America needs a fresh start this year

I have been confronted by many people around campus asking if it is true that I am not voting for George W. Bush. It can be frustrating to have friends give you this look like they’ve discovered you have a disease.

I want to clarify things so that no one can be in the dark on where I stand; I want to be up front. I, Joseph Paul Beaudreau, a life long Republican, do not believe that George W. Bush should be re-elected. I believe his opponent will be a better president and will put this nation back on track. This is why I am voting for John Kerry.

For some reason that I simply cannot understand, there is a phrase that republicans have been inappropriately using to describe Bush: "strong leader." I do not believe that Bush has demonstrated strong leadership in any way. Throughout Bush’s life, everything he touched failed. When he ran an oil company in Texas, he led it into bankruptcy. When he owned the Rangers, they sucked and traded Sammy Sosa to the White Sox for Herald Baines. When he ran for Congress, he lost.

As president, his leadership has not been any better. When Bush became president, he was given a surplus that America had never known. Instead of saving it, he gave a tax cut to the rich while the state of Social Security was threatened. Then, after our nation engaged in a costly war and our budget became tighter, he went ahead to push for Congress making his tax cuts permanent. Through his leadership, we have created a deficit so large it goes in the record books. Not to mention that, under Bush, our nation has lost more jobs than under any president since Hoover. It is not wise to go after fiscal ideology when our country is at war. Unfortunately, Bush thinks it is, and he is the first, and hopefully the last, president to act on this belief.

Other displays of Bush’s poor leadership are oil and environmental issues. One of the first things Bush did in the first few months of his presidency was tell the world we wouldn’t participate with the Kyoto Treaty, which was a 10-year effort for international environmental laws. Yes, there were a few flaws, but wouldn’t a strong leader move to fix them? Instead, our president pulled us out of the talks altogether, insulting the world who had worked for years on a proposal that America started. Since then, his administration has shown little concern for the state of the American environment when it gets in the way of easy profits.

Then there is oil, which is not only an environmental and economic issue; it is also a terrorism issue. Our oil money goes to support nations where human rights are being violated and terrorist cells flourish, like Saudi Arabia. It also makes us dependent on other nations for our economic stability. A good president with real leadership that went beyond cowboy words would have moved to get our nation off of our security-threat level dependency on oil. Instead our president gives tax credits to Humvee drivers and allows the emission standards on sport utility vehicles to be deplorably low. A more realistic option would have been to see the potential of environmentally-friendly alternative fuel options, which in the end help the environment as well as give us back our independence. Bush refused to take that option seriously.

Good presidents in the past have asked our country to give up and sacrifice in times of war and crisis. George W. Bush has only asked us to sacrifice one thing for the war on terror: our civil liberties. Now, thanks to the Patriot Act, the government can infringe on your first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and 14th amendment rights. They can investigate any citizen without probable cause just by saying it is for "intelligence purposes" ( Bush talks about how freedom is on the march, but gives our own freedom a quiet shove out the door. Liberty is a key American ideal, and it should not be the first and only thing our president asks us to sacrifice.

Finally, a good leader should bring unity. In fact, our president promised it. What puzzles me is that, unlike any other president before him, Bush was given not only a united country after Sept. 11 but a world that hurt for us and was willing to help us fight the war on terrorism. Our president took that support for granted and squandered it. How can someone who is such a viable leader do that? Some people admire him for treating those who disagree with him as if they are traitors, but I don’t. I don’t want a president in office that cannot understand that his view is not the only view. We need a president who can work with others.

Instead, this president rushed us into war, ignoring all the warnings and criticisms of his fellow countrymen and his peers in the world. Since being in Iraq, our reasons for going to war have fallen through — there are no weapons of mass destruction, no link between Al Qaeda and Saddam and the Iraqi people are still waiting to wake up from the nightmare to the true freedom we promised. Don’t believe me? Ask them. Ask the mother whose children were killed by a "smart bomb" that missed its target.

Now we are in Iraq with no just reasoning. Bush’s style of leadership refuses to see mistakes. To Bush, it is better to show resolve and never admit faults than change course of action, even if human life is at risk. We need a leader who can see more than one option, especially when thousands are dying for unjust reasons.

Until my experience watching this president, I called myself a republican. From this president, I learned to see the world in checks and balances. I believe that is one of our government’s most admirable qualities. However, we’re off balance and it shows. One party rules the house, senate, supreme court and presidency. Because of this, Bush has been able to go farther with bad leadership than he should have. Since there has been no balance, there is no one to stand up to Bush except for the American people. If we let Bush continue, I fear he’ll only continue to lead America into the ground.

Just think of all America has been through in the last four years. Think of all of the things Bush has pushed in that time. He’s pushed for poor environmental laws and tax cuts for the upper class while taking us to war with bad intelligence and to this day keeps making poor excuses to justify it. He has destroyed our reputation and our ability to be a moral leader in this world by demanding that everyone follow him and saying that anyone who questions him is his enemy. He has done this all while taking away our constitutional liberties. These are all things that haunt me when I think of our president and whenever I think of what could happen with four more years of misguided, unchecked leadership. Bush is not only inept, he’s proactive, and that’s a dangerous mix. When you vote, think of that. I am not na•ve enough to expect that I’ve convinced anyone to change their mind, but I just want bring to light the risk of another four years of Bush, not just for America but for the world. I personally cannot justify taking that risk.

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Title: America needs a fresh start this year | Author: Joseph Beaudreau | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2004-10-27 | Internal ID: 4146