The Question McCain Needs to Answer


By: Randall H. Nunn

Many Republicans—this writer included—are not happy with the thought of Senator John McCain as their presidential nominee. Many of these same Republicans are not happy with the Republican Party’s drift toward big government and away from conservative principles. Instead of capitalizing on their control of both houses of Congress and the White House and ushering in decades of Republican control of the government, the administration has missed opportunity after opportunity to show real leadership and make government our servant rather than our master. And Senator McCain promises more of the same, with even more of a tilt to the left. Given this, why should conservatives vote for Senator McCain?

The conventional answer is that Senator McCain is the lesser of two evils and, as conservatives, we would be better off with him in the White House than either Senator Obama or Senator Clinton. But would we?

While a McCain administration could be expected to propose less “liberal” legislation and a somewhat less intrusive federal government than either Obama or Clinton, the differences would not be great. If one looks at the net result of legislative and executive initiatives, it could well be the case that more McCain-proposed legislation would be passed than that proposed by a Democratic administration. This would likely be the case if Republicans in the Congress functioned effectively as a “loyal opposition” and stopped the worst of any socialistic initiatives of the liberal Democrats. Those same Republicans would be reluctant to vote against legislation pushed by “their” president.

The question that Senator McCain must answer for doubting conservatives is “Why are we better off with you in the White House than we would be if a Democrat is elected president and Republicans retain enough power in Congress to stop Democrat programs harmful to the country?” Based on McCain’s past record and positions, it is not readily apparent that McCain would be significantly better than the alternative. Certainly this is the case until McCain convinces conservatives that he shares many of their views on the critical issues of the day.

For a conservative Republican to be taking such a position will seem like heresy to some. How could we not support McCain when the result would be the likely election of a much more liberal candidate as president? The benefits of such an outcome could be several. For one, the Republican Party might come to its senses and purge those who brought on such a defeat. The Republican Party might actually become more interested in governing like a party truly interested in limited government and individual freedom rather than perpetuating its power. Secondly, the country could truly see the Democratic Party and its president for what they are, based not on campaign promises and empty rhetoric but on actual practices and results in office. Such a four year experience could rekindle the fire in those who have been let down by the Republican Party of today and motivate them to take back their party. And finally, with the country headed for some difficult economic times, it would be an opportunity to let the country see just how effectively the liberal Democrats can govern in trying times. Four years of such a spectacle should energize the conservative core of this country and stimulate interest and participation by those previously uncommitted souls whose interest in politics was erratic at best. Such an experience would be akin to water boarding for many who have forgotten what the left wing of the Democratic Party is really like.

If McCain were to be elected, will we get a president committed to limited government? Will we get back some of our First Amendment freedoms lost under McCain-Feingold? Will we know without doubt that conservative jurists will be appointed to the Supreme Court? Will we have a president who will take strong and effective measures to control illegal immigration? Will we have a president who stops pandering to the environmentalists and the global warming crowd? Will effective action be taken to reform social security and the federal income tax? Knowing the likely answers to these questions, why would conservatives be better off with McCain than the alternatives? It’s time to play defense in the Congress for the next four years and start building and organizing for 2012. That is, unless McCain can convince us otherwise.

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