SOME OF OUR READERS VIEW THE CLASH of political parties as meaningless. Here's a letter from Pete Berglar of St. Louis: "I try not to be a cynic, because God is in control, not Democrats or Republicans. Nevertheless, I find myself agreeing more often than I'd like with the old saw about the two parties: 'There's not a dime's worth of difference between the two.' I read often in WORLD concern over losing the Senate, House, or White House to Democrats, but wonder if it really makes any difference who is in control?"
I agree with Mr. Berglar that many Republicans have been disappointing-but here's my short list of where we'd be domestically if liberal Democrats had controlled all branches of government over the past two decades: Over 3 million abortions per year. Euthanasia rampant. Gay "marriage" legal everywhere. Homeschooling illegal. Christian schools facing severe restrictions. Propaganda in public schools more virulent. Tax rates higher. Nationalized and inferior health care our only choice.
The GOP, for all its weaknesses (including the tendency of some Republicans to back the liberal agenda), has helped to keep those developments from occurring. Does offering that list mean that WORLD is a Republican front group? No way. WORLD has criticized GOP leaders on many issues. We are journalists, not courtiers, and we try to follow biblical principle rather than particular princes.
I've personally felt the challenge. I helped a little in developing the compassionate conservative vision, but when it was necessary to decide in 2000 whether to be a journalist or a TeamBush member, I chose journalism. The Bush folks were nice, although I suspect relieved that someone who excited virulent liberal opposition did not ask for a job. Shortly after inauguration day Karl Rove took me to his office (formerly Hillary Clinton's) and showed me her hidden vanity mirror. Then I irritated the administration by journalistically questioning aspects of its faith-based initiative, and haven't been back to the White House for a while. No problem; after receiving a lot of attention during 1995 and 1996, and again in 1999 and 2000, I've learned that I can take it or leave it.
Does the Democratic Party have some honest candidates and the GOP some slimeballs? Of course, and I will not vote for a candidate I know to be an unrepentant adulterer or a major-league liar. But political correctness dominates Democrats more than it does Republicans, and PC pandering leads to dishonesty. Liberal teachers unions are so influential in the Democratic Party that it can't see straight on educational choice. Al Gore's foreign policy would leave the U.S. dependent on the UN. Congressional Democrats are doing their best to eviscerate welfare reform and make more people dependent on the government once again.
As to George W. Bush: Even though I'd like him to push harder in several domestic areas, I'm so glad that he is president, and not only because of the usual policy concerns. Here's another personal story, about my one encounter with Bill Clinton. It came at the very end of 1997 at a "Renaissance Weekend," one of those affairs right before New Year's Eve that brought together over a thousand liberal Friends of Bill and several conservatives such as myself. (We were entertainment.) When I had the opportunity to talk with Mr. Clinton one evening, I mentioned that I was writing a chapter on Henry Clay for a book on American leaders, and saw many Clay-Clinton similarities.
The president did not ask what the similarities were, or I would have told him: Henry Clay gave insinuating speeches in which he said, essentially, I feel your pain; other Americans saw him as smooth but untrustworthy; he was a bigtime womanizer. But Mr. Clinton did not ask; instead he said, "That's such an interesting period of American history. I think about it all the time." OK. The next morning, while I was saying a few words about race relations and trans-racial adoption, Mr. Clinton wandered in and during the audience participation segment made a comment: "This is such a crucial matter for America. I think about it all the time." And so it went.
I don't know how many times Mr. Clinton told people that he was thinking about their particular concern all the time-or how many times he did not tell people what he was really thinking about all the time. What's the value of having an honest president like George W. Bush? It's priceless. And what's the value of having a Congress that's often disappointing but at least not dictatorially pushing a far left agenda? Certainly worth a minute in a voting booth.