While every election of the last few cycles seem to be called “the most important of our time,” the 2008 election may very well be a critical election for the future of this great nation. We have two candidates: one an eloquent speaker with scant experience and the other with a lengthy history of bipartisan accomplishment. The case for McCain is straightforward: John McCain has been tested, Barack Obama has not. McCain has had to make the hard choices that a leader must, Obama has not. In an election that puts hard-edged experience versus gauzy promises of hope, Sen. McCain offers the leadership that this country desperately needs.
The Obama campaign continues to run against a man who is not on the ballot. There is little room for doubt that the Bush Administration in profoundly unpopular, and it has dragged the Republican Party down with it. Politically, it makes sense for the Democrats to tie McCain to Bush. But outside of the world of political spin, George W. Bush and John McCain are radically different. No one can doubt that Sen. McCain has a long record of serving his country. McCain has stood on principle, even when it has put him at odds with his own party. McCain’s life experiences as a prisoner of war—something he has rarely mentioned on the campaign trail—has shaped his view of the world in a way that few can understand. John McCain has been tested in a way that few people ever have.
Sen. McCain’s record demonstrates his commitment to “putting country first.” McCain took a stand on the issue of torture, not because it was popular or politically expedient for him to do so, but because he believed that banning it was for the good of the country. He not only opposed the Bush Administration on this issue, but he pushed them towards his views. He opposed Donald Rumsfeld’s strategy in Iraq and asked for more troops at a time when it was neither popular nor politically expedient. John McCain was right about the surge before there was a surge. He stood on principle and won. On campaign finance reform, he worked with one of the most liberal members of the Senate on crafting a bipartisan solution. Whether one agrees or disagrees with McCain-Feingold, it demonstrates that McCain has reached across party lines to get things done.
McCain bucked his party on immigration. It nearly cost him the nomination, but he did so because he honestly believed it was the right policy. He has been a firm supporter of efforts to combat global warming—not because it was popular with his own party, but because he believed it to be in the national interest. That is the character of John McCain. Even if the misleading statistic of him voting with the President 90% of the time were an accurate measure, the whole of his record demonstrates a politician who has reached across the aisle time and time again. The fact that conservatives often vehemently disagree with some of these choices makes it plain that McCain is anything but a party loyalist.
Contrast this with Sen. Obama. Obama has no executive experience. He has never led anything larger than a law school classroom. Obama has not one significant legislative achievement to his name. He has never been seriously tested in a crisis. He has grown up in a political cocoon, and the media is unwilling to probe into his character or his fitness to serve. Barack Obama remains an unknown quantity, an empty vessel into which his supporters are pouring their own hopes. That is not what a President must be. A President must make the hard calls, he must take controversial stands, he must be willing to challenge the system for the good of the nation. We know that John McCain has done these things. We know that McCain can lead, and we know that he will work across the aisle for the good of the country, even at the risk of alienating his party. Do we really know that Obama would do so, or is a large segment of the electorate blindly hoping that he will?
This election should not be about blind hope. Those who put their faith in a politician will always be disappointed. In a crisis, we need someone who has demonstrated leadership. John McCain has done so, Barack Obama has not. We know that John McCain has made hard calls. We don’t know what Obama may do in a real crisis. We know that John McCain has reached across the aisle on multiple occasions to do what he felt is right. We’ve yet to see Obama stand on any principle that significantly departs from his comfortable liberal orthodoxy. John McCain is a known quantity. Barack Obama is a cipher.
In a time of crisis, this nation should not take chances. With the economic meltdown, rash government action could make the situation worse. Handing control of the government to one party is a recipe for disaster. The likely outcome of an Obama Administration and a Reid/Pelosi Congress would be unfettered left-wing experimentation. Our system of government works best when there are checks and balances—and the best way of ensuring that our government produces the best policies is through divided government. There is a reason why Congress’ approval ratings are so abysmal. Do we dare give them a rubber stamp in the White House? Can we truly trust that the results will be any better than when the Republicans had control of the government? Are the Democrats truly any less corrupt, any less viciously partisan, or any more competent than the Republican? The record suggests that they are at best no better, and in many cases worse.
This is the reason why Obama can never be the “transitional” figure that his supporters promise. McCain will have to work across the aisle to get anything done. Obama can embrace the same sense of partisan entitlement that led to the excesses of the Bush years. Would Obama conciliate to a weakened Republican Party? He would not need to do so, and there’s no political reason to do so. The vicious partisan divide in this country will not be healed by giving one side unchecked power—can one honestly expect Obama to “heal” the nation while at the same time pushing his agenda? There is little in Obama’s policies that suggest bipartisan compromise. Taking him at his word, he will shift this country dramatically to the left, which will only feed the cycle of partisanship that has polluted Washington.
John McCain has led. He has reached across the aisle. He has the experience to be President. His record is one of someone who has put country above party. In a time of turmoil, taking chances on an unknown quantity is not a smart policy. McCain is the right man for the job, and the right choice for the nation.