metalluk (266 posts)
Mon Sep-08-08 02:53 PM
Democrat for John McCain
I'm a Democrat. I support the Democratic platform (95% of it, anyway) and I almost always vote for Democratic candidates. My car currently sports two bumper stickers, one critical of the Republican governor in my home state and the other reading "Democrat for John McCain."
The Obama campaign is currently sinking like a lead weight, although, no doubt, they'll be plenty of fight left in the organization during the next 60 days or so. I'm not one of those jumping onto the McCain-Palin bandwagon as a result of the recent Republican National Convention. My bumper sticker supporting McCain went onto my car in early June, as soon as it became inevitable that the Democratic Party was serious about nominating an inexperienced freshman senator and political cult guru for the presidency. The only thing that has changed for me as a result of the Republican National Convention and McCain's selection of Governor Palin as his running mate is that now I can vote for the McCain ticket with comfort and confidence rather than reluctance.
In his acceptance speech in Denver, Obama went out of his way to show that he could be tough – challenging, in effect, the old warrior McCain to a showdown, anytime, anywhere – as if street bluster were evidence of readiness to be commander-in-chief. The media pundits bought it, commending Obama for showing people across America that he had the toughness to be president. So, the Republicans responded by sending a woman to beat him up. McCain simply ignored the challenge, like Arnold Schwarzenegger laughing off the puffery of Dana Carvey imitating a weight-lifter on Saturday Night Live. It was the only decent thing to do.
Meanwhile, McCain thoroughly out-foxed the Obama camp with his selection of Palin, simultaneously demonstrating courage, reinforcing his maverick reputation, re-focusing his campaign on reform, putting the people of America first, energizing the Republican base, and appealing to disaffected Clinton supporters and Independents. Obviously, many Hillary supporters will still support the Democratic candidate, based on platform positions important to feminists, but many others will decide to support the party most prepared to take women seriously as leaders – the party ready to walk the walk instead of just talking the talk. So, while Obama put on his best imitation of a street punk to demonstrate his readiness to be commander-in-chief, McCain illustrated his far superior capacity for strategic thinking with an initiative that threw his opponent's team badly off-stride. Few independent-minded voters will wonder which of these skills, bluster or capacity for strategic thinking, would be more useful for a commander-in-chief.
Obama has long asserted his intent to engage in bipartisan initiatives, yet, in Denver, he illustrated that he has not yet even mastered mono-partisanship. Whatever unity came out of the Democratic National Convention came from the graciousness and loyalty of the Clintons. Clinton supporters were left to complain that none of the reconciliation had been Obama's doing. Obama's feet remained deeply embedded in the cement of hemi-partisanship. Hillary was not even entitled to consideration for the Vice Presidency.
Hillary has about the same likelihood of being offered a cabinet post in a McCain administration as with Obama. Clinton and McCain are close friends and have each expressed their admiration for one another. Just yesterday, McCain announced his intention to have Democrats in his cabinet and more than just the token one cross-party appointment that has occurred in previous administrations. Since the next Congress will likely be more solidly Democratic than the present one, McCain has no choice but to govern in a bipartisan manner if he wants to serve America First, as he has promised. Luckily for him, he has friends on both sides of the aisle and a history of working with Democrats on bipartisan initiatives. He worked, for example, with Democrat Russ Feingold on soft money restrictions, John Kerry on normalizing relations with Vietnam, and Ted Kennedy in an unsuccessful effort to reform immigration policies. He fought against corporate fraud, all sorts of instances of pork-barrel spending, the tobacco industry, steroid use by athletes, and a sweetheart deal for Boeing. When John McCain says that he puts ordinary Americans first, the record usually bears him out.
The biggest problem for Barack Obama, at this point, is that his core argument – that John McCain is G.W. Bush all over again – is false and will be understood as false by most Americans, obviously excepting highly partisan Democrats. McCain's core argument – that Obama is not ready (experienced enough) to be President – is fundamentally true. Although truth does not always weigh heavily enough in politics to make the difference for a gullible public, it is nevertheless inconvenient when it is all on the other side.
Obama has largely surrendered the change mantle to his opponent, however much he might squirm to retain it. The biggest hindrance to good government in Washington is not which party is pursuing its partisan agenda but the overwhelming predominance of partisan bickering itself. Both parties get hung up on ensuring that the other can claim no stellar initiatives or legislative successes when the next election cycle comes around. McCain is staking his claim as a change agent on reforming the way Washington does business by a willingness to engage in bipartisan initiatives, putting ordinary Americans first, and by resisting all sorts of ear-marks, regardless of whether they are sponsored by Republicans or Democrats. A liberal Democrat like Obama has no chance of exciting Republican cooperation, but a moderate Republican like McCain, with a long record of associations with Democrats, could truly make history by implementing a genuinely bipartisan administration. Obviously, he's going to defend Republican principles such as keeping government small, ensuring an economic and tax climate conducive to business, and cutting wasteful spending, but he'll likely work with Democrats on environmental concerns, a national energy policy, job retraining for those displaced by economic change, and immigration reform. For the public, there are distinct advantages to mixed-party government.
What about Obama's future? Will he be ready to be President in 2012 or 2016? Well, that depends on what he does between now and then. If he merely continues to run for the presidency after (if) he is defeated in November, because anything less would be beneath his dignity, then he still won't be ready to be President four or eight years hence. If, however, he acquires a record of significant service and successes in the years ahead, so that his achievements finally begin to match his potential, he'll become a truly great American – perhaps even as great as John McCain already is.
For the Democratic Party, having unwisely nominated a man not ready for the presidency, a loss this year will be a blessing in disguise. Four more years of partisan bickering and the resultant gridlock that an Obama presidency would bring, with Democrats in charge of both the Executive and Legislative branches, would surely result in American voters throwing the bums out in 2012. In the meanwhile, we Democrats will need to learn a valuable lesson – hubris leads to comeuppance. Voters care about a political party's platform but they also care about a candidate's credentials. Centrist Democrats and Independents just aren't going to support an unqualified candidate no matter which party nominates the person; and women aren't going to support a party unwilling or unable to take women seriously as political leaders.