Ilana Mercer, April 30, 2004

The ostensible choice before the American people Nov. 2 is between Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber – between Kerry and Bush or Bush and Kerry, according to taste.

As $40 million in Bush TV ads never cease to remind us, this president is a “war president.” That is, he has squandered the lives of hundreds of American men (and a few women), thousands of civilians and $166 billion (and counting – fast) in taxpayer’s money in an attempt to force the Iraqi horse to drink from the water of “democracy.”

Not that Sen. John Kerry is a man of peace. As H.L. Mencken warned darkly, “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.” Or of stolen lives. Kerry may be more inclined to defer to the United Nations for a license to conquer and kill, but he is as bright eyed and bushy tailed as Bush regarding a “bold progressive internationalism.”

Neither Bush nor Kerry is an American Firster. All their promises of improving the lot of the “Iraqi people” suggest they should move their campaign headquarters to Baghdad.

Both the incumbent and his Democratic challenger are welfare wastrels. The costs to a debt-laden United States of Republican “conservative” compassion vs. Democratic “do-goodism” amount to much the same. Economic prosperity (read jobs) will elude the United States until the government drastically downsizes its own ranks and curbs its reach.

This is exactly what Aaron Russo – who will be the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate – plans to do. Russo likens our ever-accreting government to “The Blob,” the Steve McQueen film in which “an alien life form consumes everything in its path as it grows and grows.” This statist feeding frenzy has turned the once-sovereign American citizen into a subservient subject of the state, a “perversion” Russo pledges to terminate.

The slave-state may be nearer at hand than the skeptic imagines. Both parties – Democrats more energetically than Republicans – are dropping ominous hints about reinstituting the draft. Russo, like the Lockean founding fathers, believes every American owns his life. This is a belief irreconcilable with conscription. “Americans have always responded in their country’s time of need,” Russo notes. However, “If this war was justifiable, the recruiting officers would have lines around the block.” Yet they do not, so the government wants the power to take our sons and daughters – often against their will – and make them pay, possibly with their lives, for an “immoral, unwinnable war,” Russo remonstrates.

Over and above their shared devotion to big government, Bush and Kerry both support illegal immigration, gun control, NAFTA and GATT, foreign aid and the PATRIOT Act. The terrible twins’ policy convergence is a wrecking ball aimed squarely at the already faltering American economy.

When combined with tax cuts, Bush’s stupendous spending will culminate in ever-growing deficits, inflation and unemployment, cautions Russo. In conjunction with tax increases, Kerry’s high-roller habits will culminate in poverty, lower incomes and unemployment. In contrast, Russo promises to unfetter the market. Once elected, Russo (in addition to taking control of America’s borders) will replace the income tax with a small sales tax. Once The Blob’s blood supply has been choked off, we can all say hello to prosperity.

And to peace. Liberals and conservatives who reject unprovoked wars of aggression have no horse to back in Bush vs. Kerry. Russo will bring our troops home. Unlike the front-runners, he knows that an “empire of freedom” is a contradiction in terms. Clearly, his truly patriotic platform has the potential to draw votes from both the Right and the Left.

Speaking of patriotism, Russo’s definition of an American patriot is someone who “stands up for the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Because Mr. Bush has checked the founding documents at the White House door, government policemen can, if they wish, lock you up without trial, spy on you, monitor the books you borrow from the library, or the sites you frequent on the Internet. Russo knows that the urgency of repealing the un-PATRIOT[ic] Act cannot be overstated.

A curious BBC reporter (intellectual curiosity is considered an occupational hazard by Fox News bubbleheads) was informed by the dynamic Russo that American republicanism (not to be confused with Republicanism) was established to preserve individual liberty. America was not conceived as a democracy – majority rule was never the intent here, Russo explained. In a democracy, majorities get to decide what is up for grabs. In a republic, where the central government has limited and clearly enumerated functions, majorities merely determine who is to be elected. In place of the unbounded, limitless leviathan, Russo desires the restoration of our lost constitutional republic.

Russo practically beams when he speaks of the liberty that is the American birthright. What a refreshing change he is from the default choices: the shifty-eyed Ewok and the Wizard of Oz Scarecrow.

All kidding aside, there is something to be said about having a self-made man in the White House. In Aaron Russo, we have someone who is not a political neophyte (he finished close in the Nevada Republican gubernatorial primary in 1998) and is an award-winning entertainment entrepreneur (he has managed Manhattan Transfer and Bette Midler and produced the classic comedy “Trading Places.”) Aaron Russo is a man who made his fortune not through well-connected friends or a felicitous marriage, but through productive and voluntary exchanges on the free market.

April 23

CATEGORIES: Anti-War, Bush, Constitution, Democracy, Democrats, Federalism, Founding Fathers, Libertarianism, Republicans