McCain and the Angry Americans

It was an ugly scene yesterday when Senator John McCain (R-AZ.) tried to calm a crowd of angry supporters. He urged them to stay “respectful” and that there was nothing to be afraid of should his opponent, Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) be elected president.

The latter message was quite bizarre as the McCain/Palin ticket has several times described actions and policies of Barack Obama as being “dangerous.” So you’re saying that we have nothing to be afraid of should a man with dangerous policies be elected?

There seemed to be a disconnect from the man on stage and the campaign run on his behalf on television, which points out ties to terrorists and dishonesty by Senator Obama.

Quite frankly, there’s quite a bit to be scared of in an Obama Administration where the wrong judgment in office on foreign policy could mean the nuclear destruction of an American city, Obama’s pro-abortion policies could mean 125,000 more abortions a year, and his economic policies could mean government run health care, job losses, and a fundamental alteration of the American economy. Add to that, re-education programs through far left community organizations, the messianic proclamations coming from such figures as Louis Farrakhan, and you’ve got quite a bit to be concerned about.

Certainly, there’s a legitimate concern here about anger as well as McCain becoming too partisan. First of all, he will almost certainly be dealing with a Democratic House and Senate. Life will be hard enough without being seen as a hyper-partisan candidate in the previous campaign.

Anger and fear are like fire. If they are properly directed and channeled, it can be the fuel that drives movements forward. Anti-tax anger helped to lead a cheerful Ronald Reagan to the White House. Reagan addressed the angst of the American people and brought us to “morning in America.” If it is not properly handled, you get Bush Derangement syndrome, or the extreme anti-Clintonism of the 1990s

Rather than trying to channel the fire, McCain tried to put it out, or at the very least showed he didn’t understand it. This is odd because McCain is known for his anger. He had no problem dropping the F-bomb on Senator John Cornyn (R-Tx.) over immigration reform earlier in this Congress, and also was quite willing to call opponents of amnesty, “bigots.”

When you listen closely to Senator McCain’s speeches, you’ll hear his anger directed mostly at “special interests” and “lobbyists.” Rarely is it at Congress itself. The foundational idea behind McCain-Feingold is that in Washington we have “good people stuck in a bad system.”

This contradicts the views of people who think we have scoundrels skulking the halls of Congress who care only about themselves. Certainly, some special interest groups are villains as they push for big subsidies from taxpayers and regulations that are good for them, but not America. However, these special interests never took an oath to defend the Constitution. Congressmen did, and they are violating it. Last week on his show, Mike Huckabee received sustained applause when he called for Congressmen to lose their jobs. You’d never hear such a thing from John McCain.

Whether McCain wins or not, it doesn’t seem possible that he can channel the justified anger of the American people. The most interesting political question for conservatives will be whether anyone can effectively channel that anger, or whether the right will take on the role of the unhinged from the American left.