The Post I Never Thought I'd Write

I’ve been officially on the sidelines of the Presidential race the past few months. The race between John McCain and Barack Obama has been represented as a choice between the lesser of two evils for most of the six months since Senator McCain clinched the nomination.

The message about this election from the top of the party to disillusioned members of the Republican base was, “Vote for McCain, at least he’s not Obama.”

It was inspiring, all we needed was a banner that said: “McCain: He’ll screw up the country less.”

These lesser of two evils arguments were and are utterly unpersuasive, as well as various manipulative guilt games played. Let me be clear: voters do not belong to a candidate, votes must be earned. If a candidate cannot earn the votes of enough citizens to win the election, that’s his fault, not the fault of the citizens.

In the end, what is required is a positive case for what a candidate will do for our country, not just a negative examination of what their opponent will do.

After much careful thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that, despite some reservations, a McCain presidency would have a positive effect on the country for four specific reasons beyond the popular war on terror meme:

Judges: McCain has promised to appoint judges in the mold of Justices Roberts and Alito. In addition, the McCain camp has promised former Senator Fred Thompson would play a prominent role in vetting judges. This is a comforting thought. The most likely retirements from the court are from the seats held by Justice Stevens and Justice Ginsburg. A President Obama would be unlikely to appoint justices worse than those two, but a President McCain would likely appoint justices who would be strict constructionists, and it becomes far more likely that Roe v. Wade is overturned.Energy: With John McCain’s original stance on oil drilling, there was little chance I’d ever support him. I’m a middle class guy, and I’m feeling the squeeze of high pump prices, both at the gas station and when buying groceries. McCain was instrumental in creating this problem. Back in March while staring at the incredibly high prices, I thought of McCain’s opposition to drilling in ANWR and told my wife, “If he wants money, let the dang Caribou give it to him.”Unlike Senator Obama, however, Senator McCain has shown willingness to adjust his position to the reality facing Americans and has embraced an all of the above approach to our nation’s energy crisis that includes both new oil drilling as well as developing alternative energy sources including nuclear, natural gas, solar, and clean coal technologies. He’s also prepared to offer prices as incentives for innovation in transportation technology.Senator McCain will also end protectionist tariffs that have stopped cheaper bio-fuels such as sugar-based ethanol from entering our country. While I still don’t understand why frozen tundra in Alaska is more pristine than the Ocean, McCain’s support for off-shore drilling and lifting trade-barriers on sugar-based ethanol will relieve America’s pressure at the pump in the short-term, and his long-term support for alternative energy will lessen American dependence on foreign oil.Spending: One issue John McCain has been consistent on for his entire career has been government spending. McCain has never requested an earmark. From 1992-2006, he was named a Friend of the Taxpayers by National Taxpayers Union ten times. McCain wisely opposed the creation of Bush’s Prescription Drug Benefit in 2003. James Pethokoukis of U.S. News and World Report describes Obama’s plans for government spending as “half billion deficits as far as the eye can see.”Even at current rates of spending, America is set to spend at record levels as a percentage of GDP. As of right now, America has a national debt of nearly $9 trillion and it’s headed upward. Someone needs to put the breaks on this thing and, of the candidates running, I can think of only one candidate that can be trusted to do that: John McCain.Vice-President: Some people insist that McCain’s choice of Vice-President, Governor Sarah Palin, is irrelevant to the vote for President. If you were to view McCain a presidency as a mostly negative thing, this would be a valid point.Myself, I’m not hoping for Senator McCain to be unable to finish his term or anything ghoulish like that. The issues I’ve discussed here have been question marks in my mind.On the issue of judges, the question had to begged whether McCain would really appoint strict constructionist judges, even with Fred Thompson around. On energy, would he stick to the drill here, drill now stance, or as President would he revert to his previous position? With a Democratic Congress would he be able to hold the line on fiscal discipline?The variables here are answered in the Palin pick. As Morton Blackwell has observed, “Personnel is policy.” A Lieberman or Ridge pick would call into question McCain’s seriousness on all of these issues. A Pawlenty or Romney pick would tell us little. The choice of Governor Sarah Palin answers the burning questions one must have about the credibility of John McCain.The choice of Governor Palin shows good judgment in choosing a choice compatible with conservative values, and coupled with the Thompson role gives me a strong degree of confidence in the type of judges, McCain will choose.The Palin pick shows a seriousness about energy policy. Given Governor Palin’s passionate involvement in energy issues, McCain couldn’t back out of his commitment to more drilling if he wanted to.Finally, the choice of Palin shows a dedication to fiscal discipline. The Palin pick, like no other, signaled that John McCain is serious about addressing America’s over-spending. The National Taxpayer’s Union blog has pointed out that Palin’s first two budgets as Governor proposed expenditure reductions of 6.8% and 7.8%, respectively.McCain-Palin can be expected to reduce government waste, eliminate inefficiencies in government, bring down the deficit, and restore fiscal responsibility to America’s Capitol.It’s also my hope that they address the issue of entitlement reform in a serious manner. While pork barrel spending and the national debt are huge issues, entitlements are critical issues that must be addressed. The $45 trillion projected shortfalls in Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement will hit my generation like a tidal wave, if we don’t have an administration that will take these issues seriously.

This is not to say that I don’t have concerns about a potential McCain Administration.Cap and trade is a foolish scheme based on global warming hysteria.

I remain concerned by Senator McCain’s past support for spending federal dollars on some embryonic stem cell research on frozen embryos designated for research. This is not only a wasteful use of tax dollars, but almost certainly a futile one as well. Given that most American biotech corporations have little hesitation about destroying human embryos, the lack of private money for this research should clue us in that this is not a wise investment of tax dollars however you happen to feel about the ethics of it.

I take comfort in the fact that Senator McCain has declared his desire that scientific advances in adult stem cells would make the debate moot and largely, the science is out there to do just that. Even if McCain should take the step of allowing this research, he has been clear that he opposes embryo farming, which would be the next step forward in the demands of the ESCR crowd as, while there are 400,000 frozen embryos in this country, only 10-20,000 are actually designated for research, and this would be exhausted shortly.

Finally, is the issue of amnesty. First, I’ll give Senator McCain the benefit of the doubt that he’ll take care of border security before he pushes amnesty. Secondly, failing that, we should remember that America has had a pro-Amnesty president for the past four years and it still hasn’t happened. In 2007, a cloture vote to cut off debate on the amnesty bill failed 47-52, 13 votes shy of what was required. In 2006, the Republican House killed amnesty.

To me, the best solution to blunting any potential amnesty bill from a McCain Administration is the election of solid conservative members of Congress who will oppose it, while also keeping pressure on members of Congress whenever amnesty is brought up.

On the balance, despite some reservations, I believe the McCain/Palin ticket represents the best choice in this election. The Republican Party does best when it represents the party of conservative reform, and they take us in that direction. So, they will have my vote this November.

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