Publicola has posted his much promised meme about Bush & the AWB and is wondering if the blogsphere will still vote for Bush if the AWB ban is renewed.
The answer for me is a bit complicated as I think Bush has lots of problems, I live in Virginia (which should vote overwhelmingly for Bush, and if it doesn't, he doesn't stand a chance at re-election, so I have the luxury of throwing my vote away), and the fact that I will likely be out in the field working to re-elect Bush in some capacity this fall (and so therefore do not really want to be a hypocrite).
You see, I am not a one issue guy. As Ed Koch, former Democratic Mayor of New York City always says, pick your top 12 issues and vote for the guy who you agree with on 8 of them. I don't follow that exactly, instead I have adopted a modified test whereby I take all my issues, handicap them, and then apply the test. That way, my concerns over RKBA and national security aren't weighted equally with my desire to lower taxes. Sure, I think lower taxes are incredibly important, but they just arent as important as national security.
So, what are my big issues? Here ya go, in no particular order.
- Integrity, honesty, trustworthiness - Bush wins this hands down. As you will see below, I simply don't trust Waffles and Grits on anything.
- Economic and Tax Policy - Bush wins.
- Size of Government - I certainly don't trust Kerry on this, but Bush has managed the issue poorly. A third party can win points here.
- 1st Amendment - Again, I think Bush has managed the issue poorly but don't trust Kerry to do any better. A third party can win points here.
- 4th Amendment - Bush has destroyed the issue (I'm ok with Patriot Act activities and profiling, I just don't like the constant erosion of the 4th Amendment). However, it will not improve under Kerry and I doubt i will find a third party candidate who agrees with my vision on the 4th and other provisions of the Constitution.
- 5th Amendment (Property Rights) - Bush has been as bad as Clinton on this issue. Frankly, he has let Thomas Sansonetti (who along with his minions at the Justice Department deserve a good tarring and feathering), basically adopt the Sierra Club/American Rivers wish list, ignoring clear Supreme Court directives and stealing the land of hard working Americans. Kerry simply won't be better on this issue and it provides a real opportunity for a third party candidate to win me over.
- Federalism - Bush should be better than Kerry here, but he simply isn't. However, this isn't a philisophical problem, rather its an issue of bad management. The administration went native upon arriving in D.C. In light of the fact that the original attraction for many to Bush was his MBA and promise to run American like a corporation, his performance on this issue and the lack of management and oversight over his minions is very disturbing. Again a third party could gain ground here, just don't suggest Kerry or any Donk is going to be better than Bush on this issue.
- Homeland Defense - Bush has my clear support here and this issue rises above all others. Still, I think his administration has shown a disturbing willingness to allow politicaly correct concerns over profiling and armed pilots (and passangers - heck, why shouldn't I be allowed to carry on the plane?) to jeapordize our safety. Do I trust Kerry more? No, but it would be nice for Bush to fire Norm Minetta and allow more profiling.
- Support of Free Markets - Bush has my clear support (well, he faltered on steel, but he seems to be attempting to manage the various pressures placed upon his administration over this issue.
- Crime - Again, Bush has my clear support
- Environment - Bush has my clear support. Frankly, on the big picture, there really isn't much of a difference between the two major parties, notwithstanding all the rehtoric. The air and water and soils have been getting cleaner for 30 years and will continue to do so at a steady clip, regardless of who is in the White House. Kyoto will never be ratified and while Dems like to discuss it on the campaign trail, none are dumb enough to allow anything like Kyoto to come even close to ratification. What will change is Kerry is in charge are the appointments to the agencies. Kerry's folks might be more in tune with the career staffers at first, but will soon grow frustrated by their attitudes. Another thing that will change is the willingness of the Agency or its enforcement branch to actually question the assertions of enviros before acting. However, while slightly costly, no one will really be indicted in greater numbers than today, and there wont be significantly more regulations, because the enviros tend to be wrong about a lot and the courts will generally keep them in check (as they have in the past). Thank goodness for the Data Quality Act.
- RKBA - Finally, the 2nd Amendment. Bush is better than Clinton, but hasn't pushed the issue as far as I would have liked. However, in his defense, this is certainly an area better attacked in his second term, not his first. Compared to Kerry, he is light years ahead on this issue. Living and working in D.C. I understand most of the games that are played, and wont really hold Bush responsible if the AWB passes. He is struggling in the polls as a result of Iraq and needs to do what it takes to win more votes. If he decides he can pick up additional votes by signing it (and then repays us next terms) I might be okay with it. However, based upon numerous conversations with White House staffers, I think there is less than a 5% chance this thing comes even close enough to Bush that he has to sweat. That makes it almost a non issue in this analysis. However, if it were to happen, some of the 2nd Amendment plans I've discussed with them for the second term are really exciting - nationwide CCW recognition, lifting of the firearms ban in national parks, and a gun free DC. Still, the jury is still out on this one. Lets see if a dark horse third party shows up to challenge for this.
So far, nothing has happened to make me want to vote for any possible third party candidate. Of my twelve issues Bush carries 6 clearly with third parties able to swoop in on 5 others. The jury is still out on RKBA. Will passage of the AWB be enough to push me over the edge? Tough to say but think its just a red herring. As I already stated, I live in Virginia where my one vote will likely not count as much as in Florida so it could happen. If a third party candidate were to emerge that appealed to me, I would vote for them in a heartbeat. Indeed, I have done this in the past - voting for Andre Marou (libertarian) in 1992 while living in Rhode Island and Harry Brown (libertarian) while living in Vermont. Both times my vote was cast as a rejection of what I thought were weak republican candidates but without the possibility of them hurting the chances of Republican victory.
The problem for the third party candidates is that Bush still commands my respect on so many other issues and has plenty of time to pick up another couple of issues. Right now, I am voting for Bush regardless of what occurs between today and the election. That, of course, can always change.