The Case for John McCain

With a heavily-Democratic Congress waiting on the wings, McCain’s hodgepodge of domestic policy proposals doesn’t have much chance of getting implemented, so divided government is probably the best justification for supporting a third Republican term (assuming you share my libertarian inclinations).

Unfortunately, one of the biggest reasons I’ve grown disenchanted with the Republican Party of late is their awful track record on foreign policy. This leaves me in a bit of a quandary, as McCain is undoubtedly one of the more aggressive proponents of American hegemony, and Congress possesses very little formal oversight in the realm of foreign affairs.

There is a reasonable case to be made that McCain’s ideological history is quite a bit more complicated than his reflexive hawkishness would suggest, and that circumstances may moderate his approach once he assumes office (Perhaps Bush’s recent foreign policy makeover foreshadows a McCain Administration?). McCain’s evident discomfort with ideological labels also implies he’d be willing to break ranks with Republican orthodoxy. After all, isn’t his reputation for opportunistically carefully reconsidering certain positions at the core of his “maverick” appeal?

But I’ve always been suspicious of “faith-based” politics, particularly when the candidate in question is so willing to pander to conservative jingos on the stump.  Silly political posturing is particularly dangerous because it imposes certain constraints on the candidates’ future policy decisions. If McCain does manage to get elected on the strength of a revived right-wing base, will he really risk arousing conservative ire by embracing a more pragmatic foreign policy? McCain’s relationship with the Republican Party has always been fraught with tension, so I hesitate to place my faith in his willingness to moderate his stance on the one set of issues where he’s largely in sync with the Republican base.

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2 Comments

Filed under Conservatism, Foreign Policy, Libertarianism, Presidential Politics

2 responses to “The Case for John McCain

  1. jacob1207

    I recently blogged on this same topic, divided government, and how it might be a rationale for supporting McCain. It raises some other points that you may be interested in, and your readers as well:

    http://jacob1207.wordpress.com/2008/09/19/divided-government/

  2. mw

    I have been beating the divided government drum for two years on my blog. I voted for John Kerry to get divided government in 2004 and lost. I supported a straight Dem ticket in 2006 to get divided government and won. This year I will vote to re-elect divided government by supporting John McCain.

    This scholarly article from a Constitutional lawyer puts more than a little academic cred behind the divided government thesis.

    Anyway, Will – FWIW I recently initiated a “Coalition of the Divided” blogroll for anyone who says anything vaguely positive about divided government. You are now a member in good standing.

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