27 February 2008

Election #2: John McCain

The Objectivist
Dunkirk-Fredonia Observer
February 24, 2008

For conservatives and libertarians, voting for Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is like hearing nails on a blackboard. He grates on you. Here are some areas for concern.

First, his record on taxes is mixed. While his record on taxes has at times been good (in 2006 the National Taxpayers Union gave him an A), there have been real signs of a leftist worldview. He voted against President Bush’s tax cuts in 2001 and 2003, parroting the Democratic line that they were tax cuts for the rich. This is disturbing both because it is a lie and because it indicates that he doesn’t recognize taxes are just too damn high. In 2003, he voted to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for more welfare, this time in the form of federal spending on education. He still refuses to sign a pledge not to raise taxes.

Second, his record on judges has been disturbing. In the past, he voted for hard-left Justice Ginsburg, knowing full well that she would be a hard-left vote on the closely divided Court. When the Democrats began to filibuster President Bush’s judicial nominees, particularly those who resemble Supreme Court standouts Thomas and Scalia, Republicans threatened to change Senate rules allowing filibusters of judicial nominees. McCain led the Gang of 14, a group of fourteen Senators including seven Democrats, who protected the judicial filibuster. In doing so, the Republicans in the group stabbed conservatives in the back. The weakness of Republican Senators is precisely how Republicans end up selecting people like Justice Souter, a reliable hard-left vote, and Justice Kennedy, a wishy-washy swing vote.

Third, McCain’s record on immigration has been abysmal. Along with Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA), he co-sponsored a bill giving amnesty to the 12-20 million illegal immigrants. An amnesty would result in an ungodly amount of welfare being paid out. Robert Rector of the Heritage Institute estimates that each low-skilled immigrant household costs the taxpayers roughly $20,000 and $1.2 million over a lifetime (2004 figures). This is significant because 50-60% of illegal aliens lack a high school degree and individuals lacking such a degree head about a third of these households. In addition, a recent study by the Pew Research Center estimates that between 2005 and 2050, new immigrants and their children will account for 82% of the population growth. This will result in a 45% increase in the size of the population (from 303 to 438 million). Does anyone seriously think this is good for current Americans, their children, or the environment?

His sponsorship was no fluke. Earlier he fought against a border fence that would have helped to secure U.S. borders. In 2004, Arizona voters passed Proposition 200, which required proof of citizenship before an individual could vote or receive state benefits. McCain was among the bill’s most visible opponents.

Fourth, his record on free speech will live in infamy. The McCain-Feingold Act tore into the heart of the First Amendment. The bill aimed to accomplish a couple of goals. One goal was to remove the role of soft money. Soft money is money that political parties spend in support of candidates and that is not subject to the contribution limits that characterize money given directly to candidates’ campaigns. A second goal was to shut down the ability of labor unions and corporations to put out sham issue ads. These were ads that mention a federal candidate within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election.

When McCain-Feingold passed, it raised concerns with regard to private groups like Moveon.org and the Wisconsin Right to Life who express their views on issues and candidates without satisfying the campaign contribution limits (which would sharply reduce their voice) and disclosure requirements. The interpretation of McCain-Feingold will either restrict their ability to do so, which constitutes limits on political speech, or gut the act’s purpose, which is to lessen the role of money in politics.

In passing McCain-Feingold, Congress and the President, along with a block of the Supreme Court allowed the government to restrict free speech. To see why this is a restriction, imagine that McCain and his fellow do-gooders prohibited newspapers (including the New York Times) from spending more than $50,000 on an issue. This would obviously restrict newspapers’ freedom of expression because it would directly curtail their ability to get out their message. This act does the same for other private groups. McCain’s flippant response, “[I] would rather have a clean government than one where, quote, First Amendment rights are being respected.”

Fifth, his foreign policy views are scary. He has been foursquare for the war in Iraq and mentioned a desire to stay in there “for a hundred years.” His public statements on Iran paint a worrisome picture of an interventionist who might start a second war against Iran in order to prevent them from getting nuclear weapons. As Pat Buchanan points out, President Bush has caused trouble with Russia with our interventionist policies. He’s put NATO bases on the Russia’s doorstep. McCain’s rhetoric suggests he would cause even more trouble. Picking a fight with the Russian bear courts disaster.

Sixth, on social issues, McCain is half nanny, half jack-booted thug. His nanny-state campaigns show up in his view that no issue is too small for the government to address. He led a campaign to ban a private martial arts competition, the Ultimate Fighting Championship, because it offended him. He succeeded in getting the competition and ones like it regulated by the states. He pushed for federal involvement in investigating baseball in steroids and advocated hasher penalties for athletes using steroids. His jack-booted thug ideas include his push for compulsory national service during peacetime. In thinking that government force should be used to make young Americans serve others (this in addition to the 35% or more they will pay in taxes), McCain shows that he has no understanding what it means to live in a free country.

Seven, despite his repeated assertions of his own integrity and honesty, McCain has welcomed a plethora of conflicts of interests and is a standard-issue liar. In the late 1980’s, McCain was a member of the Keating Five. They were a group of five Senators whom the Senate Ethics Committee criticized for their having interceded on behalf of a campaign contributor (Charles Keating) who lavished them campaign contributions. Also, former lobbyists occupy a number of leading positions in McCain’s campaign. They include his campaign manager, chief political advisor, senior advisors, and top fundraising official. A former lobbyist also serves as his Senate chief of staff. None of this is illegal, but for someone who publicly frets about the roll of lobbyists in politics, the stench of hypocrisy is overwhelming. As George Will and Ann Coulter pointed out, on the campaign trail McCain repeatedly lied about Mitt Romney’s statements in this campaign and about George W. Bush in the last.

Conservatives and libertarians are thus left with an ugly choice. McCain’s likely opponent, Barack Obama (D-IL) will likely push harder to raise taxes (he’ll likely raise income taxes, capital gains, dividend taxes, and estate taxes), socialize medicine (the government already accounts for 47% of all money spent on medicine), provide amnesty for illegal aliens, and strengthen race preferences. Obama will likely have an interventionist policy in the mode of President Clinton’s many humanitarian missions and the war against Serbia. On the other hand, Republican members of Congress act more like conservatives when they face a Democratic President rather than a Republican one. In addition, if McCain gets elected this will encourage other candidates to govern from the left and then run for office paying lip service to right (see, e.g., Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and George W. Bush). All in all, conservatives are probably better off with a lesser evil like McCain. But a lesser evil is still an evil.


The Objectivist said...

The record of a number of war-hero and military Presidents is pretty dysma.

JFK and Nixon should have done jailtime for the various illegal behavior, Carter was a disgrace, and Bush I failed miserably at keeping the Reagan revolution alive. Bush II failed in every area of governance: liberty, economy, and foreign policy.

One reason for this is likely that too many of these people think that America is great because people work together in national projects that involve government coercion.

It takes someone like Reagan to recognize the value of liberty and economic freedom, not worship at the alter of military service.

A second reason probably relates to the fact that the military doesn't emphasize liberty (with good reason given the need for tight coordination), but this is precisely what this country is about.

The Objectivist said...

Given the presence of Ted Stevens, Arlen Spector, Orrin Hatch, and the rest of the Republican Senatorial hacks, there is a real fear that Republicans will combine with McCain to "get things done," which means expansion of the welfare state.

Evidence for this is how the Republican Congress passed the Medicare drug expansion, steel tariffs, Patriot Act, and were childlike in their refusal to question or challenge the entrance into and conduct of the war.

They seem to show some spine when facing a Democratic President. This alone might make it better than Obama get elected.

The Constructivist said...

Hmm, maybe this explains my little brother's logic when he said he'd vote for Obama over McCain. And he's been a Republican since he was 6 and wrote a letter to the editor of our local paper, which prompted the John Birch Society to offer him membership.

The Objectivist said...

I knew it. I just knew it. The constructivist has some Republican genes.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Constructivist said...

Nope, my bro is clearly the product of a random mutation somewhere....