Fish or Cut Bait
By John D. Turner
5 Oct 2006

My wife asked me the other day, “Are we planning to do anything to help Republican candidates out this year?”

I had to stop and think.

We are now into October, less than a month before election day. Labor Day has come and gone, Columbus Day is around the corner, and the political cycle is revving up into high gear. Summer is past, school has started, and people are starting to pay more attention to the many races coming up and what the newscasters, pundits and the candidates themselves are saying.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, the Apostle Paul advised, “"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things". Good advice for a young adult just learning what it is to be an adult. Good advice too, for an adult when situations change and it becomes time to become serious.

In past columns I have complained because the Republicans aren’t governing the way I would like them to. I have ruminated about a possible “real” third party that could become a viable force in today’s politics. I have stated that I am a conservative first, and a Republican second. All these things are true, and I take none of them back. However now, with less than a month to go before the general election, it is “time to put away childish things”, and view the world as it is, rather than as I wish it were. To use another euphemism, it is time to fish or cut bait.

When all is said and done, I have two real choices in the upcoming election; to cast my ballot for the Republican candidate, or for the Democrat in each election in which I am legally qualified to vote. The question before me is not whether or not the Republican’s are doing all the things I would like them to do, but rather, would a Democrat majority in Congress be more conducive to what I would like to see done, or less.

If I determine that a Republican administration would be, in my estimation, in the country’s best interests, then I should do what I can to help Republican candidates win election. If it is my best judgment that a Democrat administration is in the country’s best interests, then I should do what I can to ensure that the Democrats control one or both houses of Congress after the dust settles on Election Day.

As a citizen of this country, endeavoring to pass on to my children a country that is in the best shape I can help to make it, this is my civic responsibility as a voter.

I have heard many express such frustration with the Republicans, whom they have supported in the past, that they have stated their intent to either vote Democrat (as long as the Republicans are going to act like Democrats, I may as well vote for a real Democrat) or sit out this election (they aren’t doing what I want, so why should I bother).

I heard this one quite a bit growing up. I heard it quite a bit from my kids, too, as they grew up. “Well, if you don’t do what I want, I’m going to pick up my marbles and go home. So there!”

I hear this attitude reflected on various talk shows by callers every day on my way to and from work. The common thread seems to be that after all the dust settles, and we have a huge catastrophe here at home (and none of the callers denies that there will be a catastrophe – they fully expect one, and are in fact counting on it), the Republicans and the rest of the electorate will “come to their senses” and do the things they "ought to be doing".

Yes, it’s frustrating when the people we elect don’t do exactly what we want. But we are no longer children. It’s time to think and act as adults. It’s time to put away childish things. Despite the fact that the Republican majority is doing many things I don’t approve of, what would the probable results of a Democrat majority look like?

Global War on Terror/Radical Islam/Islamo-fascism/Term de jure
Republicans: Stay the course. Democrats: Cut and run. It’s that simple. What would be the ramifications?

Stay the course. We will continue to experience death and injury to U.S. service personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan from terrorist/”insurgent” attacks. We will continue to be in Iraq, potentially for years, stabilizing the situation as best we can. No doubt, we will continue to hear ever more strident voices in the media from the left and from Democrats to leave; the mainstream media will continue to paint a picture of dismal failure as they strive to get Democrats elected across the board in the 2008 elections. Ultimately, the goal is a stable, democratic Iraq.

Does this mean the terrorists/insurgents will disappear? Not necessarily, but it does mean that the Iraqi government will be able to handle the situation on its own, and will not be in danger of collapse or civil war.

It also means we continue to fight an “away” game against the terrorists, instead of trying to play a completely defensive game here at home. Please note that a purely defensive game is doomed to failure. We have to catch all their attempts at us, while they only have to get one through to be successful. While playing an away game does not guarantee an attack here at home will never succeed, keeping the enemy off-balance and focusing their attention elsewhere certainly helps the overall equation.

Cut and Run. Ok, I know the Dems vociferously decry this phrase. They would prefer to guzzy it up a bit and call it something high-minded, like “peace with honor” or something of the sort. Be that as it may, the end result would be withdrawal from Iraq and possibly Afghanistan, based on some arbitrary “timetable”, regardless of conditions on the ground, and without regard for whether or not Iraq and/or Afghanistan are able to stand on their own or not. We will have, in the short run, “saved the lives of countless of our brave soldiers”.

In the long run however, we will have put at risk the lives of millions of Americans here at home, as it is unlikely that a Congress that will withdraw from Iraq will do anything meaningful in stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. And if Iraq falls apart, as is likely if we leave before the situation is stable, then all the death and injury to American service personnel to date will have been for nothing, except to give the Democrats a further lever to elect John Kerry, Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, or someone of their ilk to the White House in 2008. That will be useful, won’t it?

Appointment of Conservative Judges
How important is this issue to you? Typically, once a federal judge takes his or her position, they are there for life. So we are talking long-term decisions here. Now granted, you can never be sure how a particular judge will rule in any given case. And yes, there have been disappointments in the past. However on the whole, would you prefer at least a chance of conservatives being put on judicial benches, or would you prefer to have this process blocked until someone of a more liberal bent can be placed into the position. One thing I can pretty much guarantee. As painful as it has been to get conservatives put in place in federal courts with the Republicans in control and the Democrats obstructing at every opportunity, if you turn the reins over to the Liberal Democrats, you can, to quote Tony Soprano, "fuggedaboutit".

Right To Life
This one ties in with the one above. The Supreme Court decision that made abortion a civil right was passed 7-2. If that vote were held today, it would still pass, but only 5-4. The next Supreme Court judge seated will be crucial and you can bet that appointment, whoever makes it, will be a political bloodbath. Both sides know what is at stake. We will have a pro-life president for the next 15 months; who knows how the ’08 election for president will go.

It’s possible that we won’t get another crack at filling a Supreme Court position before a new president takes office. Then again, we might. One thing is certain however, if Republicans lose control of the Senate, a pro-life nominee will never make it past Judiciary Committee, which will then be chaired by pro-abort Senator Patrick Leahy, much less make it to an up-or-down vote, destined to fail in any event, in a Democrat, liberal, pro-choice Senate.

So, possible future conservative Supreme Court nominees? “Fuggedaboutdat” too.

This is one area where conservatives are justly upset at the current Republican administration. The GWOT aside, spending on the domestic side is mushrooming out of control. We really need to get a handle on it and fast.

So, who are the Democrats you can show me who will do that? “But”, you say, “The Republicans are spending like drunken sailors!” And so, the solution is – put people in power that will spend even more? Actually, I am sure the Democrats will propose cuts - right where they usually do; in the Defense budget. Pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan will save billions right there. I wonder in what pork programs they will “invest” that “peace dividend?” Do you really think they will just put it back into the treasury? Democrats are “the party of the people”, remember. Expect increased spending on domestic programs and entitlements, not fiscal responsibility.

Bush Tax Cuts
Perhaps you are one of those who think you are not taxed enough, and wish to altruistically increase your “contributions” to the Federal Government by a few thousand a year. You will get your chance. In a House, and perhaps a Senate under Democrat control, expect immediate legislation to roll back President Bush’s “tax cuts for the wealthy”. Don’t consider yourself wealthy? Don’t worry, you won’t be. If you were one of those who didn’t think the tax cut amounted to much, we’ll see what you think when it starts coming out of your paycheck again.

Even if they don’t somehow succeed in immediately repealing the legislation (you never know, President Bush may discover that veto pen in his pocket that he seems to have misplaced for the past five years), don’t forget that these provisions automatically expire in 2010. Figure the odds a Democrat congress will renew them.

To Continue…

The Wall Street Journal’s on-line Opinion Journal recently published an excellent article which went into more detail on the individual members who would head up the leadership positions in the House should Democrats win control in November. It is an enlightening read. Unless you are the sort who enjoys train wrecks, or thinks that cutting off your nose to spite your face is a fine idea, these are things that should give you pause. Of course, if you are a Liberal, you should be ecstatic.

For those who believe that “things can’t get any worse”, history is replete with examples to the contrary. For those who think that “two years of Democrat mismanagement will be good for the country”, I bet you liked cod liver oil too. At least it had the virtue of supposedly being good for you! I can see nothing good about turning the Congress over to the Liberals.

For those who think two years of Democrat mismanagement will “wake the country up” and get us back to conservative principles, think again. What exactly do you think will change? And are you ready to bet the future of the country on it?

Kids play the game of “see, I told you so”. Adults think about the ramifications of their actions.

First off, it is darned hard to get rid of an entrenched incumbent. When the Republicans took control of the House the last time, most of the seats they gained were open seats, vacated by Democrats who decided not to run. I doubt you will see that happen again on that scale in your lifetime. Second, you will be fighting an uphill battle, as usual, against public perception as portrayed by the mainstream media. For example, the same economy, when run by Republicans, is invariably “the worst economy in 50 years” or words to that effect, despite what the actual economic figures are. By contrast, if the Democrats are in power, it is either “the best economy in 50 years”, or, if things are so dismal that such statements seem completely loopy, simply not mentioned at all.

Face it, conservatives. You will never get an even shake. You will never have a level playing field. As James Carville stated, “It’s a war!” And in war, only a fool gives the enemy a break.

We didn’t get to this point in one fell swoop. We got here gradually; one tiny piece at a time. We won’t get things back the way we want them immediately either. We need to take what we can get, and keep at it until we are where we want to be. And once we get there, we need to keep fighting to keep what we have gained. We won’t be successful if our response to not getting our way every time is to snivel and pick up our marbles and go home.

Sometimes the gains are small. Sometimes we take a step backward in order to advance along a different line of attack. Sometimes we can’t have everything we want when we want it. Welcome to the real world, where real people live! Liberals live in Fantasy Island. Conservatives are supposed to know better.

I have heard this termed derisively as “voting for the lesser of two evils”. I have used the term myself a time or two. This is the childish way of looking at it. It is the way that says “the world isn’t exactly the way I want it to be, so I’m not going to play.” The adult view point is to recognize that, whether you like it or not, one of the two outcomes is going to occur. You have a choice between potential outcome A, and potential outcome B. Which do you think is the better of the two? The fact that neither may be what you want is immaterial. You are going to get one or the other.

By the way, not making a decision, by opting out of the process is making a decision. You are not living in Olympian detachment, watching the drama of daily life play out below you, untouched by it all. You are actually going to have to live in the world you are pretending to have opted out of. If the Democrats win in November, you don’t get a special “bye” on what happens afterward because you didn’t choose.

This is not voting for the lesser of two evils. It is rather, voting for the better of two potential outcomes.

So I am going to have to sit down and think about that question my wife asked me. Because when I look at what the current Republican administration and congress have been doing, I confess that I am not entirely happy. There are some things I think they are doing well, and other places where I think they have really screwed up. But when I look at what the Democrat alternatives are, I don’t see anything that is good for the future of myself, my children, or this country. Perhaps some day there may be issues the Democrats espouse that I might be able to vote for, but not while the party is firmly in the grasp of the radical left.

We are in a critical time in the history of our country. The wrong decisions could have vast consequences for us all. It is no longer “business as usual”; it hasn’t been since 11 September 2001. I have known that intellectually – but haven’t actually sat down and thought about the ramifications of people gaining power who don’t really believe that to be true.

We no longer have the option of picking up our marbles and going home. If we do, we may not have a home to go to. We can’t afford any longer to get in a snit if things don’t go precisely our way. We can’t afford any longer to pretend that it’s ok if things are bad for a short while because things will always turn out OK in the end – they may not.

In short, it’s time to politically grow up and start acting like a responsible adult.

It is time to put away childish things.

NOTE: Since I wrote this article, the Foley scandal has broken. For those so outraged that this is yet another reason to vote against Republicans in general, or stay home and not vote at all, please re-read this article. All Republicans are not pedophiles. Let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Foley is gone, as he should be. Hopefully, charges will be brought, and we can put him in jail where he belongs. Anger is good, but blind anger is, well, blind. At the end of the day, what have we accomplished if in our anger we bring about a Congress that will undo any progress we have made, and add an another 2, 4, 6, 8 or more years of additional burden that we have to try and undo? Progress is slow enough as it is. We don’t need more congress (pun intended).

For my part, I find the timing of this scandal to be suspicious. I want to know “who knew what and when did they know it”. Not just Hastert and the Republicans, but the Democrats and news media as well. If people are deliberately trying to influence this election by the timing of this event, I want that to become public knowledge. And I want them prosecuted as well, if possible.

Is this the only “October Surprise”, or are there others waiting in the wings?