With John McCain as the inevitable Republican nominee, conservatives are now deciding if their values would be best furthered by supporting his representation of their interests as president. His assortment of very liberal, moderate and conservative policies bring doubt. The alternative is to withhold support and use a Democrat presidency to clarify, reinforce and promote distinctions between conservatism and liberalism, between Republicans and Democrats. There is no shortage of editorials and tirades from both sides, but they present only half the picture at best, intending to persuade rather than to fully support an independent rational decision.
Perhaps presenting the political considerations in an organized bullet pointed list would help resolve the decision for some. Of course, supporting McCain will eventually be a personal decision, with the values of each individual determining how the many considerations are weighed against one another.
Reasons to Ignore McCain in November
- If Democrats are elected, they would have to govern through controversy, passing divisive legislation rather than just claim ownership of lofty ideals and demigod conservatives.
- Since authority brings responsibility, conservatives would be better positioned to fully hold Democrats responsible for the damage done by their leadership, corruption, pork and incompetence.
- If McCain were president, he would arguably implement a large percentage of Democrat initiatives, giving Democrats bipartisan cover from responsibility.
- Under a Democrat administration, impending tax hikes from the expiring tax cuts would be a Democrat responsibility.
- Without McCain as president, conservatives would not be responsible for the failure to pass popular but unrealistic Democrat campaign promises, made even less realistic if tax hikes fail to increased revenue needed for them.
- Any reform or lack of reform of Medicare and Medicaid would be a Democrat responsibility, especially after President Bush's bold attempt at a balanced reform.
- Passage of McCain’s amnesty bill would become a Democrat responsibility.
- Passage of McCain’s 50 cents/gallon gas tax would become a Democrat responsibility.
- Passage of proposals to combat man made global warming (that McCain promotes) would become a Democrat responsibility.
- Any further McCain-like regulation of the media, such as the fairness doctrine, would become a Democrat responsibility.
- Nationalized healthcare would be a Democrat responsibility rather than a bipartisan compromise with McCain’s version.
- Without the need to defend the compromises required to lead, conservatives would be much freer to promote conservative ideals.
- Under a Democrat presidency, the conservative leaning media would have a tsunami of guests straining to distinguish conservative policies from those of Democrats regarding courts, healthcare, regulation, energy, taxes, social security, foreign affairs (renamed from the war on terror), global warming, etc…
- Four years of President McCain (who Bush called “a true conservative”) may confuse both Republicans and Conservative friendly media as to the nature of conservatism.
- The conservative base would be strained and largely ignored both during and after a McCain presidency.
- McCain's loss would thwart many of the establishment’s attempts to decouple conservatives from Republicans, and to promote them as an irrelevant fringe.
- Many prominent conservatives are withholding McCain support.
- A liberal McCain presidency could leave Republicans vulnerable to Democrat flanking maneuvers to their right, losing many moderates and some conservatives.
- McCain eagerly compromising with Democrat initiatives, while calling himself a conservative for 8 years would leave those who still understand conservatism unable to convince young people that the Republican Party promotes it.
Disempowering Republican Liberals
- Such a liberal Republican's loss would make Republicans reluctant to nominate another.
- Obama appears likely to win some election cycle, but McCain’s coalition of left-leaning media and establishment moderates would be the focus of what is defeated this cycle.
Little Effect on the War on Terror
- Democrats are not anxious to validate their soft on terror reputation by rapidly dismantling our achievements, and they have several outs regarding their reluctant promises to rapidly remove troops from Iraq.
- By 2009, remaining al-Qaeda strongholds in Northern Iraq may be eliminated, and Iraqi Security Forces will be more capable of accepting responsibility.
- A free Iraq would likely survive even the most hurried attempts to “redeploy” US combat troops because the best professionals from the Pentagon on down are now aware of which strategies and efforts are successful, and those efforts have momentum.
- Even conservatives disagree on effective Iranian and Pakistani policies, and both Obama and Hillary have vaguely criticized Bush's limited approach.
- Leading Democrats opposition to WOT campaigns is politically motivated, more a product of opposing anything that promotes Republicans than wanting a US defeat.
- Leading Democrats would be anxious for their turn to lead an overwhelming military response to the next WOT crisis in order to claim national security as their strength.
Reasons to Support McCain in November
- During these times of great economic success, social stability and safety, McCain may be the most right of center of a candidate that is electable despite being the most liberal Republican ever nominated (irrespective of the American Conservative Union’s critically flawed standard rating methodology).
- President McCain would nominate moderate to conservative judges as opposed to Democrats’ moderate to liberal picks.
Republican Party Promotion
- President McCain would enable Republicans (including some supporting conservatives) to claim a win in the general election and enjoy all of the momentum that goes with it.
- Political donations go to the party with power.
- Republicans would have a popular “straight talking” media-friendly face.
- The Republican Party may gain a softer image that appeals to more moderates (unless it is shouldered with blame for compromises with disastrous Democrat initiatives.)
- Our economy may strengthen despite the passage of liberal initiatives, and Republicans would share credit.
- Tens of millions of (predominately leftist) illegal aliens may be a little more likely to vote Republican in a few years, but not necessarily vote conservative.
- Submitting one's personal choice to a party and speaking with one voice generally strengthens a party.
War on Terror
- President McCain would likely be a good if not excellent WOT commander (except when aggressive interrogation or offshore detention of terrorists are needed).
- Some elements of conservatism would be present in many of President McCain's policies, arguably more than in the policies of a Democrat executive concerned with alienating the electorate.
- Further government corruption by Clinton appointments would be blocked.
- Full implementation of Obama’s liberal policies would at least be delayed.
- McCain’s executive appointments may further the entrenchment of Republican leaning federal bureaucrats.
- President Bush and some conservatives will support McCain.
People will of course disagree with the importance or the validity of some of these considerations. Some people will even place one or two as more important than all the rest. Nevertheless, I believe this list is fair and inclusive enough to help in decision making by collecting the many complex and dynamic considerations in one place for a better prospective.
If something should be edited or added, please post it.
Also, If anyone knows of an online quiz tool that would allow respondents to assign both a likelihood and an importance rating to each of these points (perhaps on a percentage and a 1-20 scale respectively), please let me know and I’ll get it up. The tools I found just allow a correct and incorrect value to be assigned to answers. This list needs software that would accept different values for each answer, ideally two sets of answers for each bullet point - one for its likelihood (0% - 100%) and another for its importance (on a 1-20 scale) that could be multiplied for each point and then summed at the end to measure one's support for a McCain presidency as a positive or negative value.