Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Can I Stop Holding My Nose Now?

It seems as though from the very earliest years in which I was eligible to vote, the phrase "We have to hold our noses and vote for X," was prevalent in the conservative political/religious circles I found myself in. I can remember people being told to seize their olfactory appendages and vote for George H.W. Bush, Bob Dole, and even George W. Bush, as if the only way to remain conservative and still vote for Republicans was to keep that nose firmly closed, to avoid being overpowered by the unmistakable scent of the moderate Republican that still clung to each of these men.

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:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
In an ideal world, we'd never have to hold our noses and vote for a candidate who is barely acceptable to us; in some ways I hope that this election won't come to that. But if we're in a neck-and-neck fight with a Democrat who truly frightens me, holding my nose again may seem like the only possible option.


matthew archbold said...

It's a difficult decision. But I think I've finally come to terms with McCain. I don't trust him but in a term when six of the Supreme Court Justices are 68 or older I want someone who "might" put in a pro-life justice. I know Obama or Hillary won't.

Red Cardigan said...

That is one of those things to keep in mind, Matthew. Thanks for pointing it out.

Anonymous said...

I too will vote for Mac Cain. I hope that the conservatives power brokers will hold him to the Supreme Court appointees. That to me, is more important than anything else, including who he picks for a running mate, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Of course, I should be able to spell his name correctly. My bad, it's early in the am here.

freddy said...

I stopped holding my nose some time back. Now I just vote for whomever I think will do the best job. I no longer care if that person is "electable." I refuse to feel guilty about it. I will no longer accept being lied to, pandered to, marginalized and bullied about my voting choice. My vote -- if I vote third party, or don't vote at all for president -- will not put Hillary or Obama in office. My vote is a positive thing, not a negative blocking action and I refuse to see it that way. So what if my vote is a tiny squeak amid the roars of the Big Animals. It's my squeak -- my little cry of liberty. And you know what? I don't regret that I didn't vote for George W. Bush. I doubt I'll lose any sleep over not voting for John McCain.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Freddy on this one. The Republican Party will not lose the next election because I decide to vote third party or not at all. The Republican Party is going to lose based on the way the current administration has made a muck of things with its unbalanced budget and the "war on terror". McCain would be a horrible president. My solace is that the next president will only run a 4 year term because the next president coming in is going to be blamed for the recession we are heading into.

Rebecca said...

I keep thinking he will counter his moderate stances by choosing a strong conservative as a running mate. Who though? I have no idea.

I will vote for him because of the abortion issue alone, not because I agree with all the rest of his ideas. I cannot vote for Obama or Clinton without feeling that I will have blood on my hands.

La Familia said...

Is there a possibility that the Republican party can be wrong about the "war on terror" and keep doing the horrible job they're doing running this country because they know we conservatives will vote for them anyway based on their supposed anti-abortion stance?