Americans are not better off under Bush

September 23, 2004

Dear Editor:

This election is about whether the country is better off than it was four years ago. And it is about whether the policies and plans and proposals being advocated by the candidates will be likely to make the country better off in the coming four years.

Are we safer than we were four years ago? Whether or not you believe this president and his administration were asleep at the wheel prior to 9/11, the president is trying to make the case that his policies since then have made the country safer from terrorists. I think this position is clearly false. Our invasion of Afghanistan has routed the Taliban but left the country without a center and fractured into many small fiefdoms. Taliban loyalists, not to mention Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, continue to roam free. Our invasion of Iraq has taken a stable, secular, and terrorist-resistant country and created a magnet for radical Islamic terror from all over the region. Our troops in Iraq are under fire and mired in a civilian, urban guerrilla conflict. And more than 1,000 of us and 20,000 Iraqis have died in creating this quagmire.


Our blind support for Ariel Sharon instead of the even-handed policy of the past with the Israelis and the Palestinians, created much of the antagonism that fuels Islamic terror throughout the world. Those moderate elements in the Arab world that might have been inclined to support us cannot do so for fear of the reaction of their own people. I think we have become less safe and will continue to be less safe as we pursue unilateral and military solutions while ignoring diplomatic and humanitarian ones. Terrorism is a symptom of a disease, and while we must treat it with all our might and will, we must also examine the underlying causes of the disease and treat those as well.

Are we better off economically than we were four years ago? Whether or not you have a few hundred dollars a year more in your pocket from the tax cuts in the last few years, this administration has taken a federal budget surplus and turned it into the largest budget deficit in history.

Are we more free than we were four years ago? Whether or not you believe in the need to restrict our freedom to protect our safety or whether government should dictate our morality, this administration has chosen to pursue a narrow and conservative agenda in all sorts of ways, far from its campaign slogans of compassion. The Patriot Act, passed in haste under dire circumstances, is being rethought by most politicians as all the implications become clear. When we are able to detain our own citizens without cause, we have given up too much. When demagogues propose to "defend" marriage, which is not under attack, by restricting the lives and options of others, we have given up too much.

I do not believe that "staying the course" this November will make us safer, or better off, or freer in the coming four years. I will choose change for those reasons.

Dan Nolet


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