Monday, February 4, 2008
In my last post, I
explained why John McCain’s policy positions render him unacceptable to
me. Here, I respond to what might seem
like the strongest argument for McCain: that he has the best chance of beating
When I say to other
Republicans that I oppose McCain, I am often asked, “But don’t you think McCain
is better than Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama? I must admit that however little I like McCain’s positions, I do like
them quite a bit more than Clinton’s and Obama’s. But that is the not the entire issue. The question is not merely who do you like
better; it is also where do you want the Republican party to be in four years
If McCain wins, the Republicans will have a President who pursues a set of policies that will include many undesirable things. This will have one of two effects (or possibly a combination). Either the Republicans will be transformed to the party of these undesirable things – campaign finance, more regulation, which is a really bad thing – or they will fight among themselves, greatly weakening the McCain presidency. In either event, the McCain presidency is unlikely to be successful from the perspective of a free market Republican – it either will pursue bad policies or will be ineffective. If, as seems likely, those policies turn out to be unsuccessful, it will be the Republicans who will be blamed for them.
Compare this to the situation if the Republicans lose. If Hillary is the President, there is a good chance – a very good chance – that the Democrats will govern poorly. Watching Bill Clinton serve as First House Husband is likely to turn the nation off. More importantly, the big government liberal policies of the past were rejected for a reason – they don’t work. The nation does not seem to remember this lesson, but they will learn it again. The last time a Clinton served in the White House with a Democratic Congress, although different in many ways, did not turn out badly for Newt Gingrich and Free Market Republicans. Moreover, under Hillary, the Republicans will be forced to regroup and rethink. They will purge the opportunists and become better again – just as they did in 1995.
If we focus on 2012, there is a choice. Do we want the Republicans to run John McCain again, following a poor presidency? Or do we want a reinvented and reinvigorated Republican party that runs someone who believes in the right things? To ask the question is to answer it.
This argument requires that one postpone gratification – that one focus on the future rather than the present. But that should not be hard for conservatives and libertarians, both of whom are quite comfortable with long run arguments. Sadly, the nation appears to have turned left and there is not much that can be done now. The best option at this point is to regroup and to be ready to fight in 2012.
Of course, there is the matter of Iraq and the War against Islamic Extremists. Yes, John McCain would be better in Iraq. But I don’t believe that Hillary will pull out the troops quickly in Iraq. Once elected, she is likely to proceed as Nixon did in Viet Nam (how funny that Hillary is like Nixon in so many ways!) She will act gradually to ensure that there is “peace with honor” (of course, she will not say that). If Obama is elected, that is a less happy story. He might try to withdraw more quickly. But if he does, the results will come back to bite him (and sadly us). He will be a one term president for sure then.
I am not happy about this situation. I would rather be electing Ronald Reagan again. But there is no Ronald Reagan this time, and the nation would not elect a new Ronald Regan again this time either. Sadly, Jimmy Carter had to be President for Ronald Reagan to be President. Our best option is to prepare for 2012.