The race is on, and while the Iowans meet in their caucuses and primary voters in New Hampshire gear up for their segment of the Big Event, it occurs to me that maybe it's time I decided what it is I want in a Presidential candidate. The Constitutional requirements are fairly broad, so I will look for issues — and the answers I'd like to see.

Foreign policy: It would be nice if we actually had one. For all the silliness of the Reagan years, at least they had something resembling a goal: contain those Reds. Now, of course, the Reds are gone, except for China and Cuba, and whatever policy we have toward them comes from third parties — China, the global-trade crowd; Cuba, a gaggle of wrathful exiles. The level of stability in the world isn't exactly rising these days, so it behooves us to keep the military up to snuff, and maybe a couple of ticks beyond.

Taxes: The current tax code is incomprehensible and indefensible. And it may be past the point of overhaul, in which case the only alternative is to start over. Both the income and payroll taxes should be flattened — at both ends.

Trade: Protectionism seems to be on the rise again, and it doesn't work any better now than it did when pirates struck from the Barbary Coast. The fewer barriers, the better. Does free trade create sweatshops in the Third World? Probably. Would these poor folks be better off abandoned, left to till what's left of the soil? Try it yourself and let me know what you find out.

Abortion: The candidates seem to be avoiding this particular swamp. Let us hope that they continue to do so.

Campaign-finance reform: If I live to be 100, I still won't see it.

Environment: No wise creature craps in its own nest. That said, it must also be said that a great many of the solutions proffered these days are pretty crappy themselves. For instance, you can force Detroit to manufacture Incredibly Low-Emission Vehicles, but a whole fleet full of them would be offset by a single '74 Impala with a stuck PCV valve.

Education: Which is worse, a school accountable only to bureaucrats and the teachers' union, or a school accountable only to somebody's fantasies about God?

Term limits: For many of these guys, one term is way too much.

And so it goes. Fortunately, I don't expect much, so my level of disappointment won't be all that far off the scale.

The Vent

#181
18 January 2000

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