Why this rabbi will vote for Bush
With pride and gladness and optimism, I shall vote again for George W. Bush. I admit that I voted for him the first time out of gut reactions. I sensed an integrity and decency in him and in Mrs. Bush. That seemed to be just what we needed at a time when cresting economic growth and careening social mores cried out for some old—fashioned goodness. I liked the Bushes' sincere expressions of religion and civility.
I had yet to realize that the policies of the Bush administration would not only restore interest in goodness to the public square, but would provide unprecedented inspiration and incentive for the doing of good both nationally and internationally.
Talk of faith—based initiatives generated heat from the moment the President took office. Yet just the talk gave some encouragement to religious organizations that need—and deserve—the same validation as any other group, if society really believes they are doing something worth while and good.
This Administration's economic programs foster building, owning, giving, helping and employing, whether tax cuts for small businesses, zero down payment initiatives on housing, repeal of the death tax, private retirement accounts for social security, or tax cuts on stocks and bonds dividends.
Bush's opponents would automatically impose more taxation and strict caps on social security in households above a certain income and would assess dividend income. Such measures would be oppressive to households who are raising young families, to those birthing small businesses, to the elderly on fixed incomes who, like everyone else, are sacrificing at a time of low interest rates for the sake of minimizing inflation and encouraging home sales and related industries. They would create hardships for religious and other private social service organizations. Psychologically and financially, different age groups would find it harder to contribute significant funds for the doing of good and for religious education.
President Bush's initiatives have, from the start, been thoughtful, bold and creative.
The Administration's responses to the horrors of September 11, 2001 were perfectly consistent with, and, I dare say, were expedited and refined by, the aforementioned initiatives. The election in Afghanistan, or, better, the participation of women in those elections, is the result of decisive action which was, to paraphrase Victor Davis Hanson's eloquent summation of Bush doctrine, 'the logical extension of compassion at home,' in such programs as 'No Child Left Behind.'
President Bush has been singularly qualified to foster goodness because, it seems, he has no qualms about naming its opposite. I still remember the snickers when he spoke of 'evil doers' after 9—11. It was considered arrogant to use such a term, even though great evil was done, even though it is a good Hebrew, Biblical term. Because he dared speak of 'evil doers,' President Bush forced nations to declare where they stood or would stand in the War Against Terrorism. In other words, he challenged nations to 'turn from evil and to do what is good,' to use the Biblical phrase. Iraq could only have exported evil as long as poison gas—manufacturing and terror—mongering were possible there.
The President inspired over 30 countries to help in Iraq. Those large countries which vociferously opposed the effort have been shown to have been tainted with Saddam Hussein's blood money. Some of them have, to their credit, begun to acknowledge the evil of alliances with rogue regimes. Our country has done a lot of soul—searching on this, as well, encouraged by the current administration.
President Bush has set a high but attainable standard. He calls for accountability. It has become his policy to tell repressive societies, especially friends like Egypt or would—be friends like Tunisia, that having a free press would be good. He was the first to castigate the Malaysian Prime Minister for anti—Semitic remarks, and he has taken anyone to task who argues that Arabs and Muslims incapable of achieving democracy.
After Israel seized the Palestinian Authority's Karine A ship, loaded with explosives and other weapons, Bush noted that it is not good when so—called 'peace partners' are bent on doing what is not good, not right, and not honest. He is the first president to speak of a Palestinian state with leadership 'not compromised by terror,' and to list Hamas, Hezbullah and Islamic Jihad among terrorist organizations. Ariel Sharon trusts this President enough to speak seriously of withdrawing from Gaza.
During this election campaign, the president's opponents have suggested that he stubbornly resists doing what is good. They harp on two issues. First, they paint him as abuser and destroyer of the environment, often invoking his refusal to buy into the Kyoto Conference. Yet, as Zev Chafets observed, the 'agreement' allowed 'China, Indonesia, Brazil and the rest of the Third World—roughly two—thirds of humanity—to pollute as much as they liked.' Bush has been berated for 'walking away' from the conference. Where were the counterproposals? The President understands that coalitions will not work unless everyone is expected to do what is good and to encourage what is right. That's why he has wanted to see the European Union admit and thus strengthen Turkey. With regard to conservation, by the way, respected environmentalists credit Bush's Clear Skies Initiative with the most efficient and economical strategies to date to cap pollutants in power plant emissions.
Bush's opponents persist, secondly, in sticking the word 'outsourcing' into any discussion, including of Afghanistan (!). Yet the Government Accountability Office (GAO) just showed that less than one per cent of job layoffs are due to 'overseas relocation.' Economist Jagdish Bhagwati recently told Der Spiegel that without outsourcing we might save ten jobs but lose 100. What he calls 'investment from multinationals' helps 'countries like India and Mexico fight poverty. Some sectors of Africa sorely need foreign investment. If we Democrats crack down on this, it's not compatible with our notions that Bush and his friends are the nasty guys.'
Any lost job is a tragedy, but jobs that are outsourced offer no future within the United States. That is why the Bush Administration has detailed plans for better job—training programs. Indeed, there are no more thoughtful and well—presented programs in current political discussions, both domestic and global, than those offered on georgewbush.com.
Millennia ago, a respected Hebrew writer admonished us to take note of the man of goodness and integrity. George W. Bush is such a man with such a program.
Rabbi Gertel is an independent voter and is spiritual leader of a synagogue in Chicago. The views expressed here are his own.