Saturday, June 7, 2008

Overcoming Objections: The 'Elephant' in the Room

This week the Democratic Party anointed a liberal newcomer to seek the White House. In a year of unavoidable change, Republicans have cast their lots with John McCain – a man who challenges stereotypes not with his skin or his body parts, but with accountable, bipartisan leadership.

Despite McCain’s strong bipartisan record, I’ve met Democrats and Independents who have misgivings checking any box with an “R” next to it. I believe McCain is the best candidate for “true Republicans” and moderates of all affiliations (and yes, even liberal-leaners who value experience and qualifications – I’m told there are some.) Some objections to address:

McCain is the same as Bush. McCain himself said this best in Louisiana. The “guilt by association” campaign will deflate as Americans see McCain’s actual record. From Iraq strategy to climate change, McCain has publicly and prominently bucked his own party when the evidence suggested they were wrong. Sure, there are times he has voted with his party including supporting Bush on issues like tax cuts (McCain didn’t support the bill until irresponsible spending was addressed too.) But the Democrats are going to have a hard time proving that a McCain Presidency would look like a Bush one, because frankly, it wouldn’t.

I don’t want a Republican President and Democratic Congress. For independents, this is crucially important year because the ideological pendulum will swing next January. If Obama wins, our nation will have an extremely liberal Democratic president who appoints like-minded judges working with a Democrat-majority Congress. Or under McCain we’ll have a Republican president appointing constitutionalist judges and balancing out potentially extreme legislation and spending coming off Capitol Hill. If you consider yourself moderate, a McCain presidency is clearly a better scenario.

I don’t like the Republican party’s stance on Issue X. As a likely one-term President, McCain will not have an “army of elephants” to impress every time he vetoes a pork-laden bill, defends our troops’ efforts, or changes a flawed policy. The Democratic Congress and Republican President can hold each other accountable more effectively than yes-men from the same party.

I *never* vote Republican. Steve Maloney and others are addressing the shameful disaster which is DNC leadership right now. Many life-long Democrats are taking a second look at their own party’s direction and judgment, disliking what they see, and reluctantly considering the alternative. Independents are increasingly looking for something new and different, and many are surprised to find it on the Red Side of the aisle.

The good news is that parties don’t run countries, people do – and while both candidates claim bipartisan cooperation and appeal, only McCain has the record to back up that statement. Dem-turned-Independent Joe Lieberman, a staunch ally of McCain’s, has just launched a new ‘official’ site to welcome ‘purple and blue’ Citizens for McCain. Yahoo, CafeMom, and other grassroots groups are springing up to create a home for disenfranchised Democrats and independents, come check them out and judge for yourself.

But *seriously*, my grandparents would roll in their grave if I ever voted Republican. To the truly reluctant, there are other factual chasms between Obama and McCain that any savvy voter should consider.

Consider the candidates’ own records: one has 26 years experience in Washington, one has 4. One has co-sponsored dozens of bills, many bipartisan. The other has um, one. One has zero earmarks in a quarter century in Congress, and has vowed to veto any bill with pork-barrel spending and "make their authors famous." The other quietly took $80 million in earmarks last year ALONE and has said explicitly he will raise a wide variety of taxes if elected.

Doesn’t sound so ridiculous to choose McCain now, does it?

Lest I be called a hypocrite, I personally am a Republican and I feel that McCain’s policies represent the best of conservativism and common sense. That said, I do feel there are areas where my party has strayed, and I feel both parties need to be more accountable for their spending, their voting, and their priorities in the next administration.

If you feel the same, whatever your party, please join the bipartisan effort to elect McCain today.

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