Political gridlock: a smart Republican’s best choice

Many Republicans recently celebrated the news that the federal government will hit $422 billion in debt this year — enough money to provide all Iowa State University students with tuition, food and housing for the next 1,500 years. When asking Republicans what reason they give fiscal conservatives for why a Bush vote in November is necessary, they say, “He’s not as bad as Kerry!”

Republicans are just as scared of Kerry as Democrats are of Bush. They say Kerry will spend us into bankruptcy, somehow unlike what Bush is doing. Republicans need to look at the big picture of government expansion.

With a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democrat in the White House, gridlock will provide Republicans with what they proudly claim to cherish: small government. Our poisonous political climate will continue after November, and with that, a Kerry victory would guarantee non-cooperation on fiscal expansion between the divided executive and legislative branches.

This political configuration would assure that entitlement growth would slow to a stop. The Medicare prescription drug entitlement of 2003, for example, would not have been passed under gridlock. It did, however, pass the House on a near party-line vote of 220 to 215. Republicans favored it and Democrats opposed it.

After the Senate voted similarly, Bush signed the new entitlement into law and took the credit. And Republicans are scared of Kerry? A Republican-controlled Congress will in no way allow Kerry to sign major expansion bills into law, thereby allowing a Massachusetts “elitist” to take the credit.

Bush has warned that Kerry will create a national health care system if given the chance. How? It didn’t work for Clinton back in 1993, even when Democrats actually controlled the Senate 57-43 and the House 258-175. Why are Republicans so scared?

Principled Republicans must admit that the threat to their “small government” philosophy comes not from John Kerry but from their own party leader: Bush.

If the Kerry-Edwards ticket wins in November, Democrats will have to fight like hell just to maintain their minority position in the Senate. Kerry and Edwards would obviously leave the Senate and could even take others with them, further strengthening Republican congressional control.

Worse for Democrats, the National Republican Senatorial Committee recently championed poll results showing Sen. Tom Daschle of South Dakota trailing his Republican challenger, John Thune, 50 percent to 48 percent.

Daschle’s numbers keep dropping, and the former Senate majority leader very may well be out of a job this November. Barack Obama may have Illinois sealed, but Democrats can only hope to maintain the minority position at its current level.

Given a Republican Senate and an impenetrable Republican House, true Republicans must admit that gridlock would achieve more for small government folks than a Bush White House. Will Republicans choose their party or their principles?

Face it Republicans, Bush is only sweet-talking you. He’s had four years and a Republican Congress to cut entitlements and federal spending, but he has used that historic chance to do the exact opposite.

Admit it: If citizens vote Bush back into office, he’ll continue giving small government people (does that group still include Republicans?) the middle finger. Any rhetoric at this point is merely fluff, discredited by four years of cold, hard facts.

The second presidential term is not about delivering the small government and “fiscal responsibility” that was promised and burned in the first. Bush might as well tell Republicans “I swear I’ll never hit you again. You know I’d never hurt you!”

Republicans, run while you still can. Vote for John Kerry and vote for gridlock.

That is the smallest government you can hope to see from the November election.

Nicolai Brown, Iowa State Daily Iowa State University