So I won't be at all surprised when the strategy of voting noselessly starts getting touted in this year's election. Like each of the candidates I've listed above, John McCain carries with him the reputation for being unreliable when it comes to his conservatism; he is, perhaps, more clearly exuding the aroma of moderation/liberalism than some of the previous candidates (with the exception of Bob Dole, of course) but the difference is more one of degree than kind. None of the Republican presidents we've had in recent memory have been strongly conservative; none have favored downsizing the federal government; and while some token efforts have been made in the cultural/moral realm, most particularly on abortion, these efforts have largely been limited to ensuring that federal dollars won't be spent on abortions or for similar small-approach measures. Real leadership on conservative issues has been rare, and whatever one thinks of our current president, there's no denying the fact that the government has actually increased in size and power under his watch (Department of Homeland Security, anyone?).
And we can't expect John McCain, who has been proud of some of the rather liberal stances he's taken during his long Senate career, to morph suddenly into a limited government social conservative. It's pretty clear that conservatives are going to end up being disappointed and unhappy with a McCain administration, even more so than we've been with the two Bush administrations.
But in between those disappointing administrations our country endured eight years of Clinton, and that's a factor that can't be overlooked.
My list yesterday of things I don't like about McCain was very sincere, but the truth is that compared to either Clinton or Obama the man seems like a paragon of virtue and reliability. Even his ESCR problem, the most serious disagreement I have with McCain, pales next to the bloodthirsty support for federally-funded feticide and, in Obama's case, full-fledged infanticide, that characterizes Hillary and Barack. I may feel as though I can't trust McCain, but I can trust both Clinton and Obama to be far left-leaning socialists in Democrat clothing, people who never met a tax hike they didn't like or a government program they didn't want to endow with our money. McCain may make me uneasy, but Barack and Hillary give me nightmares.
So, would I vote for McCain?
As much as I'd like to rule it out here and now and have done with it, giving my sore and tired nose some much needed relief, I can't just yet. Whether I can bring myself to vote for McCain or not is going to depend on several factors that have yet to be determined:
- Who the Democratic nominee is, and how much support he or she is getting. This is the game many are playing with the primary, either seeing it as necessary to knock HRC out altogether, or seeing this moment as the one chance to derail the seemingly more dangerous Obama. Unfortunately this game is a treacherous one, as we have no idea right now which of these two people would be easier for McCain to defeat. But in the event of a very strong Democratic candidate, it might be necessary to reach for the nostrils yet again.
- Just how strong the Democrat is. I chose to please myself and vote for Pat Buchanan the year that Dole was the nominee, because it was obvious long before election day that Clinton was going to win by a sizable margin. I don't want Hillary or Obama to win, but if my vote is going to be thrown away on a candidate who has no chance of prevailing, I'm certainly not going to have that candidate be someone I'm barely capable of supporting in the first place.
- Just how strong McCain is. If the Democratic candidate implodes somehow before election day, and McCain is leading by a huge margin, I may feel free to write in a candidate I'd like better--and this is especially true here in Texas, which has a tendency to line up for the Republican candidate and hand over the electoral votes without much fuss.
- Some other factors that have yet to be determined, the most important of which is who McCain decides to choose as his running mate. If anything is going to clue us in as to the general tone of a McCain administration, or let us know how important the issues and concerns of social/religious conservatives are, it will be this choice. So far the names I'm hearing aren't impressive, but the media has had a tendency to be wrong in this area, so I'll wait and see.