Every conservative faction has its reasons for being less than fully satisfied with McCain, but we’d do well to get our complaints out of our systems now and, however glumly, vote for him against the Democrat in November.
He at least recognizes the problem of excessive government spending — the core issue from my perspective — while both Clinton and Obama (not to mention Edwards, should that populist gasbag ambulance-chaser find his way onto the ticket) think that “change!!” = more government, which is not only socially destructive but is indeed no change at all, since government growth (and attendant withering of the private sector, civil society, and individual responsibility) has been the norm for at least a century now and is not sustainable. That’s not to say McCain will be “good,” just in all likelihood “slightly better” — and there are no guarantees of even that, just a more reasonable roll of the dice.
I would not be terribly surprised, though, if some of my crypto-left-sympathizing libertarian acquaintances, who not-coincidentally tend to be in the profoundly leftism-saturated, insular world of academia, were tempted to find some excuse to declare the Democrat’s election preferable to McCain’s. These same left-sympathizing libertarians were really fond of the idea of “gridlock” — one party controlling the White House, the other Congress — just two years ago, though, so presumably now that the Democrats control Congress (and are behaving as badly as expected, from everything I’ve seen), they will be consistent and root for McCain for president.
So, despite all the disappointments and intrigue of the primary season, I would expect that pretty much all non-socialists, given the likely options, will soon be on the same page, rooting for McCain, depressing as it may seem that it’s come to this.
As I said long ago, though, one consolation in having McCain be president is his obvious (relative) indifference to the religious right, that faction so often seen as the source of trouble over the past eight years (though there were many sources and many troubles).
Sometimes religion is a tool of resisting the state (or, more directly, a means of shaping a decent and orderly life without recourse to the state), as was arguably the case more often than not during the twentieth century.
(a) progressives (such as Clinton and Obama) are once again, as they were a century ago, often driven by a quasi-religious zeal — and at times by a genuine “religious left” impulse — rather than by mid-century economic “rationality” and “planning”;
(b) conservatives’ religiosity, under Bush, has become a bulwark to their statist tendencies, not their (dwindling) anti-statist tendencies; and
(c) our major external enemy is religious rather than anti-religious in its motivation, a switch to which we have still not fully adjusted psychologically or culturally (the phrase “godless Communism” somehow strikes us as a more natural epithet for a foe than “godful Islamic extremists,” though the latter is actually a better summation of motivations than ever the first was — there were religious communists, after all, as in Latin America [where ostensibly pro-Catholic and communist Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega has recently noted his preference for an Obama victory], while secular Muslims are, for the most part, not a danger).
So for all my temptation to whine about McCain’s shortcomings (while other conservative factions each whine about him for its own different reasons, such as his admittedly awful positions on issues ranging from campaign reform to global warming), I must confess that “secular + budget-cutting” is not such a bad summary of what I want. Pragmatist that I am, then, I do not plan to spend the next nine months whining if it looks like I have a chance to get that via McCain’s election — and his picking a running mate other than Huckabee the (ethically-dubious) preacher would be a crucial indicator. If I’m not going to whine, though, neither do I plan to spend the next nine months cheerleading, so tomorrow let us resume this blog’s month-long religion/atheism discussion, and then we move on to whole new topic areas…