What Makes a Bush Supporter?
As a former Bush supporter I can offer a first-person perspective. Although I didn’t realize it while actively supporting the President and the War on Terror, there were several underlying themes going through my mind that I am now able to differentiate.
The Greater Good
I honestly thought that Operation Iraqi Freedom was a moral and just war for us to fight. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator and war criminal who I detest to this day. As the resulting sectarian violence stirred and the civilian casualties mounted above pre-liberation levels, I closed my eyes in horror, thinking that in the end a free and democratic Iraq in the Middle East would not only be a beacon of liberty for years to come but would have made sure that these people did not die in vain.
The Republican Party used to stand for the supreme worth of the individual. I now realize that it is wrong to sacrifice people for the sake of the majority, no matter the captivating cause or idealistic vision.
The Government Is Here to Help
On September 11th, 2001, I was 11 years old. I came home from elementary school. There had been rumors in school that aliens landed. My teacher had been crying in the hallway. I was scared. I learned what happened from my mom when she took me inside. After a rough and unforgettable day, I was addressed by President Bush that night. I felt helpless in the face of these terrorists who wanted nothing more than to kill my family and me for being American and free. He said he would protect us. I felt safe. Over the following years, I came to understand that we could not surrender in this struggle to preserve our freedom and our way of life. This struggle came to be named “The War on Terror.”
I did not follow the President’s advice. I did surrender. I surrendered my liberties and altered my way of life. I increasingly thought it was okay to sacrifice liberty in exchange for security, whatever it took to feel safer as a child growing up in a frightening and murderous world.
The Republican Creed itself proclaims, “If I can seek opportunity, not security” and “I prefer the challenges of life to guaranteed security.” Even so, it is nearly 2008 and the unthinkable is happening; Republican Presidential candidate Fred Thompson’s three-word campaign mantra includes the word “Security,” yet he is placing second in the polls among Republican voters! Even Benjamin Franklin himself once said, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” According to the Constitution, we gain security only when we “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. According to the Declaration of Independence, “that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Security is only possible through securing our natural rights. By this standard, the picture looks bleak.
Traditional conservatives used to say that whenever you go to the guns of government, you sacrifice personal liberty. The traditional conservative’s warning was akin to a movie where the character encounters the devil. The character ends up sacrificing his soul in exchange for false promises based on misleading premises. The problems the devil claimed to be able to fix had often been caused by him in the first place!
Patriotism Means Allegiance
Although I never did support the Patriot Act, I still stood strongly behind the President and the Republican Party. I felt patriotic paying lip to the government and our nation, even when I found myself disagreeing at times. When others denounced its policies regarding the War on Terror, I thought they were of the blame-America variety. I wondered why they didn’t just leave the country if they disliked it so much.
I now realize that dissent from government is more closely related to patriotism. The difference between a loyalist and a patriot back in the American Revolution was that one didn’t mind or was unaffected by the government’s oppression, and that the other one minded a whole lot, whether or not it was actually him or some other Colonist that was being pushed around by their government. To this effect, I had never been a patriot. I had been a 21st century loyalist.
By believing in a “greater good,” by embracing the power of the state, and by assuming that patriotism meant resolutely backing my leaders, even when pitted against my fellow citizens, I was actually adopting the same characteristics that had defined communism and other totalitarian movements before me.
With every passing day since my day of awakening, I feel that I am becoming more Republican and more conservative than I have ever been.
Big government Republicans and Democrats, who are more likely to win their respective Party’s Presidential nominations in 2008, are quickly sliding our country into a one-party totalitarian state.
I am no longer a child. I will no longer cower in the face of terrorists and an overbearing, largely unconstitutional government. I have faith in myself. For the first time in my life I understand the mechanics of freedom and the importance of the Constitution. This was not something that I was taught in school or at home, but something that I had to learn for myself. In 2008, I will be voting for Ron Paul to be my President, whether by ballot or write-in.
After all, I am no sunshine patriot.