I don't like any of the options this year a whole lot, but Bush will do substantially less harm than Gore. The things people are afraid of about Bush are mitigated by other factors; the things people like about Gore are based on his history of exaggerations, and don't reflect reality. If it weren't close, I'd endorse Browne, the Libertarian candidate; he's probably a better man than Bush. But Gore is enough worse than Bush, in significant ways, for me to vote for my third or fourth choice.
Gore is a big-hearted kind of guy. He really does care. Unfortunately, he's the kind of guy who is blinded by his concerns, and his ability to think things through is reliably overwhelmed by the strength of his concern about issues that are important to him. Furthermore, he always thinks a governmental solution is the best one. If there's a problem, he believes the best way to solve it is to find a solution, then implement it by fiat at a federal level.
He could be more wrong, but it's hard to imagine how.
Gore's "solutions" deprive us of two fundamental things. First, they deprive us of the choice over how we want to try to solve our problems. Second, they deprive us of the benefit of a free market economy. Our country has shown that free markets are very good at solving any problem the market wants to solve. Making a problem interesting to the market works; trying to solve it by fiat doesn't.
It's that simple. He makes shit up. He tells good stories - which just aren't true. Time and time again, he makes up people, he makes up situations, he tries to tell the story of an Al Gore who would be a good president. It's a false story. He takes credit where none is due - and even when some credit may be due, he takes a lot more than he's earned.
No, not for cash. For prime time television. Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson told this story to the Rocky Mountain News, in Denver. You can find it in their archives. I also found it on-line, here.
The number one reason I've seen people give to vote for Gore is his environmental record. It's a bad reason. His environmental record is awful. He cares, deeply, about the environment. He's wrong about it. I don't mean he's wrong to care; I mean that his caring doesn't do anyone (least of all the environment) any good. His great accomplishment in "protecting" the environment is Superfund. It's a disaster. The EPA is allowed to simply ignore the "due process" requirements the government normally faces when penalizing people. Decisions about who pays, and how much, are made politically. And, despite sweeping powers, and billions of dollars of funding, it doesn't work. Not much cleaning up really gets done.
Gore is fascinated by the environment. He doesn't understand it, and his instincts are to listen to other people who are as zealous as possible, without any regard for how rational or well-considered their opinions are. The end result is that, if given free reign to make environmental policies, he will enact policies which are disastrous, but which give people mild warm fuzzy feelings as long as you don't look too closely. This is not what we need.
Because, as mentioned above, he thinks the government can solve all the problems. He honestly believes that it is because of government funding and programs that the economy has boomed for most of the last decade. It's not. Technology has shifted things. Gore's "internet funding" didn't change anything; the need for a network was already becoming obvious, and without his funding, we would have developed something... and we wouldn't have needed to wait for government to "release" the network for commercial use, because it would have started out as a commercial network. If anything, we'd be ahead.
Gore will intervene, as much as he can, in the economy. He will try to shore up "weak" places in the economy, without thinking about why they may be weak. He will try to tax people and companies that make "too much" money. When he creates tax cuts, he will try to target them at people who are following the rules he has in mind. He will try to make sure the entire economy follows a set of rules he can understand. It will do a lot of damage, and no good.
Gore believes that the current administration is responsible for an economic boom that started before they got into office, and has been driven by other peoples' hard work.
Gore has a lot of opinions I am basically supportive of. He wants to leave abortion alone. He wants to treat gay people just like other people.
Unfortunately, even when I agree with his goals, I don't agree with his methods. Gore would appoint Supreme Court justices based on whether they agreed with him. That's wrong. Gore wants to do everything by legislation, and he can't imagine the possibility of a use of power that is possible but not ethical.
He also has social opinions I can't approve of. Gore, like many Democrats, believes that you can legislate equality. That you can hire people using quotas and somehow magically make everything fair for everyone. You can't, and trying to fix social problems this way just makes problems worse. Discrimination by race, gender, or any other such thing is wrong. It will remain wrong no matter what the reasons you give are. It is also, unsurprisingly, economically inefficient; if you hire based on race, you will spend more for less work than if you don't. It doesn't matter whether you're trying to get a "representative" work force, or keep people out; you will lose.
Gore has liberal beliefs about social issues, but he wants to mandate those beliefs. This is wrong.
Gore pushed really hard to release some of the strategic oil reserve. The explanation given was that you should have the right to get in your car and drive somewhere at a reasonable price. This is a strange combination of shortsightedness, abandoning any pretense of caring about the environment, and just plain missing the point. Unfortunately, it seems typical.
Bush isn't my first choice. I'll admit it. If I wasn't worried about Gore winning, I'd probably vote for someone I really like. But Bush is okay.
Bush has "dangerous" opinions on a number of issues. I believe that, in every case, they are mitigated by social circumstances. The damage he will do is limited; the things he gets right are important.
Bush does not like abortions. However, it appears that he is not going to be as aggressive about this as people might fear. The fact is, the support for outright bans is not there in our society. He seems to recognize this, and has said he would rather try to promote pro-life beliefs culturally than try to pass legislation that won't receive support. While I'm not a big fan of pro-life beliefs, I have no problem with anyone, even the President, trying to promote them through ways other than passing laws or blowing up clinics.
He's better than Gore. He's not much better, but he's better. By my count, he's only spent the budget surplus we don't necessarily have one or two times, not four. And, luckily for us, he can't spend the money himself; he has to get Congress to back him. So, he won't do much damage.
Meanwhile, I think he will do some good. Bush recognizes that the economy is booming because people are working, and that the best thing he can do is get out of their way. I don't think this is a great time for broad tax cuts, but I'd rather see tax cuts (with the prediction that they will keep the economy, and thus our tax base, booming) than more-increased spending.
It's not great, but it's not awful.
A lot of people don't like military spending. I'm not bothered by it. I don't necessarily like the amount of intervention we've been doing recently, but if we're going to do it, we should be willing to spend the money to keep the edge that has kept our recent wars so one-sided.
And, of course, there's the missile defense system. Everyone has missed the point of this. It's not supposed to stop a large number of missiles, not anytime soon.
But if it stops one, it was worth any number of billions of dollars, because Los Angeles is gonna be really expensive to replace.
Meanwhile, we get the technology dividend from developing new technology - and that's been a good bet with any kind of new, "impossible", high technology for a long time.
I have concerns about Bush on social issues - but I believe they are adequately limited by the fact that our Constitutional rights protect us from the worst excesses.
Bush, unlike Gore, believes in a right to encryption privacy that isn't limited by "the needs of law enforcement". Gore wants back doors in your encryption in case the government might want to snoop; Bush recognizes that this just won't work.
Bush's environmental record looks bad, but Texas was never a leader in environmental issues, and everyone has been paying a lot more attention recently. Bush is not an idiot; he will not ignore the environment. He will listen to people who care, and he will also make sure that their opinions are backed by real research. He may not enact sweeping changes, but he is unlikely to fund gigantic boondoggles.
Texas does, indeed, lead the country in some kinds of pollution. Pollution per what? It's also one of the largest states, by population or by area, and it hosts most of our country's petrochemical industry - and did long before Bush got there. Indeed, one of Bush's accomplishments has been to spur development outside the oil industry. It is not clear that Texas is all that bad in pollution per capita - which is a much more important measure, because it doesn't discriminate against larger states.
Texas leads the nation (it's not number one, but it's far up the list) in reduction in pollution, since Bush got into office, which is perhaps a much more useful data point.
You don't have to agree, but if you read this far, thanks. If you're in the US, please vote. I recommend Bush; I think I've laid out the arguments tolerably well. If you don't agree, vote anyway.
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