Thomas Sowell

  During the 2000 elections, Pat Buchanan siphoned off some conservative votes from Governor Bush and Ralph Nader siphoned off some liberal votes from Vice President Al Gore. This time Pat Buchanan has endorsed President Bush but Ralph Nader is still there for liberal voters who are unhappy with the Kerry-Edwards ticket.
That doesn't mean that the President has nothing to worry about as regards conservative voters. "None of the above" may not be on the ballot but sometimes it still gets more votes than any of the candidates who are listed. That is, people stay home.

 Conservatives have had some policies to be unhappy about during the Bush administration -- loose immigration policies and runaway spending on domestic programs perhaps leading the list of complaints.

 Sadly, with the electorate as closely divided as it is, no administration of either party is going to enforce control of our borders. That is the brutal fact. Most of the public may want the borders better controlled and some teeth put into our immigration laws. But neither party dares risk alienating the Hispanic vote -- especially now that there are more Hispanics than blacks and the Hispanic population is growing faster.

 The closely divided electorate also makes it difficult to say "No" to all sorts of other constituencies, including midwest farmers in battleground states. It has been a bidding war and neither party is willing to be outbid.

 Another area in which the close division of the country -- and of the Senate -- has had a negative impact is with judicial nominees. With courts playing an ever bigger role in determining our policies, or even our Presidents, the choice of who sits on the Supreme Court for life can matter more in the long run than who sits in the White House for four years.

 President Bush has nominated some good people to the federal courts but the Senate Republicans have let the Democrats stymie their confirmation. With a number of Supreme Court vacancies expected soon, it matters enormously who is the President who will nominate new Justices and who is in the Senate to confirm them.

 With virtually all the major issues where conservatives may feel disappointed with the Bush administration, the closeness of the electorate and the consequently thin Republican margin in Congress is at the root of the problem. If conservatives stay home on election day, things will not get any better and could get a lot worse, especially if John Kerry becomes President as a result.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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