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A Republican Declares His Independence
By Robert L. Black
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Wednesday 13 October 2004

When in the course of a lifetime, it becomes necessary for a born Republican to refuse to support the re-election of the party's incumbent president, to exercise his discretion, and in all good conscience, to vote for an opponent (even a Democrat), a decent respect to the opinions of his fellows requires that he declare the causes that impel him to switch.

I am grateful to the Republican Party for the support it gave me on each of three elections as judge. I respect many of the party leaders in Ohio. Nevertheless, my loyalty to the party must give way to my love of this country. I consider it a patriotic duty to speak up when the future of our democracy is at stake.

It is self-evident that everyone has certain unalienable rights endowed by the Creator, and that among these are the right to his/her own conscience and the right to pursue his/her sense of justice. Whenever in the field of politics the party to which he has belonged, and that party's president, become destructive of his vision of what is not only right and fair but also good for our future, it is his duty to call the tune as he hears it. When that future is endangered by the present policies of the administration, it is time to act. The record of this incumbent president is a history not only of repeated violations of the key principles underlying our democracy, but of the core values of the Christian faith to which he claims commitment. Let his actions be stated candidly.

He has taken us into a pre-emptive war, misleading the country by alleging without qualification that there was an immediate threat to our safety. No weapons of mass destruction have been found despite the president's unconditional declarations that he had to pre-empt Saddam Hussein's use of weapons of mass destruction.

He engaged in this war without any workable plan to win the peace. While the ultimate outcome of this adventure is unknown, the loss of human life and the imposition of human suffering weigh heavily against us.

The effect of this adventure is to solidify the deadly opposition of radical Muslim extremists, who are currently leading of the Muslim world. He has exacerbated a dangerous confrontation, a conflict of religious dimensions.

The result of the arrogant way the war was handled is that the president has alienated our long-established allies: and it will take decades to re-establish friendly working relations with these other powers.

He acted unilaterally in pulling the nation from international treaties designed to move toward a more livable and a more just world, such as the Kyoto Treaty and the treaty creating the World Court of Law.

At the same time, he has cut the taxes owed by the richest 1 percent or 2 percent of the population, giving meaningless decreases for all the rest, and with no resulting benefit to the job market or the economy. He has presided over the largest loss of jobs since the Great Depression.

He has appointed or sought to appoint to the federal judiciary persons who hold extreme right-wing views, views that are driven by political bias and that ignore established legal precedent. (He threatens to appoint such a person to the Supreme Court.)

He has ignored or denied widely accepted scientific findings. For example, with respect to stem cell research, captured by a religious minority, he limited this research to a degree that radically restricts research leading to benefits for hundreds of thousands of persons subject to major disabilities and early death.

He has re-emphasized abortion as a political issue, when it is a purely personal decision for the woman.

He has allowed an increase in the number and type of media organizations any one company can acquire, thus permitting a further concentration of power over the news.

He has again and again reversed the regulations and policies designed to protect the environment, always adopting a policy that favors those manufacturers and industrialists whose actions have clearly fouled the air and water. He pushes for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and throughout northern Alaska. He is allowing the logging of our national parks. He ignores scientific findings that the world is being subjected to a warming climate change that is man-made and that could otherwise be forestalled or radically slowed down.

He has adopted or proposed regulations that endanger the safety of persons, when a Republican two-house legislature will not act in his favor. His regulations would prevent the release to the public of car safety information, such as warranty claims, consumer complaints and individual rights on safety issues; he would relax the rule on allowable coal dust in mines; he would eliminate the rule requiring employers to keep records of employees' ergonomics injuries; he has cut 77 personnel from the staff of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; he has raised the allowable mercury content in the air.

I am, as American citizens ought to be, free to express my deeply held convictions, derived from my conscience and sense of justice, and to vote for candidates who in my opinion will act in the best interests of the country. In this, as in other life actions, my prayer is I am in line with the will of God.


Robert L. Black is a retired judge of the Hamilton County Common Pleas Court and the Ohio First District Court of Appeals.



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