This has been one of the hardest decisions that I have had to make about how to vote. As readers may remember, I initially leaned towards voting none of the above or writing in a candidate rather than voting for McCain. (I don't find the third party candidates palatable.) While I thought McCain would be superior to Obama in the short term, the long term situation was different. After four years of Obama, there was a decent chance that the country would have seen the results of his policies and might have rejected them big time as they did Clinton in 1994 and Carter in 1980. In any event, being out of power, the Republicans would have had an incentive to reform. In 2012, the Republicans might be in a position to take back the presidency or the Congress.
By contrast, if McCain won, the Republicans would pursue big government policies that involve compromises with the Democrats. The Republicans would be blamed for the resulting ills and the party would still be clinging to power without having reformed. In 2012, the Republicans might even be more unpopular than they are today. While a McCain presidency would have the benefits of divided government, McCain is a compromiser who might sign on to lots of bad stuff from the Democrats. It is not clear that a Republican filibuster would be that much worse than a McCain veto pen (although the Republicans may do so badly that they may have a very weak filibuster).
I wish I had the luxury to vote this way. It was always a close case, but I would have been comfortable doing it. Unfortunately, something happened in October to change all that: The financial collapse. There are two main aspects of the collapse that really change things. First, the financial collapse means that lots of new legislation will be passed and the Democrats are likely to pass pretty bad stuff in this area. Second, and more importantly, even if the Democrats do a bad job and the economy does badly, the voters might not blame them now. Things might get so bad that voters might just cling to their government, especially if it is good at speaking to them and reassuring them. Moreover, voters might place the blame on the prior administration, saying that the Obama administration had merely inherited the problems.
Thus, I have reluctantly concluded that I should vote for McCain. It is an awful pill to swallow. I don't particularly like the man, and really dislike his policies. But that is how bad things have gotten. So, on Tuesday, I will "pull the lever" for McCain.