Most people who read this site are aware that I tend toward the conservative side of the political spectrum. I voted for President Bush in 2000 (my first election) and, in fact, have voted Republican for most offices in most elections since. But, despite my admitted predispositions, I go into every election with an open mind. I consider the candidates who are in the running—their record, their stances on various important issues, the nature of their campaigning and rhetoric, their character, etc.—and make a decision.

In this election cycle, I was not in President George W. Bush‘s pocket. While I support the war in Iraq (read why and why again) and this administration’s generally-sound economic policies, I am dissatisfied with the sheer unmitigated size of the federal deficit and the negative direction the Bush reelection campaign took out of the starting gate. Senator John Kerry (D-MA) could have won my vote if he had stayed away from the Howard Dean-style slash-and-burn hyper-liberalism and remained consistent, principled, and fair.

When the Democratic Party picked Kerry as their nominee for the 2004 election, I was initially happy with their decision (although I preferred Senator John Edwards [D-NC] out of the plethora of choices). Kerry seemed to be somebody I could like, and I anticipated a great contest between him and President Bush. I was expecting to have to think long and hard about which man would make a better president, but John Kerry made it easy for me by continually pursuing political expediency over honest values and principles.

Therefore, I firmly endorse the reelection of President George W. Bush.

Once upon a time, there was a John Kerry that I might have voted for. He was a rational man with deeply-held beliefs who aimed to do what was right, whether it was the Democratic party-line or not. A perfect example: When President Clinton engaged our military in hostile action against Iraq in 1998 (Operation Desert Fox), Kerry said we needed to do more to stop Saddam Hussein—a full scale war, if necessary. When that war looked like it was going to become a reality toward the end of 2002, Kerry continued to voice his support for it, going as far as to vote “Yea” in the Senate on Joint Resolution 114: “Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq.”

But when the war got tough (and the election got closer), Kerry became the anti-war candidate. He expected us to forget both how avidly he had supported the use of military force against Hussein for more than a decade, and how evil Hussein really was. Well, John, the nineties aren’t going to just disappear.

The fact is that John Kerry believed, as most people in the free world believed, that Saddam Hussein was a threat to us and to the world. Now, Kerry advocates the opposite view merely because the Democratic base has gotten so irrationally enflamed against the war (and President Bush in general). I, for one, don’t think a man who bases his opinions on fleeting, transient political winds should decide when and why this nation sends its soldiers into combat. I would much prefer somebody who bases their policies on an honest examination of what is best for this country, even if I disagree from time-to-time with their conclusions.

Aside from suddenly becoming Mr. Anti-War, Kerry has focused his campaign on the economy. The Democratic rhetoric on this issue could hardly be more ludicrous; it blames President Bush for a sluggish economy over which he (or any president) has relatively little control. If we are going to play the Presidential Blame Game™, we should at least be aware that the dot-com recession started before Bush took office. But, that said, there’s really nothing to blame anybody for now anyway! The economy is growing, the unemployment rate is trending lower, and inflation is well under control. Sure, things aren’t getting better at a stupendous rate, but it hardly seems logical to badmouth the sitting president over a generally-improving economic situation.

The fact that the economy is improving at all is something of a miracle when you consider what this country has been through in the last four years. The dot-com-bust and Enron-style corporate implosions caused a lot of trouble for a lot of investors, but we got through it pretty much just fine. Terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and killed 3,000 innocent people, shutting down our air travel and financial systems, and yet our nation picked up the pieces and got back to work. We’ve had to drastically increase homeland security expenditures, selfish OPEC nations have gouged us on oil prices, and we’ve fought two difficult wars (winning them both); despite all of that, things are still getting better. John Kerry has no compelling explanation of how or why the economy would be any better if he were president.

On to education: President Bush has worked to improve the quality of education in the United States since the day he took office. The long-overdue “No Child Left Behind” act—which Kerry voted for, by the way—set a high standard for America’s schools early in this administration. Bush has been criticized for not adequately funding the landmark education act, but the spending goals for the law were set before the war on terror—and all the unexpected expenses and changes of priority that went with it. In addition to his work to improve public schools, Bush has long supported school voucher programs which would give students at certain failing schools a chance to get ahead that they might otherwise never have—programs which Kerry and the Democrats vehemently oppose. John Kerry has not sufficiently explained how he would improve education in this country except to say that he would adequately fund the “No Child Left Behind” act. He has not told us where he will find the money to do even that.

In his first term, Bush has worked to protect us from threats against our way of life—whether in shadowy organizations like Al Qaeda or in governments like those of Saddam’s Iraq or Kadafi’s Libya. He has provided seniors with a prescription drug benefit, he has improved education, he has signed campaign finance reform legislation into law, and much more. Bush’s stated goals for a new term include reforming the overly-complex and patently-unfair U.S. tax code, working to make sure that all Americans have health insurance, controlling the cost of health care by limiting frivolous malpractice lawsuits, protecting social security by allowing people to put some of that money into retirement funds that only they can touch, increasing funding for job training, and—most importantly—continuing to protect the United States from all threats against our national security (no matter what France and Germany have to say about it).

These policies are good for America. They balance efforts to right social wrongs—poverty, poor ecucation, the high cost of health care, etc.—against the traditional conservative values of putting America first, treating people justly, protecting our homeland, and working to make the world safer and more free.

As I have said, I do not agree with President Bush and the Republicans on every issue. The FCC crackdowns on “inappropriate” television and radio programs smack of censorship, the federal deficit is unacceptably large, and efforts to strengthen the Patriot Act may take things too far (although I support the act as-is). Bush’s harsh stances on certain social issues like gay marriage do not lend themselves to bipartisanship and compromise (which should be the hallmark of a representative government). If elected to a second term, Bush should work to fix these things.

But our president has, on the whole, been a good president. He has led us through difficult times, defended our national security, and has pursued business-friendly policies and a tax cut agenda that did, indeed, help to keep our economy moving. He stands by his values and his honestly-formed opinions about what is best for the United States, even if it looks like it might hurt him in an election or diminish his standing in the vacuous halls of the United Nations.

I don’t want a president who continually tries to talk-down an improving economy in an effort to drum up support for a campaign. I don’t want a president who criticizes others’ military records and refuses to allow criticism of his own. I don’t want a president who is hawkish on a war in 2002 and dovish on that same war in 2003. Even if I agreed with every last word that came out of John Kerry’s mouth in this campaign, he would not get my vote. I would much rather have a president who makes decisions for the right reasons and consistently stands by them. I would much rather have a president with integrity.

President Bush has proven that he is worthy of our nation’s highest office. The United States is safer, stronger, and better today than it was four years ago, and I have no doubt that the president is partly responsible for that. He has done a good job in overwhelmingly difficult circumstances, and I encourage the voters to let him keep on doing it for another four years.