George Bush's biggest problem is not Al Gore, but voter complacency stemming from our prosperity. Bush must remind voters why this election is vitally important.
I am not knocking prosperity. In fact, one of the best ways Bush can distinguish himself from Gore is to show how his domestic agenda will preserve economic growth. Because Gore misunderstands the source of our prosperity, he will squander it as surely as a teenager would throw away an inherited fortune.
Gore fails to grasp the wisdom of the proverb, "Prosperity is something the businessman created for politicians to take credit for." Ronald Reagan understood it, which is why he invested every fiber of his being (not otherwise committed to defeating the Soviet Union) to reducing the government's smothering effect on America's entrepreneurial spirit. Bush understands it, too, but he isn't emphasizing it enough.
Gore apparently believes that the government creates wealth, so he sees no risk in expanding the federal government even further. By devising novel uses for the projected budget surpluses instead of accepting them as evidence of over-taxation, he has unmasked his vision for America. Unhappily, that vision is incompatible with the American dream, which champions individual liberty over cradle-to-grave security.
This election represents a crossroads for America because Gore is seeking a mandate for collectivism over individualism, victimhood over responsibility, mediocrity over excellence, statism over capitalism and liberalism over conservatism.
Bush needs to focus Gore's liberalism in his campaign sights and begin firing from now until Election Day. If Bush doesn't highlight the fundamental contrasts between himself and his opponent, no one else will either.
While I do not share the pessimism of some of my conservative colleagues about Bush's prospects, I think he would enhance his likelihood of victory by throwing caution to the wind. He should reject the conventional wisdom that politicians can't walk and chew gum at the same time -- that he must choose between policy issues and character issues. He must use every arrow in his quiver. He has an overwhelming advantage in both categories, and it would be foolish to sacrifice either avenue of attack.
The public is still more conservative than it is liberal. If it's moderation the swing voters want, Bush is much less extreme a conservative than Gore is a liberal. Do you think that a majority of Americans enthusiastically endorse partial-birth abortion like Gore? Do you think they want gay Scout leaders forced upon their children? Do they want their children trapped in failed public schools? Do they want socialized health care? Do they want to penalize achievement? Do they want to segregate the races? Do they want to dilute the distinct American culture? Do they want an America powerless to protect itself against foreign aggression and defenseless against nuclear missile attack?
During the debates, George Bush might ask Al Gore these questions:
Just what part of the American dream do you believe in?
When you say that you represent the people, not the powerful, are you saying it is wrong for people to strive to get ahead? Should they be punished if they do?
Do you want to use the tax code to eliminate rewards and risks from our society? To chop off the invisible hand of the market?
Do you believe it is healthy for our leaders to be pitting people against people on the basis of envy and greed?
Do you realize that the business interests you demonize are largely responsible for the creation of the wealth you seem so intent on redistributing -- and ultimately destroying?
What part of Martin Luther King's dream do you believe in?
Do you believe people should be judged on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? Does that include your Secret Service detail, by the way?
Do you believe that "powerful" politicians such as yourself and Bill Clinton should be accountable for their misconduct, or should they be excused on the basis of phony campaign promises?
Are you committed to American sovereignty, or is it less important to you than your devotion to environmental causes?
Liberalism, when exposed, can still be defeated, so Bush shouldn't be afraid to make it the issue.