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Two Reminders for Voters

TOMORROW Republican primary and caucus voters in Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Washington State, and most of New England will indicate their preference for the Republican presidential nominee. In the present situation, we believe that voters should keep certain things in mind as they decide how to cast their ballots:

Economic policy. The structural changes affecting the US (and world) economy are just that: natural structural changes the economy is going through as it adapts and evolves in response to new markets, new trade rules, and new technology. Some voters may be uneasy about the possibility of losing their jobs (not a concern to be taken lightly), but the fact is that unemployment in the United States is fairly low. "Wall Street" and NAFTA are easy targets, but are not the main causes of economic change.

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Free trade should indeed be fair trade. But international trade agreements contain provisions for arbitration of trade disputes, and the Reagan, Bush, and Clinton administrations have made serious progress in levelling the playing field, especially with Japan, whose trade surplus with the US is shrinking. Raising tariffs, erecting other trade barriers, and attempting to insulate the American economy from the rest of the world would create an economic catastrophe that could take decades to recover from. The resulting global instability, as during the '30s, could be a fertile ground for demagogues and warmongers.

Experience. The job of president of the United States is one of the most complicated on the planet. Previous government experience, at the state or federal level, seems almost a prerequisite. The president still controls a vast arsenal of nuclear weapons. The country and the world cannot afford the amount of on-the-job training in complex issues that would be required of one who has never held public office. Such inexperience could be an open invitation to rogue dictators like Sadaam Hussein to undertake dangerous adventures to test US resolve.

It is one thing to hold opinions. It is quite another to govern.

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