But headstrong Americans that we are, we demand much of our elected officials, and are quick to complain when they don't suit us 100%. (To quote fellow Republican Abe Lincoln, 'you can't please all of the people all of the time.') So despite months of discussion, I will still encounter people who insist that McCain 'isn't conservative enough' and they are hesitant to give him their full support. Some have even threatened to withhold their votes to send a message (the message, of course, is welcome in, President Obama).
I don't know how each individual defines 'conservative', there is an excellent piece by SC governor Mark Sanford here. In the meantime, here are some key FACTS from McCain's record:
- McCain received an 83% rating from the American Conservative Union, thus even the hardest-core conservatives acknowledge McCain is with them on the overwhelming majority of his votes. (Clinton and Obama were each 0%.)
- In a 25-year Senate career, McCain voted pro-life 125 out of 130 times. He has been endorsed by pro-life leaders such as Gary Bauer, former candidate Sam Brownback and National Right to Life. (NARAL is spending millions on an anti-McCain campaign. I will not deign to include a link to their pages but suffice it to say they do an excellent job establishing McCain as solidly pro-life.)
- McCain is the only candidate who has any military service experience at all. He has two sons currently serving on active duty and military legacy is a crucial part of McCain's character and experience. He has been endorsed by Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, Alexander Haig, Norman Schwarzkopf and over 100 military Admirals and Generals. And his support among military families, despite ridiculously selective reporting by some media outlets, is strong, see one Army Mom's comments.
- In a 25-year Senate career, McCain's bills included ZERO dollars in earmarks ('pork barrel') spending. In comparison, Hillary had $300 million LAST YEAR ALONE. Obama had a mere $80 million in his 3rd year in office.) According to Sanford, McCain NEVER voted for a new tax and supports Bush's tax cuts.
- McCain was offered the opportunity to switch parties. And despite media and political pressure, he declined. At least twice that I can document, in 2001/02 and 2004. (This to me emphasizes that he appeals to liberals enough to get elected, but has been sincerely loyal to Republican and conservative causes.)
Could McCain (or anyone running) legitimately declare themselves to be 100% conservative? No. John McCain isn't running for President of the Republican party, or of the conservative movement. He is running for President of the very divided United States. A country in which a large majority of people disapprove of both the Republican President AND the Democratic-led Congress. A country which right now is up for grabs - we WILL have change under the next administration, we just have to choose the leader of that charge.
Any American who values limited government, responsible spending, strong military and foreign policy should vote for McCain with your head held high. Not merely because the alternatives are morally or logistically repulsive. McCain is the kind of President who can restore dignity to the Oval Office and credibility to the values conservatives cherish - if we show we have the dignity and unity the Democrats don't.