We have reached the end of the journey. Tomorrow is Election Day. The stakes are high. Almost everything that can be done, has been done. Let there be no doubt: the choices we make will impact our future for better or for worse.
As I said, almost everything that can be done, has been done. The one thing that remains is to get out the vote. Despite a seeming eternity of media prognostications that the GOP is roadkill, that Karl Rove has lost his mojo, and that the arrival a new era of liberal supremacy is unstoppable, final polling of a number of key races shows the outcome is too close to call. After all, why should we doubt the apparent confidence of a journalistic establishment that, in an earlier era, went to press before the votes had been counted proclaiming: Dewey defeats Truman? At this moment, I honestly cannot predict the partisan control of either house of Congress come January 3rd.
This is the fourth general election in which I will have cast a ballot--and about the eighth I have monitored closely. (I know, I know: I am not normal, for I have closely watched every election since I was old enough to know what politics & elections were--and I come from a family where no one before me had done anything higher than working the polls.) While I have very strong beliefs regarding the best outcome, I have also developed a keen sense for predicting the likely outcome in advance.
Time will tell whether I've shifted away from a seemingly natural tendency to try to identify a winner and go with him regardless of principle. Once upon a time, when I was very young and foolish, I was a Clinton Kool-Aid drinker. In 1999, although I had already decided that I would oppose Al Gore because his radical environmental policies would destroy the coal industry, I sensed that West Virginia was ready to vote Republican, although I had no idea how consequential our 5 electoral votes would prove. In 2001, after we changed history and put President Bush over the top, I was one of few Republicans (and a new Republican at that, as I was a registered Democrat for about a year, only because I lived in one-party Logan County at the time) who sensed that West Virginia was ready to consider electing Republicans in significant numbers down the ticket; we have since moved into position to take control of the House of Delegates and have more than doubled the number of Republican state senators over the last 5 years. With that in mind, I adamantly prefer another history-defying Republican victory but can only predict that the outcome lies in the hands of those of us who share this preference and whether we vote in sufficiently strong numbers to produce this result.
My appeal today has two audiences: first, my fellow conservatives who are at a crossroads over whether to vote--and vote Republican; second, the very small handful of you who are legitimately independent swing voters.
Elections have consequences--every single one of them. The outcome tomorrow will determine whether our resolve to defeat the terrorists and their allies outweighs the desire of the terrorists to kill us. The terrorists believe that America is a paper tiger--that we are, at our core, a bunch of yellow-bellied cowards who will run from a fight. They believe that, unlike President Bush, most Americans are no longer willing to say, as President Kennedy did 45 years ago:
". . . we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty."
There is no doubt that the cut-and-run liberals who harken back to the days of Vietnam and Watergate lack the spine and the willingness to win this battle of wills, but are we as a country of like mind? Five years of no attacks on U.S. soil is no accident and has happened only because we have a President who has committed himself to defending our country, no matter what it takes. In 1974, American conservatives stayed home, allowing nearly 50 liberal "Watergate babies" to be swept into the House of Representatives; in 1975, Congress pulled the rug of financial support from under the South Vietnamese, leading to their defeat and the rise of the killing fields--and leaving in vain the deaths of the 58,000 American servicemen who never came home. That must not happen again as the Iraqi people put their lives on the line to establish a free society and representative government that will shine like a beacon over the entire Middle East, inspiring the oppressed to seek freedom instead of terror and futures as contributing, productive members of open societies instead of martyrs in the cause of jihad.
At home, the consequences are just as stark. For those of us on the right, perhaps no issue is more important than realigning the federal judiciary. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito would not have been confirmed to the Supreme Court under a Democratic Senate. In 1986, a Republican Senate unanimously confirmed Antonin Scalia to the Court; however, in 1987, a Democratic Senate Borked the nomination of Judge Robert Bork. In the wake of Bork's defeat, a moderate Anthony Kennedy was confirmed and President Bush the elder timidly chose David Souter as his first Supreme Court nominee instead of a known conservative. The 1986 election turned the 55-45 Republican majority into a 53-47 Democratic majority; 5 of those losses were by very narrow margins. A few thousand votes in a handful of states (most of which were conservative southern states) meant that 20 years later, a Supreme Court that could have had a reliable 6-3 conservative majority is now divided 4-4-1.
In the War on Terror, Republicans supported spying on the terrorists, tracing and blocking their money, and getting aggressive with them during interrogations at Club Gitmo when they tried not to spill the beans on their upcoming plans. Democrats did not. Their allies at the New York Times blew the cover of our NSA terrorist surveillance program and financial monitoring program. In a just society, the editorial suite of the Old Gray Lady would be marched to the gallows for treason.
We also face choices on whether the President's tax cuts that have revived an economy that was once reeling in the wake of a recession exacerbated by 9-11 and accounting scandals should continue or whether we should, by inaction, allow the largest tax increase in our history to silently take effect. Because of an unprecedented move by Senate Democrats in 2001 to filibuster the tax cuts, the tax cuts had to be enacted under arcane rules that automatically repealed them in 10 years unless renewed by a future act of Congress. So now, the clock is ticking. Over the next 5 years, the top marginal rates in each tax bracket will rise between 13% and 50%; taxes on capital gains will rise by 1/3; dividend taxes will rise 164%; the 55% Death Tax, scheduled itself to die in 2010, will rise from the dead in 2011; small businesses will lose a variety of favorable tax accounting rules that have created huge incentives for job-creating investments; and families with children will see $500 per child in new taxes just through the loss of the increased child tax credit, which will drop from $1000 per child to $500 per child, not to mention other factors that will increase their tax bills. That is, unless Congress makes the tax cuts permanent. The House of Representatives has voted every year to do so; the Senate has not because breaking a filibuster requires 60 votes and there are only 55 Republican senators, not all of whom can be counted upon all the time. House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member (and Chairman if the Democrats take control) Charlie Rangel says there's not one of the hundreds of provisions of the tax cut package he would like to continue. House Speaker Wannabe Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, says she likes tax cuts; as the President has been saying, she must be a secret admirer, because she has not voted a single time to cut taxes when it counted.
Thanks to the President's tax cuts and resulting economic boom, unemployment in the U.S. today is 4.4%; unemployment in France is twice the U.S. rate, at 8.8%; Germany is two and a half times ours, with 10.4% unemployment; even our neighbors to the north in Canada have 40% higher unemployment, at 6.2%. U.S. stocks are trading at all-time highs; interest rates still remain near historic lows; inflation is tame at under 3%; and gas prices, while still high, are well below historic, inflation-adjusted highs (does anyone who is old enough remember the days of Jimmah Cotta? Do you really want to go back?).
Some people say we should deliberately split control of Washington; that our constitutional system of checks and balances can only work effectively if there is a real friction between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. In a time when continuing the status quo on autopilot would leave our country strong, safe, secure, prosperous, and free, maybe you would be right. However, we deal today with a perilous status quo in which inaction leads straight to disaster. The party in opposition would gladly sit silently as taxes increase dramatically and approaches foreign policy with its head in the sand, failing to recognize that 5 years of no attacks on U.S. soil does not mean the threats we face have subsided. Liberal Democrats in Congress do not share our vision of doing whatever it takes to win the War on Terror and cutting taxes to keep our economy the envy of the world. While we certainly have our faults for failing to act to shrink government, liberal Democrats have resisted these efforts in the past at almost every turn, instead seeking to constantly enlarge the role of government far beyond anything for which we conservatives have rightfully criticized the Washington Republicans.
In summary, my fellow conservatives: whatever grievances you may have with the Washington Republican establishment will pale in comparison to what a Democratic Congress--even a Congress of split control--will do. The time for action is in primary elections, especially in solidly Republican states and congressional districts where we do not need to nominate RINOs to win, not by staying home during the general election when the polls are tighter than the rusted lugnuts on a '55 Ford and whether we vote will decide the balance of power and the outcome of numerous issues far beyond those I have mentioned here.
To those of you who are honestly and truly independent, swing voters, I offer you much the same as to why I hope you will stick with the tried and tested leadership of the last few years. Everyone encounters their stumbling blocks when in power. The Democrats have their scoundrels and we have ours; we try to dispose of ours more so than they do theirs. However, the leadership of President Bush and Congressional Republicans has produced a safer, more prosperous America that, despite all the naysaying of the doom-and-gloom crowd, offers more opportunities to more people than any country at any time in the history of our world. While I believe nothing in our history has been inevitable, I believe that the right decisions will mean that, as Ronald Reagan said in his final public message in 1994, America's best days are ahead. That hangs in the balance tomorrow.
A lot rides on the outcome of the election tomorrow. Vote, vote early, only vote once, but vote Republican and let's keep moving forward toward that safer, more prosperous, more hopeful America that lies ahead.