Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Conservative Opposition to John McCain

As should be perfectly clear by now, Senator John McCain of Arizona is set to be the Republican nominee for President. As should also be perfectly clear, a lot of the Republican Party hates him.

Why is this? Well, ask and you'll get many reasons.

McCain-Feingold, for one. Hey, I didn't like it either when the Federal Election Commission tried to apply the rules meant for big advertisers to private bloggers, but we came through that all right. Still, it's a sloppy piece of legislation.

McCain-Kennedy for another. Amnesty for illegal aliens? Get out of here, and take your bill with you.

Then the opposition to Bush's tax cuts. John McCain opposed the tax cuts, it's true. But let's look at why he did it: There were no spending cuts to accompany them, which means that he was opposing cutting revenue while not cutting outlays, i.e. going further into debt. Is this not a fiscally conservative position?

However, the same commentators who lambast McCain tend to love George W. Bush. So for comparison's sake, let's talk about Bush's positions on these same issues that conservative pundits are taking exception to.

First, campaign finance reform. Fine, McCain pushed it and it can be seen as an infringement on freedom of speech. However, these same pundits love the PATRIOT Act, which Bush fervently supports and if anything is a larger infringement on civil liberties than campaign finance reform could ever conceivably be.

How about the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill? Oops. Bush pushed that same bill harder than John McCain ever did.

And sure, Bush cut taxes, but he did absolutely nothing to curb federal spending; in fact, he increased it to higher levels than any other post-Cold War President. And yet, for all this, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and the other big-name talk radio pundits love the President.

No, the real reason is none of those. It is this: Look at the other names on the bills I mentioned above. Notice anything?

Yes. Kennedy and Feingold are Democrats. And that's it right there. This is not about the issues, it isn't about conservatism, and it isn't even about McCain himself. It's all about party loyalty. McCain will occasionally cooperate with Democrats to get things done on Capitol Hill, and to the hard-line Republican wing, this is an unforgivable sin greater than any of the many non-conservative indiscretions Bush has committed in office. Sure, he shot the national debt through the roof, signed the PATRIOT Act into law, and did absolutely nothing to curb Congressional pork spending (it took the man how long to veto even a single bill?), but he never cooperated with Democrats on any meaningful level. So he's good.

What does it say about American politics when party loyalty is the determining factor in an election, rather than the candidates' positions on the issues, capability to act, or even political skill? (For the record, the ability to cooperate with Democrats across the aisle marks McCain as a consummate politician; someone with the ability to exercise great influence in Washington. If anything, it should be a qualification.) There's nothing wrong with opposing McCain based on the issues (despite writing him in as a protest vote in 2004, I do), but doing so simply because he will actually execute his legislative duties when doing that requires being civil to a Democrat is an ideologically and intellectually bankrupt position to take.

1 comment:

Lavonn said...

Thanks for writing this.