The Imperfect President And His Dangerous Opponent

by | Oct 30, 2004

Q: I have read your article entitled “Election 2004: Looking Ahead While Living Today” and while I am leaning towards voting for Bush for the very same reasons you list, I was wondering how you respond to the following quote by Ayn Rand: “A half-battle is worse than none: it does not end in mere […]

Q: I have read your article entitled “Election 2004: Looking Ahead While Living Today” and while I am leaning towards voting for Bush for the very same reasons you list, I was wondering how you respond to the following quote by Ayn Rand: “A half-battle is worse than none: it does not end in mere defeat — it helps and hastens the victory of your enemies.” I’m concerned that I should vote for Kerry because his non-battle against terrorism will be better than the half-battle waged by Bush. Thanks for any thoughts you have on this, because I believe that this election is destined to become one of the more important ones in recent history.

A: FYI, Ayn Rand wrote the following about voting for President Nixon over George McGovern in 1972: “I am not an admirer of President Nixon, as my readers know. But I urge every able-minded voter, of any race, creed, color, age, sex, or political party, to vote for Nixon as a matter of national emergency. This is no longer an issue of choosing the lesser of two commensurate evils. The choice is between a flawed candidate representing Western civilization and the perfect candidate of its primordial enemies … If there were some campaign organization called ‘Anti-Nixonites for Nixon,’ it would name my position.” (“The Ayn Rand Letter,” August 28, 1972.)

The same applies to this year’s election. President Bush is a flawed candidate representing the right of America to defend itself, pre-emptively if necessary, against dangerous enemies. John Kerry, if elected, will stand for outright appeasement and pacifism. He says that he will defend us if we are attacked, but (1) there is absolutely nothing in his voting record to suggest this would ever be the case (note his vote against the first Gulf War and every major weapons system proposed during the Cold War, etc.); and (2) his promise defies the fact that we have already been attacked and will be attacked again if we don’t continue to take action against our known enemies. How are we supposed to believe that John Kerry will retaliate when we are next attacked when he won’t properly defend us after the first attack?

We don’t have the luxury of sitting around and waiting for the perfect President to come along. These times are too dangerous. Given a choice between a President who will use force to defend us and a President who will not do so, there’s no question about whom to select.

It’s important to understand what John Kerry’s candidacy represents, because when you vote for Kerry the man you will also be voting for what he represents. John Kerry is the current poster boy for the anti-war message of Howard Dean last year and Michael Moore this year. The central theme of this message is that the United States has no right to defend itself with military force unless it meets a “global test.” This test will never be objectively defined, but Senator Kerry’s record in Congress over two decades shows us that it’s exactly what the terrorists want. President Clinton, who was not the outright pacifist John Kerry is, but was very nearly so, applied this policy throughout the 1990’s when U.S. interests abroad were attacked by terrorists (including Osama bin Laden) time and again. Clinton did absolutely nothing other than, of course, hand the issue of terrorism over to the hapless U.N. — who would never favor the use of American force unless, as was the case in Kosovo, it is an act of selflessness of no benefit whatsoever to American interests.

There is much to criticize in President Bush’s foreign policy (to say nothing of his domestic agenda). However, in the end, we all must live another day to fight the philosophical battle for freedom in this country. We cannot win philosophical battles unless we are alive to do so. At least under President Bush we are operating on the principle that the use of American military force is a valid option in the continuing fight against terrorism. President Bush recognizes that terrorism is not confined merely to al Qaeda, and that it will not end with the bombing of their camps and caves in Afghanistan — nor even with the capture of Osama bin Laden. Bush has taken the war against terrorism overseas and we have actually gone 3 years without an attack on our soil. His current policies are not enough to sustain our safety, especially with the Iranian mullahs still in power, and, of course, with North Korea as a serious threat as well. But John Kerry proposes nothing but summits, diplomatic “engagement” and arms talks with these two countries, while President Bush has at least not ruled out military action against them.

Most disturbing of all, John Kerry, in the first presidential debate, roundly condemned President Bush for increasing our stockpile of nuclear weapons and vows to reduce this stockpile as one of his first acts as President. Reduce nuclear stockpiles when we’re facing nuclear blackmail (and who knows what else) from North Korea and religious fanatics in coming years? Hello? Doesn’t this tell you something? Don’t you think our enemies are watching closely to see the outcome of this election?

To evade the dangers we face today and knowingly vote for the candidate who will not use force against our enemies rests on the view that all is hopeless and we might as well give up. I have not given up. I refuse to choose between philosophical consistency, on the one side, and appeasement of our enemies on the other. The U.S. did not have philosophical consistency when fighting Communism, but President Reagan got it right enough to ultimately bring the Soviets down — in that case, without even firing a shot. Would it have been better to vote for Walter Mondale and Michael Dukakis because “half a battle is worse than none?” Hardly.

You can talk all you want about how “half a battle is worse than none,” but the fact remains that taking the country in the direction John Kerry will take us will most definitely appease our enemies and thereby place us in even more danger than we already are.

President Bush’s opponents in the Democratic Party have very effectively painted the President as the candidate of steadfast opposition to terrorism through the use of military force — something they regard as a bad thing. Their characterization of Bush is greatly exaggerated, regrettably. But voting for President Bush provides us all with an opportunity to tell the world (most importantly, our enemies) that this is the direction we want things to take, as opposed to a return to President Clinton’s policy of non-response.

Perhaps you are still thinking: “But I want the perfect President or none at all.” OK, take that attitude if you like. But remember the consequences of what you’re doing, and the message you’re sending to our leaders and our enemies by voting Kerry into office: “President Bush was wrong to use military force to defend American interests. We will not do this in the future.”

You can better believe that this is a message our enemies will hear and act upon.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at:

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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