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Two weeks ago, I suggested that George Bush’s presidency had turned out to be amazingly similar to what we had feared from Al Gore. The only major difference is that there’s very little conservative opposition to Bush’s expansion of government, while we could have expected fierce opposition to Gore.

The article provoked some angry reactions from people who said that only a fool could fail to notice all the good deeds George Bush has done.

The Bush agenda

Not wanting to be a fool, I’ve compiled a list of the good things conservatives believe George Bush has achieved so far. Let’s look at them:

  1. He opposed the Kyoto agreement on global warming, while Al Gore supported it. But since the Senate had already rejected the treaty, it doesn’t matter what the president thinks about it.

  2. He’s said he wants to cancel the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty so the U.S. can build a missile defense. All well and good. But he hasn’t done anything to get America out of the treaty or to protect us from missile attack, beyond what Bill Clinton had already done. So far, it’s just talk.

  3. He hasn’t signed a bill imposing new gun restrictions. But, then, Congress hasn’t passed such a bill, so we don’t know what he’ll do when the test comes. But he’s already proposed closing “loopholes” in the unconstitutional gun laws already on the books. And given the way he’s embraced foreign aid, campaign-finance reform, federal health care and practically everything else, why should we assume he won’t sign the next gun-control bill? (He signed many such bills in Texas.)

  4. Bush and Gore make opposing public statements on abortion. But just as Bill Clinton did nothing to promote abortion, so George Bush has done nothing to reduce abortions.

  5. On Social Security, Bush has talked about wanting to let you invest a teensy bit of what now goes down the Social Security drain. But he has sent no specific proposal to Congress. Even if Congress would turn it down, shouldn’t Bush at least make the Democrats publicly oppose your right to invest your own earnings?

  6. Al Gore probably wouldn’t have pushed through a tax cut as Bush did. In my view, a tax cut without a spending cut means only that the monstrous burden of big government is being rearranged – not reduced. But since others may see the issue differently, this matter is at least debatable. However, even here Bush discarded some of the provisions he had labeled essential – such as tax relief for corporations.

  7. Perhaps Al Gore wouldn’t have handled the terrorist situation as Bush has. But we don’t know what Gore would have done. Prior to Sept. 11, we didn’t know how Bush would have handled such a crisis. In fact, he’s already reversed some of his earlier promises – such as not imposing pro-American governments on foreign countries.

The scorecard

In sum, George Bush seems very good on things that don’t count – gun bills he hasn’t had to veto, environmental treaties that won’t be enacted anyway, talking about the ABM treaty or reforming Social Security while doing nothing about them.

But where something has actually happened – foreign aid, farm subsidies, education, health care, campaign-finance reform, corporate welfare, and much more – he’s expanding government at a blinding pace, just as Al Gore probably would have done.

And I doubt that Gore would have signed a punitive tariff on foreign steel – which could trigger a terrible trade war and injure the economy.

Who’s to blame?

Am I carping at George Bush?

No, I’m carping at the conservatives who would have been screaming bloody murder if Al Gore were president and had done exactly what George Bush has done.

Conservatives don’t oppose Bush because he’s a Republican. For most Democrats and Republicans, it’s all just a game – “beat the other team, whatever it takes.”

If all you want is a president who will say what you want to hear, George Bush is your man. But if you want a president who actually does something to make your life better and reduce the government to its constitutional limits, you’re no better off with Bush than with Gore.

Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

Raise your sights

They tell you that in politics you must compromise. But all the compromises have been in the direction of bigger and more oppressive government. There are never any compromises in our favor – producing smaller reductions than we might want.

If you don’t ask for what you want – if you don’t demand what you want as the price of your support – you shouldn’t be surprised that you never get what you really want.

When are you going to raise your sights – and stop supporting those who are selling out your few remaining liberties?

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