John McCain

I read about half of an interview with John McCain in the most recent issue of Men's Journal. I plan to read the whole thing, but I ran out of time today. In any case, the article got me to thinking about Senator McCain, and reinforced my current position to not support him as presidential candidate if he so chooses to run. Of course, a lot could happen between now and 2008.

In 2000, I was a strong McCain supporter. At that time, I agreed with the majority of the issues that McCain publicly campaigned for and against; issues and positions that went against the main current of his Republican party. Primarily, I liked his strong stand against cronyism and the extreme religious right fanatics. (sidebar here: Those who know me know that I have nothing against religion or religious people. However, those that use religion to get rich, preach hatred or spread division have no place in politics, in my humble opinion.) I also liked his war record and his demeanor.

I still like John McCain, and I think he is an important voice of moderation within the Republican party. I could easily vote Republican with candidates in his mold. However, I was put off, perhaps irreparably so, by McCain's strong support of Bush in the election of 2004.

I don't agree with McCain that the war on terror, an abstract concept by any definition, is the most important issue facing the country. It is important, but so are other issues, primarily domestic, which result in pain and injustice thousands of times greater than any terrorist attack. (I'm not talking about the fight over judges here, or issues like Teri Schiavo. I'm talking about real human interest issues like health care, jobs and other issues that left unsolved could slowly destroy the U.S.) Furthermore, McCain says that he supported Bush because he was the stronger candidate for the war on terror. I don't buy this argument either. What it looks like to me, and I presume it looks like to a lot of other centrist voters, is that McCain supported Bush because he has unquenchable presidential ambition (he virtually admits this in the Men's Journal article), and he knows that he needs the support of the Republican party base to reach his goal. Not supporting Bush would have been political suicide for McCain within the Republican party--or so he surmised, and I tend to agree. He thinks his run at being a maverick candidate in 2000 has cemented his qualification as a moderate centrist, but I think his level of support for Bush has erased any such credentials. I admire McCain for putting his personal differences with Bush behind him. Some of the tactics that the Bush campaign used against McCain in 2000 (particularly in S.C.) are a primary reason that I distrust Bush and his orchestrator Karl Rove. However, I can't reconcile the fact that McCain so adamantly supported Bush in the 2004 campaign--notwithstanding all their former policy disagreements. The war on terror is simply not a large enough issue, in my opinion, to render moot so many other vital disagreements. I don't think that McCain should have become Kerry's running mate, or that he should have campaigned for Kerry, or against Bush. I just wish he wouldn't have campaigned so enthusiastically for Bush. He lost a lot of credibility with me when he did that. It's like he was saying to me his own future was more important than the issues he so boldly stood for in 2000. All of the sudden, Senator McCain looks like another regular politician. I am now on the search of another good, centrist candidate. Incidentally, I find most of the ablest centrist candidates within the Republican party--if they would just stand up and fight against their party establishment which has been hijacked by the far right.

McCain says that Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt are his heroes, and that is one of the reasons he gives for not wanting to leave the Republican party. However, Roosevelt did leave, and neither Roosevelt nor Lincoln would recognize what the Republican party has primarily become. It may be "conservative" by name, but conservativism has little to do with the ultimate aim of the modern party. Roosevelt was bold enough to sacrifice his political future by leaving his party, which he believed had strayed too far away from the progressive ideals in which he believed. The Republican party of today is trying to reestablish the Gilded Age that Roosevelt so passionately fought against.

Political parties are strange organizations (dare I say, organisms.) I don't like them. George Washington didn't like them. John Adams didn't like them. They are perceived as necessary for reaching the White House, and that may be true. I hope it is not, because above all, I believe political parties (especially a two-party dominated system) corrupt and damage a democratic republic. It is often argued that political parties give voice to those that could otherwise never be heard. However, on balance, I think they stifle many more voices than they promote.

Comments

Sean said…
yes, Eric. my beef with Cain is that he's too much of a politician. he's prone to the same crappy rhetoric in pursuit of his own power-base that the other politicians are.

I have trouble believing political parties give voice to unheard people. i think, like you, that they shout down more voices then they amplify. however, i'm not prepared to say with you, yet, that they 'corrupt and damage a democratic republic'. that's a bridge too far for me right now.

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