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Why I Wont Vote for “W” a Second Time

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Why I Wont Vote for “W” a Second Time Powered By Docstoc
					    Why I Won’t Vote for “Dubya” a Second Time
         I have been a registered Independent voter for over 30 years. I carefully
research the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate in an election and
decide upon who I will cast my vote without regard to that candidate’s political
affiliation. I have voted as many times for the Republican candidate for president
as I have the Democratic candidate.
         In the last national election I voted for George W. Bush because he was a
plain-speaking politician who pledged to restore integrity to the White House and
unite the country. In terms of the domestic side of his platform, I liked his
concept of “compassionate conservatism”, and with regard to foreign policy, his
caution of restraint (warning against an overactive foreign policy). In addition, I
respected his profession of religious faith. Simply put, he has turned out to be
exactly the opposite of the sort of president I thought he would be. I will focus my
comments on the most important aspects of foreign and domestic policies: the
war in Iraq and the economy.
     The United States went to war with Iraq because President Bush and his
administration convinced Congress and the American people that Saddam
Hussein was an urgent threat that required military action. The case made for
war was based upon the following claims: First, that Saddam possessed banned
WMDs, was on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons, and was an immediate
threat to the security of the United States. And second, that Iraq had close ties to
the al-Qaida terrorists responsible for the attacks of 9/11.
     On January 22, 2003, President Bush told an audience in St. Louis, “The
dictator of Iraq has got weapons of mass destruction.” On the eve of war in
March, he said, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no
doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most
lethal weapons ever devised.” In terms of whether the threat from Iraq was
imminent, on October 2, 2002, he said the issue “…is a threat of unique
urgency.” And 5 days later he said, “Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot
wait for the final proof – the smoking gun – that would come in the form of a
mushroom cloud.”
     The Bush administration repeatedly asserted that high-level contacts and
long-standing relationships existed between the Iraqi government and al-Qaida.
The President said in a speech made on September 15, 2002, “You can’t
distinguish between al-Qaida and Saddam when you talk about the war on
terror.”
     All of the reasons the Bush administration gave for justifying a pre-emptive
invasion of Iraq have since proven to be false. No weapons of mass destruction
were found, in fact, Iraq turned out to be an ill-equiped and impoverished country
which was not capable of mounting a credible threat against its immediate
neighbors, much less the United States. We now know that Iraq’s nuclear
program had been dismantled by the mid-1990s and there was no evidence of its
reconstitution. The truth is that the UN inspection process had worked.




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     There has been no conclusive evidence to support administration claims that
Saddam was cooperating with al-Qaida or would have transferred chemical,
biological, or nuclear weapons to the terrorist group. Even President Bush, in
September of last year finally said there was no link between Saddam Hussein
and the attacks of 9/11.
     Every original justification that the Bush administration raised for going to war
with Iraq has failed to prove true, and when the administration realized this,
rather than admit their mistakes, changed the rationale for the war. The
president said that even if he’d known then what he knows today, he would still
have invaded Iraq. The focus of the war switched from the “war on terrorism” to
the “liberation of the Iraqi people.” The president said, “Freedom is the
Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in the world. And as the greatest power
on Earth, we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom. That is what we
have been called to do, as far as I’m concerned.” He has stated repeatedly that,
“Saddam was a bad man”, and that he was a threat to his own people. So
apparently the moral justification for the pre-emptive, unilateral war that we
launched last year has evolved from defending ourselves to defending the Iraqi
people from their own leader, and changing the world in accordance with a
devine calling.
     If we went to war because Saddam was a “bad man” and a danger to his own
people, then it means that our president felt so sorry for the Iraqi’s that he would
endanger the lives of our sons and daughters to change their regime for them.
And what a thankless job that has proven to be. I submit that not one American
life is worth the so-called liberation of Iraq.
     In terms of what the invasion and occupation of Iraq has accomplished in the
war on terrorism, it can be argued that the Iraq war may ultimately make the
defeat of terrorism more difficult because of the way that we have alienated key
allies and weakened the UN, the logistical and resource drain on the bin Laden
campaign in Afghanistan, and the deeper resentment it has triggered in Muslim
countries. The war in Iraq has proven to be a great distraction and diversion
form the true fight against terrorism. Already, one third of Afghanistan is again
under Taliban control. Osama bin Ladin has yet to be found, and the networks of
terror have regrouped and are more dispersed throughout the world. In fact,
terrorists from other countries are now in Iraq worsening an already violent
situation. Al Qaeda carried out a massive terrorist attack in Madrid, and the
majority of American’s believe that the war in Iraq has increased the long-term
risk of terrorism in this country.
     The Arab world views us not as liberators but occupiers of Iraq for strategic
and economic benefits, rather than the administration’s current line that the goal
of the occupation is simply to turn Iraq into a good place to live. They see us
building the largest embassy in the world in Baghdad, and they see Halliburton
and Bechtel running everything at enormous profit. They aren’t naive.
     Richard A. Clark, former counter terrorism coordinator for the White House
said, “Nothing America could have done would have provided al-Qaida and its
new generation of cloned groups a better recruitment device than our
unprovoked invasion of an oil-rich Arab country.”



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      The only positive outcome of the war thus far is the removal of Saddam
Hussein from power. But that may have been accomplished, over time, in much
better ways than a pre-emptive and largely unilateral war that has proven to be
unnecessary, unjust, and very costly. So far, more than 1,000 brave, young
American’s have been killed and nearly 15,000 wounded in action, many maimed
for life. Military families have been separated, many for more than a year,
resulting in financial hardships and stress on relationships. We are spending 5
billion dollars a month in Iraq, and the Congressional Budget Office estimates the
cost to occupy Iraq through 2013 at up to 200 billion dollars, not including the
cost to rebuild the country. Iraq remains unstable and violent. The most well-
trained and sophisticated fighting force in the world is once again involved in a
maddening war against insurgents in which the enemy has many faces. There is
no clear or responsible exit strategy in place, and Americans will be dying there
for a very long time.
      It is become evident that President Bush was obsessed from the beginning of
his presidency with making war on Iraq. The Afghan war was a rational reaction
to 9/11, but the invasion of Iraq clearly was not. While I don’t believe that he
deliberately lied regarding the presence of WMDs in Iraq, I do believe the
evidence was stretched, and the show of diplomacy in the days prior to the
invasion was a sham intended to cover the administration’s determination to go
to war, no matter what.
      The Bush doctrine of the United States being entitled and obligated to
promote democracy, by force if necessary is unrealistic and unwise. Democracy
cannot be imposed by one country on another. Especially when the country
attempting to impose democracy is reviled by the other and all the other
countries in the region. Besides, all of our energies, money, and military force
cannot substitute for a people’s assumption of responsibility for their own social
and political well being.
      Leading the country into a pre-emptive, unneccessary, and unjust war
demonstrates a degree of recklessness and malfeasance far exceeding in gravity
Nixon’s Watergate scandal, or, as bad as it was, Bill Clinton’s prevarications
about sex.
      At the start of the Bush administration we were enjoying virtually full
employment and our first budget surplus in a generation. To what extent is the
president responsible for the poor economy and loss of jobs since he took office?
I really don’t know. I believe that whoever sits in the White House receives too
much credit when the economy is good and too much blame when the economy
is bad. I do know that the president is responsible, along with the Republican
Congress, for three consecutive years of tax cuts which have produced more
than half of the staggering $477 billion annual budget deficit we now face.
      The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that the expected
annual deficits over the next 10 years will come to $2.4 trillion. That is almost $1
trillion more than the same group was forecasting just 5 months ago. And that
doesn’t include additional money for the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq,
underfunded mandates for education, prescription drug benefits, and oh, let’s not
forget the promised trip to Mars. Within a decade we could owe a $10 trillion



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national debt costing more than $500 billion per year in interest. That is money
that will not be available for Social Security, Medicare, and education. As a point
of reference, as President Bush took office in January of 2001, the budget office
projected surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion for the decade ending in 2011. The
apparent aim of this administration is to reduce taxes on wealth (dividends,
capital gains, inheritance) and disregard resulting deficits. A policy that pretty
much tramples most conservative and Republican principles.
    Each of the three federal tax cuts since 2001 has directly and indirectly
chipped away at state revenue. As the same time, the federal government has
shifted responsibilities and costs to states for such expensive programs as
education testing, security, health care, and social welfare. As a result, almost
every state has been plunged into its worst budget crisis since World War II.
Local governments have laid off teachers, firefighters, police officers, social
workers, closed libraries and health clinics, cut childcare, mental health services,
public transit, raised public college tuition, and 34 states have cut spending on
Medicaid.
    The economic policy of this administration can be characterized as anything
but compassionate or conservative.
    I am very concerned about this president’s over-heated sense of
righteousness and good v. evil. Time and again he has proudly described
himself as a man who sees the world in black and white. To the point that his
moral certainty and inability to admit mistakes almost seems delusional – up is
down, war is peace, deficits are good for the economy as is the loss of jobs to
overseas. George W. Bush appears to be a man who will not allow himself to be
unduly influenced by facts, or seek the advice of those who might disagree with
him or paint a more complex picture than the one he wanted painted for him.
Rather, he makes decisions in consultation with a limited number of aids who
share his simplified messianic vision of the world. If Bill Clinton demonstrated
moral depravity (and he did); George W. Bush demonstrates moral arrogance.
    At the beginning of my letter, I stated that I am a registered Independent.
According to recent studies, that makes me one of a shrinking number of voters
(as few as 8% of the electorate) who are not firmly set in their allegiance to one
of the two major political parties. The overwhelming majority of voters who think
of themselves as Republicans, conservative, or Christian will vote for George W.
Bush this fall. And chances are, little can happen between now and the election
to change their mind. I find this blind allegiance disappointing, and perhaps even
undemocratic. I am especially disheartened by the percentage of evangelical or
fundamentalist Christians who support President Bush simply because of his
expression of faith. While I don’t doubt that George W. Bush’s faith is sincere
and deeply held, I find it difficult to reconcile the extremist political ideology of this
administration with the values of bibical Christianity.
    In terms of foreign policy, George W. Bush is convinced that we are engaged
in a moral battle between good and evil, and those who are not with us are on
the wrong side in that divine confrontation. Certainly the face of evil can be seen
in the terrorist attacks of 9/11. All that you have to do is tune in to the evening
news to see that evil exists in the world today. But to speak of “they” being evil



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and “we” being good, to say that evil is all out there and that in the warfare
between good and evil others are either with us or against us is simply bad
theology. Besides, in Christian theology, it is not nations that rid the world of evil
– the confrontation with evil is a role reserved for God.
    Further, President Bush’s statement that he would have gone to war with Iraq
even if he had known the nation did not have WMDs, represents a significant
departure from the traditional Christian stance toward a “just war.” That is, that
we wage war only as a last resort or as an act of self-defense. The thought that
war is justified because of our calling to spread freedom is nothing short of
shocking.
    In terms of domestic issues, a tax policy that primarily benefits the wealthy
and a federal budget that primarily benefits the military - while poverty, hunger,
and homelessness continue to rise – directly contradicts biblical faith. In
addition, the record deficits in the years ahead will guarantee even more radical
cuts for poor families, the elderly, and others in our society who are in need. The
President may study his Bible, but somehow he and the evangelicals who
support him have missed the central message of the gospels - mercy, love,
peace, and reconciliation.
    In November we face one of the most important elections in our history. The
latest polls show the approval rating of the President to be as low as it has been
since he took office. Yet the race between the President and John Kerry is very
tight. This is a reflection of two factors: the entrenched allegiance to the
President by certain blocks of voters, and the fact that at least to this point, John
Kerry has failed to attract a significant number of so-called “swing voters” such as
myself. I don’t consider myself to be a supporter of John Kerry, as much as a
voter who couldn’t be more disappointed with the performance of our incumbent
President and feels a change – any change – is desperately needed.




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