The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.


                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Elections, Reflections
and Misconceptions

by JC Bowman

The problem of writing a monthly column is the shelf life of the information in an article and the relevancy to the reader. Chances are by the time you will have read this either President George W. Bush or Senator John Kerry will have been the recipient of your vote and will be preparing to lead the United States for the next four years. 

Politically, America is bitterly divided.  If you live in Cleveland there is a 68% chance that vote will be Republican.  Here in the state capitol of Florida, Tallahassee we don't enjoy that luxury.  So it appears to be another hotly contested election here in the "sunshine state."  Maybe the only state with more focus will be Ohio.

Never one to miss the action I have signed up as a volunteer to be a "poll watcher" in this year's election.  One of the least appreciated, least recognized heroes of democracy are the thousands of volunteers who help the election efforts in communities across America every time we cast our ballots. They understand that voting is not so much about the candidates as it is about participation in the process.  I hope every citizen exercises their right to vote.  In the words of Rob "Ranger" Johnson "freedom ain't cheap."           

Let's take a snapshot view of the last four years. 

President George W. Bush was inaugurated as President of the United States on January 20, 2001.  He inherited a declining economy from outgoing President Bill Clinton.  Bush kept his pledge to cut taxes, which also served to stimulate the economy.  There is no doubt we are now moving forward.  In 2004, the economy grew 4.8%, as fast as any year in nearly two decades.  Both John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan understood this when they cut taxes as president.  I have always thought that those who felt that taxes were too low, should volunteer to pay more.  I have never seen anybody willingly pay more taxes.       

President Bush proposed and moved forward with an ambitious plan to reform K-12 education at the national level.  Sure there are critics of the No Child Left Behind Act, and the debate can be raised from the left whether there is enough money being spent or from the right who question the strength of the law that failing schools do not face corrective actions sooner.

J C Bowman

-J. C. Bowman, a native of Cleveland, is a well informed and outspoken conservative educator.  He is Director for the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University. Prior to this, he served as the Director for the Florida Department of Education Choice Office and as the Chief Policy Analyst of the Education Policy Unit for Florida Governor Jeb Bush.


But the bill had broad-based, bi-partisan support- and at that time there was Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle.  Legislation, like sausage being made is not a pretty sight.  But by January 2002 he had many of the key principles in place.  The federal role in education can be debated, but make no mistake, if the federal government is involved taxpayers want accountability for those dollars.   

The president has made some progress in health care- but that is an issue that both parties have dangled before the voters for too long. Prescription medicine has been addressed to an extent, but the price tag is going to be more expensive than estimated.  A safety concern aside, drug importation is going to happen so we might as well accept that fact.  Americans are paying for the discovery of lifesaving drugs and the rest of the world is receiving the discount.  We need to make sure health care is affordable for everybody, we need to also limit medical liability and we need to encourage small businesses provide health care to their workers by proving them with better access and incentives. We do need more preventive health care, but we do not need a Nationalized Health Program.   

However, it was the events that occurred on September 11, 2001 that has shaped President Bush's term in office.  It is homeland security, national defense and a war on terrorism that has defined this century so far.  Our nation was attacked on September 11, 2001 and our world has changed. 

Muslim terrorists called al-Qaeda, with training camps all around the world were responsible.  This is an enemy unlike any we have ever faced.  There are multiple countries, multiple fronts and multiple threats.  This enemy is committed to the absolute destruction of the American way of life and imposing their beliefs and values upon the world.  They want you dead.  We have a choice, attack them there or face them here.  President Bush's position is not popular world wide.  In the coming months as the food-for-oil scandal begins to be revealed we may discover exactly how rigged the game really was by some of our former allies.     

Unfortunately, the war in Iraq has become bitter.  But we must stay the course, as long as democracy has a chance to flourish there. Larry Elder has astutely pointed out that "Arab countries scored the lowest of all world regions as to freedom, the political process, civil liberties, political rights and media independence." America is the bastion of hope and freedom to the world.   

The argument that there were no weapons of mass destruction discovered does not mean Iraq was less of a threat.  With the release of the Duelfer report and the new book The Bomb in My Garden by Iraq's quest for weapons of mass destruction by Dr. Mahdi Obeidi even liberal pundit Christopher Hitchens opines that "the Saddam regime was more disarmed than perhaps even its leadership knew." However, he also adds "that it would have been very unwise to proceed on any assumption except that of its latent danger."

We know that Saddam Hussein unleashed his wrath against his own people. Victimized by repeated bombings Iraqi Kurds were also subjected to extensive use of chemical weapons.  Chemical or biological weapons in the hands of terrorists in America would be devastating. If John Kerry had been POTUS (President of the United States) Saddam would have still been in power.   

In my mind the key question in the 2004 election, do we want the United States to be sovereign or should we have to pass some type of global test? And who do you trust to put America first?

John Kerry has accused President Bush of allowing Osama bin Laden to escape by relying on Afghan warlords to try to hunt the al-Qaeda chief down in the caves of Tora Bora in December 2001. These are the same mountains that have bogged down armies for centuries. However, Kerry would outsource the job of national security to the United Nations. 

This presidential election has also been one of the nastiest political races in American history.  The advent of political 527's has only served to further to divide the country.  In the post 9/11 world national defense matters more than ever and will dominate future election cycles. Politicians will continue "gaming the system" for every angle within the confines of the law. 

It is misconception to believe that our political leaders would ever willingly relinquish personal power without a bloody fight.  Let's hope America never loses its identity.  I optimistically anticipate the election turned out the way you wanted, but more importantly what is in the best interest of our citizens.  I hope and that your family is safe, and that the terrorists are either on the run or on their way to a punishing afterlife.
--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Tallahassee, Florida. He can be reached by email at: