Common wisdom is that presidential re-election campaigns are all about the incumbent. If the incumbent is doing good enough, he wins. If he isn't doing well and the challenger seems good enough, the challenger wins. It's not an unreasonable way to vote. The incumbent has had four years to prove himself. If he has failed it's time to try someone new.
Bush has done a poor job over the last four years. Kerry may not be my dream candidate, but he is a solid replacement option. It's time to fire Bush for a job badly done and hire the replacement.
What bothers me about Bush?
(All links are just to supporting articles; unless you're really bored I'd suggest skipping them.)
Bush doesn't show up to work. Bush has been on vacation about 40% of his presidency. Bush took more vacation in his first three years than Clinton did in eight. Washington D.C. is the center of our nation's government. We pay to maintain a home and office for the president. He should show up to work at his office.
The Bush administration is secretive. For our democracy to function our government must be open and accountable. The Bush Administration has been working to seal records and otherwise make government less transparent. (Original New York Times article) President Bush avoids press conferences. To hear Bush or Cheney speak publicly, you need to sign a pledge to vote for him.
Invading Iraq took money from real security work. Invading and occupying Iraq has cost over $100 billion dollars and will cost billions more. Iraq did not present a real risk to the United States. That money could have been invested in improving out international intelligence work to find terrorists and other real risks.
Bush had no plan to win the peace in Iraq. The Bush administration's failure to plan is costing us lives and money now. Iraq is now a hotbed of terror, rebuilding is going to take a long time.
Bush isn't concerned about Osama bin Laden. When asked about the man Bush once described as "wanted: dead or alive", Bush said "I truly am not that concerned about him [Osama bin Laden." Clearly he isn't, the Bush administration let Osama bin Laden get away, in part because the job was outsourced to local warlords. We're ignoring real threats, the enemies who attacked up on 9/11. Instead we now have to also focus on Iraq, a country that wasn't a real threat.
Bush abandoned Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a mess. Warlords continue to fight each other. The Taliban continues to stage terrorist attacks. Attacks kept President Karzai from doing any significant campaigning outside of Kabul. This is the sort of chaotic situation that led to the rise of the Taliban in the first place. Again, Iraq distracts us from real work we need to be doing.
Stop loss orders are making our military weaker. Thousands of soldiers are being forced to continue serving beyond their original enlistment. The National Guard is missing recruitment goals for the first time in ten years. Rash use of our military is discouraging recruits from joining and experienced soldiers from re-enlisting.
Alienating the world make us less safe. Terrorism is an international problem; we're going to need to work with many other countries to fight it. We've snubbed other countries' concerns; they will be less willing to support us in the future. We've present faulty information as facts; other countries will be less trusting of us. Bush's "go it alone" attitude ignores this and puts us at greater risk.
Bush is reducing taxes on the rich while driving the nation into debt.
Eliminating taxes on dividends was crazy. I pay income taxes on all of my income, be it salary, lottery winnings, large gifts, or whatever. Excluding dividends didn't make any sense and primarily rewards the wealthy.
Eliminating estate taxes is similarly insane. Again, income is taxed. Why is a large gift in the form of an estate not income? While there are some very rare cases where family farms or businesses are hurt by an estate tax the reality is that the majority of people who pay the estate tax are the wealthy. It was possible to protect small businesses and farms without providing the privileged with yet another privilege.
The general income tax reductions were a further mistake. Again the wealthiest Americans received the largest benefit. Unfortunately the wealthiest Americans are the ones least likely to spend any more money. The resulting benefit to the economy was marginal compared to the damage caused by our massive deficit. I didn't need a $300 tax cut, but our country needed a rational budget.
Bush try to stifle free speech. Bush and his administration have repeatedly stated that it's inappropriate to criticize his administration's decisions on Iraq; that it demoralizes the troops. By this same logic it would have been inappropriate to speak out against Vietnam. Iraq was a mistake; keeping silent on the issue isn't the answer.
Bush divided America. Bush promised to be a uniter, not a divider. If this is the united America, I'd hate to see a divided one.
Bush has failed at his job. It's time to fire Bush and replace him. Kerry is the only real candidate for the job. Kerry may not be the perfect applicant, but he's plenty qualified for the job.