Celebrate Divisiveness

by | Nov 7, 2004

In his phone call conceding the election to President Bush, John Kerry is reported as having said we need to “do something” about all the divisiveness in the country. This is wrong on two counts. First, division on matters of principle is a good thing. The primary principle at stake in this election was the […]

In his phone call conceding the election to President Bush, John Kerry is reported as having said we need to “do something” about all the divisiveness in the country.

This is wrong on two counts.

First, division on matters of principle is a good thing. The primary principle at stake in this election was the doctrine of pre-emptive strike against known terrorist states — in the current case, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Throughout the campaign, John Kerry argued that this is an entirely invalid principle, and that the United States has no right to defend itself until or unless it is actually attacked by a country — and not necessarily even then, if the U.N. does not sanction it through some kind of a “global test.” Plainly put, according to Kerry’s underlying premises, it was not valid to invade Iraq; but if Saddam Hussein had actually dropped a nuclear bomb on Israel (our only real ally in the Middle East) or aided al Qaeda in shipping biological agents into Manhattan, killing thousands or millions, then it might be acceptable to strike back — provided the U.N. approves, of course.

President Bush argued the opposite: The United States has every right to go on the offensive against any and all terrorist-sponsoring states, with or without the world’s approval. This proved shocking to chronically indignant Hollywood liberals and warmed over 60’s pacifists, but it was something a majority of voters chose to endorse on Election Day.

In a battle between two opposing principles, one is necessarily right and one is necessarily wrong. It is of life-or-death importance that the right principle win, especially in matters of national defense, even if the advocate of the right principle (i.e. President Bush) does not implement it as consistently as he might.

In this context, we should be glad the country is divided. Division beats a situation where the overwhelming majority is wrong, and where the idiotic views of people such as John Kerry, Michael Moore and Jimmy Carter would carry the day. It would be better if an overwhelming majority agreed with the correct principle, but we can be happy that, in the end, the right principle prevailed by a decent popular vote margin.

The other sense in which John Kerry is completely off base is his assumption that there really is all that much division between the Republican and Democratic Party policies. Aside from the all important matter of defense, and tax cuts too of course, there really isn’t much difference between Kerry’s watered down liberalism and Bush’s apologetic “compassionate conservatism.”

President Bush’s first term showed that he will happily spend as much or more than a moderate to liberal Democratic President would spend on social welfare programs. He increased the money going to Medicare, only in smaller amounts than the Democrats would. He massively increased farm subsidies and played around with protective steel tariffs. He passed campaign finance “reform,” which amounted to censorship of political speech. He advocated expansion of the welfare state, only requiring that it be run by private church organizations rather than secular bureaucracies (something unlikely to happen to any significant extent).

On the basic issue of expanding the welfare state, there are few real differences between the Democrats and Republicans other than the exact price tag with our tax dollars. In this sense, the election was less about principle and more about personality — whether you liked John Kerry’s smooth, articulate and academic style or whether your preferred President Bush’s simple, homespun and plain-speaking style. Differing opinions over personal mannerisms hardly constitute serious division — either the sort worth worrying about, or the kind based on genuine philosophical differences.

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: www.DrHurd.com.

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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