I am not happy with the Republican Party, but on Nov. 7 I will cast my vote for my incumbent Republican congressman and senator nonetheless. I don't feel I have any choice -- and it's not just that the Democrats running in my state are particularly unappealing candidates.
I'm angry at Republicans for abandoning their principles. This Republican president, aided and abetted by Congress, has increased federal spending at a reckless rate, even when the costs of the war in Iraq are taken out of the equation. I'm embarrassed by the scandals that have plagued some Republicans and by the abject failure of the leadership to do anything meaningful on lobbying reform.
I'm sickened by the cronyism that protected former Congressman Mark Foley and put children at risk. I'm disappointed that after years of claiming to be the party of colorblind equal opportunity, Republicans have actually expanded racial preferences in federal programs. I'm disheartened by the demagoguery on immigration and the refusal to do the one thing guaranteed to stop illegal immigration, namely, enact a broad guest worker program.
But none of these issues will make me stay home, much less vote Democratic. The fact is I don't trust the Democratic Party to lead this country in a time of uncertainty and war. While the Democrats say they want to refocus the nation's energy on the war on terror, they've demonstrated time and again that they oppose the most effective means of fighting terrorism.
Democrats would interfere with the National Security Agency's ability to intercept communications between terrorists abroad and their agents in the United States. They would extend to terrorists being held overseas access to the U.S. civilian court system, which could jeopardize national security by making classified intelligence available to the terrorists and their attorneys. They would treat terrorists like common criminals rather than as combatants who are at war with us.
Nor do I trust that Democrats would do the right thing in Iraq -- not that the current administration has had a stellar record there, either. I'm tired of debating whether we should or should not have gone into Iraq -- both Republicans and half the Democrats in the Senate voted to authorize the war in 2003. The question is what the United States should do now. It's clear the war is going very badly and that Iraq is on the verge of a civil war. Democrats have offered no clear plan except to leave Iraq as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences.
And I don't think the Democrats would back tough measures if Iran and North Korea continue to pursue nuclear weapons either. Certainly the Clinton administration's record with respect to North Korea doesn't inspire confidence. Democrats like carrots a lot better than sticks and are more concerned with "world opinion" than American interests.
Democratic control of Congress also worries me when it comes to the economy. Democrats always want to raise taxes in order to pay for social programs, transferring money out of the hands of ordinary people and turning it over to bureaucrats. Most Democrats are also infatuated with government regulation and rarely find a government directive they don't like. Higher taxes and more regulations are a recipe to cool our healthy economy. Democrats seem to want to punish businesses rather than encourage the creation of more wealth. And they have a nasty propensity to encourage envy and class warfare, which benefits no one.
Politics is sometimes about making the least bad choice. I know some of my fellow Republicans will stay home on Election Day, hoping to send the party a message that they're fed up with the current leadership. But putting the Democrats in control won't bring about needed changes -- it will make matters even worse. The place for revolt is within the party itself, by urging the elected representatives to pick carefully when they choose House and Senate leadership in January and by challenging incumbents in primaries next time if they don't stand up for basic Republican principles.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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