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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Which party deserves your vote tomorrow?

    Republicans a model of gross incompetence

    Come tomorrow, a referendum will finally be held on the incompetence and corruption tarring Washington, D.C. Normally, I would urge voters to vote based upon issues, not party lines. Normally, I would argue that voting across the board for one party is a sign of simple-mindedness. Normally, a registered independent, I would praise and denounce Republicans and Democrats alike.

    This, however, is not a normal year.

    The Republican Party has held complete control of both Congress and the White House for six years since 2000, minus a brief period during which one Republican senator changed his affiliation to Independent. The Republicans have shut the Democrats out of the decision-making process. The results have been devastating:

    Two thousand eight hundred American soldiers dead in Iraq. One thousand eight hundred dead after a hurricane named Katrina and a ham-fisted federal response. The blatant cronyism in the nomination of the incompetent Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. The Valerie Plame scandal. The indictment and resignation of I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

    The Jack Abramoff scandal. Republican Rep. Randy “”Duke”” Cunningham: a convicted felon, currently sitting in federal prison. Republican Rep. Bob Ney: recently resigned and accused of corruption. Republican Rep. Tom DeLay, former House majority leader: resigned, indicted, cooked.

    Republican Rep. Mark Foley: a pedophile, resigned, in rehab.

    Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo Bay. Flouting the Geneva Conventions, the Bill of Rights, habeas corpus. A nuclear North Korea. An Iran ever closer to nuclear weapons. And an Iraq that never had them.

    CIA secret prisons. Domestic wire-tapping. Torture. Donald Rumsfeld.

    It has cost us all 2,800 American lives. And for what? Have we yet captured Osama bin Laden? That is what we set out to do in September 2001, after all.

    The Republican Party has been a model of incompetence, corruption, abuse of power, filth, demagoguery and hate. And Congress, supposedly a bastion of checks and balances, has been nothing if not a rubber-stamp parliament for an administration out of touch with reality. There are few Republicans left standing today who deserve an editorialized defense.

    Often, one can expect the GOP to get economic policy right – or at least better than the Democrats. But this too is another example of gross incompetence. In six years, a $250 billion budget surplus during the Clinton years has become a $400 billion budget deficit during the Bush administration. The privatization of social security was a good idea, but even a rubber-stamp Congress with majorities in both chambers could not see it through. Tax reform has stalled as well: The Alternative Minimum Tax will begin to eat into middle-class incomes this year.

    The Republican Party pushed divisive social issues when more pressing problems deserved our government’s attention. Gay marriage was portrayed as public enemy No. 1 when a mismanaged war in Iraq went south. The defense of English from an “”onslaught”” of illegal, Spanish-speaking immigrants is now considered a national security imperative.

    And who can forget the Terri Schiavo debacle? It really was touching when the Republicans – out of heartfelt sympathy, I’m sure – called an emergency session of Congress to prevent the removal of Schiavo’s feeding tube. Never mind that this was a family and state issue, not a federal one.

    The federal government has overstepped its bounds time and again. The Republican Party of today is the big-government type. In foreign policy, domestic policy and social affairs, the Republican-dominated government attempts to get involved, messily and ineptly. Conservatism was supposed to be about small government, individual free will – almost libertarian orthodoxy.

    No such thing here.

    It’s time for a change. The Democrats aren’t perfect, but a new party in power in Congress might at least wake the White House up to Americans’ displeasure with a GOP that has grown fat and happy on abuse of power.

    Accuse me of simple-mindedness, but across the board, the Democrats deserve your vote.

    Matt Stone is a senior majoring in international studies and economics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu


    Republicans offer solid track record

    Most of us are aware of the prevailing sense here and nationwide that Republicans are on the way out – the likelihood of the GOP retaining both houses of Congress is not enormously high. However probable, projected Republican losses will be largely regrettable. Despite steady tirades of those on the left, the current leadership has done an admirable job of managing and defending this country. Sept. 11, Hurricane Katrina; this country has taken more than its fair share of hits – yet it has, for the most part, been able to overcome them through its current leadership.

    Consider the economy. Annual gross domestic product growth has at times exceeded 4 percent in recent years, and the strong unemployment rate gives us an idea of how economic growth translates into job growth. Our Republican president and Republican Congress pass this test with flying colors: In October, the unemployment rate fell to 4.4 percent, a remarkably low figure. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, only 11 months since 1970 have seen lower unemployment rates.

    Still, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saw fit last week to bark that Republicans under President Bush are responsible for “”the worst jobs record since the Great Depression.”” Despite the fact that Pelosi seems to be living on another planet, she is likely to become Speaker of the House should her party take control in January.

    The majority party is often lambasted for a perceived inability to control the national budget deficit. Stumping for Senate-hopeful Jim Pederson in Tucson on Thursday, President Clinton and other speakers attempted to gain the support of younger voters by making frequent mention of said deficit. While it is true the budget shortfall has seen substantial growth in recent years, the trend actually began in the last year of Clinton’s own presidency – and that trend has been reversed in recent years, as evidenced by the recent substantial reduction of the deficit since 2004. Tax-cut-spurred economic growth has translated into increased federal tax revenues, which apparently have helped to significantly reduce our deficit. When it comes to the budget deficit, the nation is headed in the right direction.

    Now, while our economic success should receive much more attention than it does (what ever happened to “”It’s the economy, stupid!””?), the pundits tell us that the war in Iraq is the issue of this election. High-profile Democrats such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry voted for this war, as did Jon Kyl and his fellow Republicans.

    The issue now is how to help this great nation for which we are now responsible – and pulling troops out before Iraq can stand on its own two feet simply makes no sense. That would be a disservice to the Iraqi people who depend on America to finish the job, and it would hand the nation over to Iranian-backed sectarian violence. We must let generals run this war, not politicians who want to set politically motivated timelines.

    Of course, there are the scandals, and there are those who have and will continue to shamelessly politicize them. There’s Jack Abramoff, clearly a bad guy. Apparently Abramoff knew the president. Big deal; ask Hillary Clinton’s spokeswoman Ann Lewis about her boss’ Abramoff money, and you’ll find that influence-peddling is a bipartisan issue. To blame one party over the other would be setting a double standard.

    What about Rep. Mark Foley? Maybe Republican leaders knew years ago about Foley’s actions; maybe they didn’t. What we do know is that the Republican Party forced his retirement from the House and is conducting its own investigation. In 1983, Democratic Rep. Gerry Studds admitted to an affair with a teenage page, but how did his party bosses react? Because they were in charge at the time, Studds escaped with a mere censure and went on to serve six more terms. That’s no indictment on the Democratic Party. Scandal management is notoriously poor in politics, and that’s the way it has always been.

    The point is, don’t walk into the polling booth tomorrow without asking yourself if this nation of ours is better off than many thought it would be on that frightening morning in 2001. Sort through the rhetoric, look at the numbers and remember: Don’t mess with success.

    David Francis is a pre-business sophomore. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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