governor, he raised taxes -- several times and in several ways -- while also almost tripling spending in his state. He supported amnesty for illegal aliens, including giving their children in-state tuition, issuing state drivers licenses to them, and providing other social services for illegals. He has criticized the war effort against Islamofacism, and has called for the closure of Gauntanamo Bay, Cuba -- a detention facility for illegal combatants in the war against our terrorist enemies -- to "gain their favor." He's suggested we ought to bring these prisoners into the United States courts and accord to them constitutional privileges. Consistent with his "merciful" stance toward those in prison, he granted pardons to over 1,000 violent criminals -- more than the previous three Governors of the state, and one of those was Bill Clinton.

But the most disquieting thing I've witnessed lately is the cynical campaign tactics he's employeed. For instance, asking in feigned innocents about his opponent Mitt Romney's Mormon faith on a radio program, "I don't know much about Mormon's -- don't they believe the devil and Jesus were brothers?" He knew better than that -- He's a Baptist preacher -- he better know what Mormon's believe! That was just a political cheap shot. And the press conference a few days ago in which he announced that he had produced a negative ad about Mitt Romney -- but that he would not run it publicly. Then -- this was as audacious as it was brilliant -- he told the press he'd show it to them just to prove it was "bad." He didn't have to run the ad -- these media stooges ran out and did it for him free, and he got to innocently claim that he didn't want it run. Please.

I admire his stands on abortion, on the marriage amendment and opposition to homosexual unions or marriage, and on his support for faith in the public square. But he is NOT a Conservative in the Reagan tradition, and I cannot support Mike Huckabee in the primary.

Then there's Ron Paul. He's a consistent libertarian -- in fact, he was the Libertarian Party candidate for President (against Ronald Reagan!) in 1988. I actually really like most of his economic policy positions, and surprisingly he is generally pro-life. He is also completely clueless regarding the conflict in which we are engaged globally. He blamed the United States and our foreign policy for 9/11, believes we should withdraw our troops immediately from all foreigh bases and fields of battle, and basically return to the isolationism of the 19th century. On that issue he is as bad or worse than several of the democrats! And on that basis alone, Ron Paul will not get my vote.

That leaves two candidates: Fred Thompson and Duncan Hunter. Fred Thompson entered the race late -- which isn't so bad to me, since the race shouldn't have started so early in 2007 anyway. I am troubled by Fred only on a couple of issues. He was my Senator in Tennessee from 1998-2002, and yet he voted AGAINST impeachment and conviction of Bill Clinton of perjury -- the strongest and most obvious charge he faced. Clinton should have been removed from office -- and I wrote Thompson after his vote and told him he needed to return to acting, because I'd never vote for him for Senator again. Well, he took my advice and didn't run for re-election in 2002 (right...). He also hasn't demonstrated a deep and abiding drive to be the President. Some say he's "lazy," he says he doesn't LIKE campaigning. I'm of a mind to be understanding to Fred -- I'd hate campaigning too. He says he wants to be President but not to campaign -- I can forgive him that. Fred is not out of the question as a candidate I could support.

The most consistent Conservative in the race for President has been a Congressman from California for nearly 20 years. He has consistently voted and acted in the mold of Ronald Reagan -- he is economically Conservative, totally supportive of the military and our war effort, socially he is a Conservative, opposing abortion and homosexual marriage, as well as advocating the role of faith in civic life and discourse -- a prerequisite for my vote -- and his record and rhetoric match! Plus, he strongly opposes illegal immigration, and has been the ONLY Congressman to actually get a border fence constructed in his district along the border with Mexico. He may suffer from too much optimism about accomplishing anything in Washington, and he suffers in many areas from a lack of name recognition. He is also not one of the most exciting and pumped up speakers -- but, to turn a phrase -- his words are stone. He is principled. He believes. That's why, in the South Carolina Primary, I'll be casting my vote for Duncan Hunter.

I am under no illusions. It is unlikely Hunter will be the nominee -- but I am compelled to vote on principle in the primary. And Hunter is the most principled, the man I most identify with. If he does drop out of the race before South Carolina -- after all, Iowa and New Hampshire come first -- and maybe another state[?] -- then I will cast my vote for Fred Thompson. But that hasn't happened yet. And if it does, I'll have to re-evaluate the other candidates to decide whom I can vote for. But, frankly, I'm tired of voting for the lesser of two evils. We'll see...

But for now, Go Duncan Hunter, 2008!


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