City of Roses
|On the contrary, I believe it's the intense partisanship of this administration that have, in result, brought him to these levels of disapprovement.
There is what I like to refer to as an "invisible schism" that's running through the GOP right now, between traditional conservatives that look to Barry Goldwater and earlier national figures that embrace small government, sate rights and other such true conservative milestones, and pro-business conservatives who align themselves with corporate interests who depend on them to build America's economy and such.
Former Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson, who was very critical of the intelligence community which compiled the Iraq war intelligence, who has been a registered Republican for most of his life, I feel is representative of the effects of this "invisible schism", who feels the GOP has indeed moved away from its roots and doesn't represent his or the values of many older-school and moderate conservatives today:
"Question: Now, you were, I believe, a Republican for many years, you worked with the Republican administration and the Republican secretary of state. Do you think the Republicans and the Republican President will end up paying the price, the political price, for this war?
Wilkerson: Yes and I'm very concerned about that as a citizen. My mum wrote me a letter the other day and she said, "Son," -- she's 86 years old -- she said, "Son, please don't become a Democrat".
And I told my mum, I called her and I said: "Mum, you know what? I want my party back. I don't want to become a Democrat. I want my party back."
The Republican Party that I knew, that I grew up in, a moderate party, a party that believed in fiscal discipline, a party that believed in small government, a party that had genuine conservative values. This is not a conservative leadership. This is radical leadership. I called them neo-Jacobins. They are radical. They're not conservative. They've stolen my party and I would like my party back."
Take the traditional Republican achievement of environmental conservation and preservation, for example. Christine Todd Whitman is a Republican who understands wholeheartedly, as I do, that the environmental movement was a Republican movement. Theodore Roosevelt started the national parks system, and Richard Nixon founded the Environmental Protection Agency (which Whitman was administrator of at one point).
She ahs written a book titled "It's My Party Too: Taking Back The Republican Party.........And Bringing The Country Together Again", where she understandably feels that, on the environment for example, that as of late the current GOP has actually went against its own achievements, and our environment is more vulnerable than ever, with Republicans like Richard Pombo tearing away at our Endangered Species Act, many of the pro-environmental provisions enforced under Clinton reversed, and he EPA and FDA represented by corporate cronyism.
She also says this on Page 73 in her book:
"The defining feature of the conservative viewpoint is a faith in the ability, and a respect for the right, of individuals to make their own decisions - economic, social, and spiritual - about their lives. The true conservative understands that government's track record in respecting individual rights is poor when it dictates individual choices." (Whitman 73)
THIS is why Bush's approval ratings have sunk to this low, and why the Republican Congress has approval ratings even lower than that. (23%) It's because the GOP under administrations such as this have turned their backs on moderate and more traditional Republicans like them.
Conservatives widely value states rights over federal intervention. I think when many conservatives look at the Terri Schiavo intervention, the No Child Left Behind Act swamping down the ideas of the states to improve their own public education systems (Utah, one of only four states with a net approval of Bush currently, is leading the battle to drop out of NCLB altogether) and proposals for constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage and such, it's this sort of political approach that runs against these conservative notions and leave many feeling alienated from their party.
Many conservatives value small government and fiscal limitation and responsibility. When many conservatives look and see how this administration inherited one of our nation's strongest surpluses, and turned it into the nation's worst deficit, when they see how this administration spends about as much as many Democratic administrations do, when they see how they spend billions for interventionist war and tax cuts for the very rich while chopping away at Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, veteran's services and unemployment insurance, it's this sort of fiscal irresponsibility and weakening of the American family that leaves many conservatives isolated from their party.
Many conservatives are isolationist and reject foreign intervention policies like this Iraq war. Conservatives including Charley Reese, Paul Craig Roberts and James Webb, were opposed to this war from the beginning like myself and don't believe in aggressive world government, and as much as many conservatives have an anti-United Nations bias (they're not perfect, but I give them credit for many great things including feeding 104 million people a year in 80 countries, UNICEF's efforts to crack down on AIDS and immunization of children worldwide, eradicating almost completely smallpox and polio from the world, holding over a dozen peacekeeping operations that, without their activity, could allow armed rebels and marauders to take control again, helping form elections in East Timor, Iraq and other countries, bringing issues that are otherwise seemingly non-existent in the media to the public forefront including landmines, child soldiers and cholera, etc.) they also understand that many nations violate U.N resolutions like Iraq did yet we don't just go to war with them, and also, like me, are against any sort of pre-emptive war, period. It's this sort of reckless, senseless "long war" policy that has left many conservatives feeling isolated from their own party.
I'm not convinced there's much Bush can do to turn his approval ratings around, because two adjectives most Americans now label him as are "incompetent" and "stubborn". Bush is someone who likes having his boots bolted to the ground, he's someone you're just not going to budge or reach, and he's going to continue to fight the same old-fashioned way.
All I can say is, just after 9/11, when Bush showed brief admirable leadership in what appeared as though he has most interested in uniting Americans and getting right to the very source of the threat by overthrowing the Taliban and bin laden, his approval ratings were as high as 90%, ratings any president would dream their entire lives and beyond in having. He had the greatest opportunity to become one of the greatest presidents by continuing to govern by his campaign promise, of being a "uniter, not a divider.", by not falling to the "Either you're with us or against us!" partisan rhetoric.
Sadly, he chose months after the 9/11 attacks to play partisan politics rather than diplomatic politics, who has been doing just that ever since. And THAT is exactly why his approval ratings have literally been sliced by 2/3 their original glory.
He had an unprecedented opportunity, and he has blown it big time. I do believe there is little Bush can do to bounce back, and if I were the Republicans who are running for re-election this November in the mid-term elections, I would distance myself from the president and run campaigns independently. Perhaps, if the Republicans up for re-election run in the spirit of the Whitmans and the Goldwaters and the Wilkersons, they can hold the trifecta. But I feel it will rather just be another nasty electio season, with partisan mud-slinging and character assassination from both sides.
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other"