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Bush's fate depends on twin deficits

I thought I heard the Earth rumble. It must have been the political battle cry of the silent masses who embrace the Christian faith in towns and villages in prairies across the United States. Surrounded by their angry cries and cheers, President George W. Bush was re-elected.

The Bush Republican system has been established. Some people say it may mark the beginning of long Republican rule like the one that started in 1896 with Republican U.S. President William McKinley and continued for more than three decades until the emergence of the Democratic administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932.

However, considering the dynastic characteristic of the Bush administration, its imperialistic view on world order under a U.S. unilateral structure and the exuberance of Christian values and passion, it may be more apt to call the situation the emergence of a Bush world under a Republican government.

Since the election divided the nation in two, the White House is calling on the people to come together and heal the rift.

The gist of its message to the American people is: "We are determined to conductpolitics that reaches out to all people and not just Republicans. Let us join hands to make a better America starting with education reform."

During his first term in office, former President Ronald Reagan aggressively advanced a military buildup to counter the Soviet Union. In his second term, he switched to disarmament and laid the ground to end the Cold War. Some Republican moderates say Bush should follow his example.

However, few Democrats take such a view at face value. They cite the following reasons:

・Having won 59.6 million votes, the most in U.S. history, and 3.5 million more than his opponent, Bush won "legitimacy." In his second term, he is expected to push ahead with the logic that it is the duty of a leader to answer the majority.

・He successfully wooed right-wing religious organizations and won the election by appealing to them with Christian values. He is expected to use the same tactics to fight the midterm election two years from now.

・He feels obliged to answer his supporters, in particular right-wing religious groups, and is expected to appoint rightists to the Supreme Court bench to satisfy them.

President Bush has the power to advance nonpartisan politics and diplomacy if he really wants to. However, right-wing religious groups will stand in the way in internal affairs and neoconservatives in foreign policy.

Karl Marx positioned economy as the substructure and put politics and religion on top of it. But Bush's political structure has religion at the bottom and politics at the top.

Former Democratic Senator Gary Hart warns the danger of politics that places too much emphasis on religion and faith: "It should concern us that declarations of `faith' are quickly becoming a condition for seeking public office. There are two dangers here. One is the merging of church and state. The other is rank hypocrisy." (The New York Times, Nov. 8)

In addition, there is the danger of treating ideological faith in American-style democracy as a universal value. A typical example is the attempt to democratize the entire Middle East, including Iraq, led by neoconservatives.

John Hamre, president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, expressed concern over such radicalism of the Bush Republican system: "While the Democratic Party seeks to maintain the status quo, Bush's Republican Party is inclined toward radicalism to break it. This is also true in foreign policy. It has abandoned institutions that had been useful up to now to promote a coalition of the willing."

The attitude is apparent in the way it slighted the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in the post-9/11 war on terror and the Iraq war.

However, in the end, results are what count in politics. In particular, Iraqi reconstruction is a result on the ground not above it. If the Iraqi quagmire advances further, the Bush world will develop more cracks.

When that happens, the anxiety of Americans will grow stronger and they may try to seek support in religion for firmer values. I think the latest presidential election was a reflection of such dynamics.

The neoconservative camp will likely decline. Nevertheless, right-wing religious groups could form a stronger base for the Bush administration and advance U.S. introversion.

Furthermore, if budget and trade deficits continue to raise, it could rock the Bush world. The Richard Nixon administration had to pay for the Vietnam War with the dollar shock in 1971. The Reagan administration footed the bill for its arms race with the Soviet Union with the Plaza Accord in 1985. Eventually the Bush administration may be forced to take similar drastic steps.

Republican Senator Richard Lugar, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told me, "Neocons may be forced to give up its utopian and ideological foreign policy, because it costs too much. They are expensive people."

Even in the Bush Republican world, economy, not ideology or religion, forms the substructure rooted on the ground. If it fails to recognize this fact, it would face serious trouble.

(2004/11/16)








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