Young, Black, Urban, Single, and…Voting for Bush
by Kim James
"You'd vote for Bush? You can't be serious?! I hate President Bush and everything he stands for." That's usually the response I get whenever I intimate I'm inclined to vote for Bush in November. Unfortunately, my choice produces exasperation among my friends – groans, sighs, and dismissive claims that I'm "out of touch." Why? Can't someone who's young, black, urban, and single like President Bush?
When I ask, "What's wrong with Bush?" I get a litany of answers that goes something like this:
(a) Bush got us involved in a war we had no business being in. There were no weapons of mass destruction. He lied. Now we're spending billions of dollars to stay where we are not wanted, just so Bush can maintain his oil connections.
(b) His foreign policy stinks. By snubbing his nose at the world community, Bush forced the United States to go it alone. His support of Israel sends mixed signals to the Arab world – pro-occupation in one part of the Middle East and pro-democratic policies in the other. Bush isn't fighting terrorism; he's causing terrorism by encouraging poor and disadvantaged Arabs to take their anger out on us.
(c) Bush doesn't care about the middle class; he cares about the rich. He's totally pro-business. His tax policy was designed for the wealthy. His tax cuts have caused the federal deficit to spiral out of control, leaving the U.S. economy in danger of crashing.
(d) Bush doesn't care about the American people. If he did, he'd do something about providing healthcare for all Americans or guaranteeing social security. Instead, he supports social programs that interject government where it doesn't belong, like eroding our civil liberties through the Patriot Act.
After such long-winded exchanges, family and friends usually stop to take a breath and regain their composure. Then they finish with their ultimate trump card – "and he didn't win the popular vote either." To them, this proves why George W. shouldn't be president today – and especially why he shouldn't be president again.
I've heard it said that this year's presidential election will be decided on values. I disagree. I think it will be decided on perception. And like it or not, our perception of Bush, his Cabinet, and John Kerry is drawn largely from how they are portrayed in the media. What factors, then, should we use to shape our perceptions of Bush and Kerry? I'd like to suggest three criteria.
First, morality. As a Christian, I subscribe to a biblical worldview. I believe in the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of life, not just how I worship on Sunday mornings. As such, adherence to biblical principles transcends both politics and political parties. To me, Republicans aren't any more about "family values" than most Democrats. I recommend we pledge our allegiance not to a party but to a person. We should ask ourselves: Does this candidate recognize a divinely inspired moral order? Or does he advance public policies that tout individual rights and personal liberty as the ultimate authority by which we should live? For me, a candidate must acknowledge and demonstrate that he believes in a God-created universe and supports moral order as the basis of law. I believe President Bush has demonstrated this more than the other candidates.
Second, leadership. Does the candidate base his decisions and policies on merely pragmatic factors or does he hold to some larger view of self, nation, and world? Is he willing to be unpopular in adhering to his beliefs?
Regarding the Iraq war, everyone thought Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. If this wasn't so, why didn't Hans Blick say so? Regarding the Middle East and Africa, Europe would rather get rich off their misery than get embroiled in their problems. I admire President Bush for standing up to Hussein as well as to France and Germany. Yes, the post-war has been handled badly. Yes, we'll be in it for a long time, but I support the administration's view that terrorism is the symptom, while the challenge of modernity is the problem. Given our wealth and superpower status, it seems fitting that the United States lead the rest of the world in dealing with the question of modernity in a shrinking global village where there's fierce competition for resources. How has President Bush done this? – by focusing on HIV/AIDS funding and research for South African nations and by forcing the question of democratization for unstable countries in the Middle East. True, one can't force democracy, but I don?t think a ?leave and let alone? policy will work globally long-term either.
Third, fiscal policy. This is where I have the biggest problem with Bush. But fiscal policies are only proposed or vetoed by the president; they are passed by Congress. So I'm voting for Bush and voting out those Democrats and Republicans who spend as if there's no tomorrow. Our system of checks and balances only works if it works the system – instead of cutting personal deals of self-interest.
Evangelicals talk a good game about "servant leaders," but all politicians consider themselves servants of the people – that's why they are called public servants. The question then becomes: What people are they serving? As an African-American city-dweller, I have yet to see the Democrats do anything meaningful for me. Consequently, I'm concentrating on the criteria of morality, leadership, and sound fiscal policy to shape my opinion for this election. That's why I'm voting to reelect President Bush.
Kim James is president of a nonprofit organization that promotes family values, life, and cross-cultural partnerships. This essay originally appeared in the Sept/Oct 2004 issue of PRISM Magazine.