U.S. not better off under Bush

Americans are more politically divided than ever.

All good, patriotic Americans have a duty to their country. On this much I can agree with the Bush administration. Where I differ is the definition of “duty.” To listen to the White House tell it, your duty is to never question, to always support the good (the administration) and condemn all evil (anyone who disagrees with it).

But the way I see it, the only duty all you good, patriotic, God-fearing Americans have is to assure this administration’s ouster this fall.

Partisan politics aside, under no objective measure could President George W. Bush’s time in office be considered a success. Don’t believe me? Apply this simple litmus test, devised by Republican patron saint Ronald Reagan: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

The answer, for most Americans, is a resounding “no.”

Partisan politics aside, the administration has been a disaster. They’ve certainly given new meaning to the term “bully pulpit.” Remember the United States after Sept. 11, 2001? Remember how, for one brief, shining moment, we all got along? Remember how the rest of the world actually sympathized with us? It was the silver lining in the black storm cloud that was my generation’s “Where were you when” moment. Surely, this event could not, would not be politicized.

But the administration has shown a truly remarkable ability to politicize everything. Disagree with the war in Iraq? You’re helping the terrorists. Disagree with out-of-control fiscal policies? You’re helping the terrorists. Want to know Saudi Arabia’s role in the Sept. 11, attacks? You’re helping the terrorists. Worried about your civil liberties? You’re helping the terrorists. Are you a teacher? I hate to inform you that you actually are a terrorist.

Forget Americans getting along and sympathy from the world – we’re more politically divided than ever and most of the world no longer trusts us.

Partisan politics aside, the economy is a mess. The administration can claim economic recovery all it wants, but the fact is that the job market is worse than it has been in years, worse even than it was under Bush’s dad. But how can this be? Bush’s policies only help billionaires. Billionaires are doing great. But everyone else has to deal with the skyrocketing costs of health care and an utter dearth of jobs.

Look no further than the drug companies for proof of the rich-first philosophy. Government policies allow them to gouge the U.S. consumer for higher profits while selling the same product outside our borders for considerably cheaper. This benefits drug companies, not Americans (kudos to Gov. Tim Pawlenty for Minnesota’s new Canadian prescription drug Web site).

Partisan politics aside, I don’t want to pay for Bush’s debts. For years, the formula was simple: Vote Democrat, and you get higher taxes and higher government spending; vote Republican and you get lower taxes and lower spending. But Bush has managed to create a new paradigm by lowering taxes and raising spending, running up insane debts in the process. How can the administration promote fiscal responsibility with a straight face?

Partisan politics aside, I don’t like being lied to. I didn’t like it when President Bill Clinton lied about oral sex, but I like it even less that Bush lied in his State of the Union address about weapons of mass destruction. What’s the difference between the two? One cost lots of lives (Hint: It wasn’t the oral sex lie). And don’t say Bush didn’t know about the weapons, because it is becoming increasingly clear that he did.

Partisan politics aside, I worry about my country, and so should you. So be a good, patriotic American, and when you enter that ballot booth in November, vote for Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., or Ralph Nader, or the ghost of Elvis Presley. But whatever you do, don’t vote Bush.

Matt Graham is a journalism sophomore. He welcomes comments at [email protected]