Tuesday's election provides one of the starkest political choices since, uh, the last one. A new generation of young voters, whose only exposure to war has been their less-than-ideal history books, will join older and, it is to be hoped, wiser adults in deciding how to prosecute a modern war that is unlikely to be "won" in the traditional sense, or go away in the historical sense.
The war against an ideology that is not of this world, but which has earthly applications, trumps all other issues. Precisely because the terrorists struck us first, President Bush has invoked a doctrine of preemption that is in this country's best interest.
Senator Kerry would wait until an attack is "imminent" before acting to repel it. The problem with this strategy is that waiting until an attack is imminent probably would be too late to stop it. Would the terrorists have to be aboard the airplanes or in the subways with their weapons of mass destruction before he acted? Dangerous delays could ensue while Kerry consults vacillating "allies" and the United Nations.
Kerry has no credibility when he promises to build alliances. He has claimed to have spoken with "European leaders" who want him to win the election, but he has failed to name a single one and none have come forward. He has said he consulted with U.N. diplomats before voting first for, then against the war. According to The Washington Times, at least some of those diplomats with whom he claims to have met say they never met with him. War is too serious to be left to someone who regards it as just another political issue to be massaged in order to gain power.
On the social issues, Kerry opposes the death penalty for people convicted of capital crimes but favors the death penalty for the innocent unborn who have committed no crimes. He says he respects the teachings of his Catholic faith on this matter but disagrees with them. How can one respect a position with which he is in contention? It also places the state above God in the most fundamental right one can ever have: the right to be born.
One searches in vain for any issue in which Kerry's Catholicism trumps the catechism of the Democratic Party. His recent quotation of Scripture is out of context in that its instructions to help the poor, for example, are primarily directed toward individuals, not government. Such help is for the purpose of redemption of the whole person, not simply the satisfaction of the physical body.
Kerry's economic positions are familiar Democrat doctrine: take more money from the productive and give it to the less productive. Success is to be penalized and its opposite subsidized.
President Bush supports school choice. John Kerry follows the doctrines of the teachers unions, which want to maintain their monopoly on the minds and spirits of children. Competition works in virtually every area of life, but Senator Kerry opposes competition in education, no matter how many poor and minority children the system fails.
Everyone agrees that Social Security cannot go on like this. With baby boomers about to retire, only an increase in taxes to pay for additional benefits, a boost in the retirement age or a reduction in benefits, or all three, will keep it solvent under its current construct. President Bush would allow younger workers to invest a small portion of their Social Security taxes in private, interest-bearing accounts so they have real money in their accounts when they retire. It's all about who can best decide your future - government or you.
The next four years will present more formidable challenges than the last four. President Bush has demonstrated his resolve to stand against those who would destroy us and damage our way of life. John Kerry's positions on how he would fight terrorism lack conviction and credibility. Electing him would send the wrong message to terrorists and persuade many that the United States is weak.
All wartime presidents make mistakes and President Bush has made some, but on the issue of understanding evil and doing what must be done to resist and repel it, this president sees things more clearly than his opponent. It is why George W. Bush should be given four more years as president of the United States.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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