Thursday, February 07, 2008

Why McCain?

Whether you like him or not, John McCain as Republican nominee is a healthy development for American political discourse. You could take the view that it is counter-intuitive to want McCain for the Republicans, simply because he has the best chance against the Democrats. Why would you pull for the biggest threat, isn't it better to have a non-electable stooge like Romney?

The American hard right have always held a disporportionate voice, that wing has held the Republican party hostage for decades. The influence has effectively forced the Democrats to move closer to the center, on several fronts center-right. The hard conservative influence has tilted the entire political spectrum, because these people vote more than other demographics, they organize more, they mobilize, they create havoc, they unleash insane attacks to derail the process.

Should John McCain emerge as the nominee, it will represent a seismic shift for the Republican party. Conservatives are going ballistic at the prospects of McCain, and in so doing, are revealing themselves as the irrational, unstable ideologues that they are. The fact that, despite the howling, McCain still marches on, is a testament to the fact that a candidate doesn't necessarily need to pander to the loonie right to be successful. Conventional wisdom always held the view that it was impossible to win without this engaged demographic. Early on in the process, McCain did dabble with the right, some effort to appease, but in the end, the "maverick" continued to speak on topics which infuriated the supposed base.

What does it say now, that we have all the leading neo-cons screaming about McCain, and yet they seem powerless to stop him. The simple fact, moderates are throwing their weight around, those voters are moving in droves to McCain. In addition, Huckabee is also taking considerable heat from the likes of Limbaugh, and yet voters still respond. Polling consistently shows that McCain is the clear second choice of Huckabee voters, which is quite different from the frame that Huckabee hurts the conservative darling Romney. The two candidates that did well on Super Tuesday are both hated by the supposed powerful conservative movement.

McCain means the right has failed to hold the party hostage, its influence is waning. I take that as a great development for the overall level of discourse moving forward. A shift in the political spectrum that puts the right-wing on the sidelines, somewhat marginalized, as opposed to domination. I'm not arguing these people are gone, but their is no question they are crippled. A candidate can win without their blessing, a reality that seemed like nonsense just a few months ago.

Heading into the general, I see nothing to fear from a Republican who voluntarily brings up global warming, who resists the racist undertones of the immigration issue, who never envokes god, gays and guns. It will be a substantive debate, never a bad development in terms of process. The best part, the right will be forced to whine like babies, with full knowledge that they are largely excluded from the national debate. The obnoxious blow hards on the right have been silenced, still talking, but yielding little influence.


Steve V said...

Romney is suspending his campaign.

Scipio said...

You're abolutely right. McCain will be great for the Republican party. Republicans need to start appealing to independents again. The party can't always count on the Democrats putting forward someone like John Kerry who is completely incapable of connecting with the American people.

bigcitylib said...

I like McCain, but I think he will be constrained by his party over such issues as climate change.

Steve V said...


I'm not sure. I mean the guy keeps bringing it up, in closed primaries, to people that don't really care. I don't see the political upside for McCain on global warming with Republicans, and yet he has ran ads and voluntarily speaks at length in all his speeches. On this issue, I think McCain actually gets it.

Anonymous said...

I like McCain. I want him to win just in case the Republican's do, however, if you add Romney's vote to Huckabee's it equals McCain's. This isn't over yet.

Social conservatives now go to Huckabee. If Romney had pulled out before Feb 5th we'd have a tie race on the rep. side now too.

Chet Scoville said...

The odd thing, though, is that when you look at his voting record and his platform, he's actually one of the most conservative politicians in the United States. The "maverick" thing is largely a media creation.

Justin Socie said...

The "maverick" title has nothing to do with whether or not he is conservative; it has to do with McCain bucking the party on issues like torture, pork, Rumsfeld, global warming, immigration, etc.

Anonymous said...

On issues such as climate change, corporate donations, and pork, McCain will be helped by the fact that the Democrats will be in control of both the Senate and the House. They will be sympathetic to him. He will get things done on these progressive issues.

Huckabee may whine a bit, but McCain's first choice as a running mate is probably Joe Lieberman. Hawkish on foreign policy, but shares McCain's views on many others.

Steve V said...


I've listened to the stumps speechs many times, from all the candidates. Pretty surprising, McCain actually speaks to global warming the most, and demonstrates greater passion for that matter. With the Dems, it's just a throw in line, pretty flat. Go figure.

Miles Lunn said...

I certainly love seeing people like Anne Coulter and Rush Limbaugh go ballistic over someone who is generally quite conservative, but occasionally bucks his ideology, rather than blindly follows it come hell or high water. I think one of the problems the Republicans have faced is the need to get the Conservative vote out to win, but at the same this group is not large enough on its own to win, so they need to appeal to some moderates.

I think though that if Obama wins, some from this group may decide not to show up, but I think their hatred of Clinton is strong enough they will still vote for McCain even if they do it holding up their noses. And since it is pretty much guaranteed the Democrats will control both houses, at least a McCain presidency would get some things done, rather than have deadlock like we have now. And the Democrats controlling both houses would prevent him from going too far to the right.

I off course still want the Democrats to win, but at least it looks like the possibility of having a hard right ideologue in the White House is over and good riddance.