This will be the first of two posts that I plan to write on the presidential election. The first post will give my reasons for opposing John McCain and therefore supporting Mitt Romney. The second will discuss the fact that McCain is much more likely to beat the Democrats than Romney and how we should weigh that fact.
On the basis of their political positions, I simply cannot vote for John McCain. Like many free-market Republicans, I have long disliked him. Now that he is the front runner, and is said to have the best chance of beating the Democrats in the general election, I have thought long and hard about whether I can support him. At this point, I simply cannot.
There are just too many issues where I strongly disagree with John McCain. Let me list some of them:
1. Not only does McCain support McCain- Feingold, it is one of his signature issues. This will infect many aspects of his presidency, including his appointment of judges. It will be devastating to have a President and a Congress who strongly support this issue at the same time.
2. McCain opposed the Bush Tax Cuts, and what is worse, used class warfare rhetoric to criticize them.
3. McCain has taken strong positions against doing anything about illegal immigration. I don’t believe his recent “conversion” on the issue. For the record, I favor a large amount of legal immigration, but I believe that illegal immigration needs to be addressed.
4. McCain opposes strong interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, for top members of Al Qaeda like Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
5. McCain wants to close down Guantanamo.
6. McCain favors reimportation of drugs.
7. McCain takes a strong position on opposing global warming. For the record, I think that the evidence probably supports taking some actions now, such as establishing prizes for the development of technology reducing greenhouse gases, but not the kind of strong regulatory actions that McCain seems to support.
8. McCain opposes drilling in ANWR.
9. McCain generally favors regulating American business, including pharmaceutical companies and transportation companies. This is his instinctual reaction to actions he does not like. He does not seem to understand economics. Recently, he spoke about the subprime problem in terms of “greedy people on Wall Street who need to go to jail."
10. McCain would not be good on judges. Despite his claims to the contrary, there is strong evidence that he would not have appointed Alito. And he is not likely to appoint people who think campaign finance is unconstitutional.
I recognize that
McCain has been good on some issues. As he constantly reminds us, he vigorously supported the surge. And he seems to be
strongly against excessive spending. He
even opposed the Bush Prescription Drug bill. But I just don’t think these are enough.
More importantly, I don’t trust McCain on most domestic issues. I know McCain was against Medicare prescription drugs. But imagine that the Democrats have control of both houses and they send him a national health care bill that does not spend too much federal money but instead imposes obligations on employers. Would McCain sign it? My fear is that he would do it in a heartbeat.
In the past, I thought the strongest argument for McCain was that he was the most likely candidate to beat the Democrats. Isn’t half a loaf better than nothing? I now believe that this argument is mistaken – and will explain why in my next post.
Update: I respond to Ilya Somin's comments here.