Monday, February 11, 2008

The Danger of John McCain: Why Progressives NEED to Line Up Behind the Democratic Nominee

Given that McCain has pretty much wrapped up the Republican nomination, I thought it was about time I wrote my thoughts about the man. Well truth be told, I think the man would a terrible President that at best would be marginally better than George Bush and at worst could leave the world (and the U.S. at home and abroad) in much worse shape than Bush did. Here’s a list of reasons why all progressives should be throwing their support behind whoever the Democratic nominee ends up being:

1) I don’t care what Coulter and Limbaugh say, McCain is NOT A MODERATE. His record in the Senate has been VERY conservative. His lifetime rating by the American Conservative Union is a very high 83 (see here). To give some context, everyone said Fred Thompson was very Conservative, yet his score is only 3 points higher (see here), while real Republican moderates like Arlen Spector get a score of 42 and Hillary and Obama both score under 10. That alone should tell you just the starkly different policies the Democratic candidates would put in place compared to McCain. But there’s many more reasons why McCain would be a progressive’s nightmare…

2) Justice Stevens (the most liberal judge on the SC) will almost certainly retire in the next term. McCain has vowed to only appoint pro-life judges. Thus, you could very likely see Roe V. Wade overturned with a McCain Presidency which would lead to about 30 states criminalizing abortion. So there’s a lot at stake for women’s rights here.

3) McCain would undermine the UN with his plan for a parallel “League of Democracies” (see here). This would starve the UN of funding and undermine its legitimacy. At a time when conflict is rising in the Middle East this is the last thing we need, as this organization would effectively cut out that entire region (though I bet Pakistan gets to qualify as a “democracy” under McCain’s plan). It would be repeating the mistakes of the failed League of Nations by excluding key countries from the dialogue. I think the UN has gone a long way towards preventing a Third World War and McCain’s plan would be a huge step backward.

4) McCain has been the most fervent backer of going to War in Iraq and openly says he’s fine with the U.S. being there for another 100 years.

5) McCain has openly stated that the U.S. may need to bomb Iran, thus creating a possibly even more disastrous war.

6) McCain firmly believes in the Mike Harris doctrine: cut taxes and slash spending much more deeply. The poorest Americans would suffer even more greatly under John McCain then they have under George Bush as McCain is much more committed to balanced budgets and vowed to accomplish them almost solely through slashing spending. The Bush tax cuts were bad policy and yet McCain wants to extend them through and take out the lost revenue on the poor.

7) McCain will almost certainly select an even MORE conservative running mate. The only reason the fanatics on the right make noise about McCain is because of his stances on immigration (where he stood with Bush anyway), global warming, torture, and campaign finance reform. McCain has not swayed from the Conservative dogma on any other issue that I know of, but the aforementioned ones are so important to Conservatives they will press him hard to pick someone even more Conservative then he is because McCain cannot afford to have them sit out the election (after all Bush would not have won in 2004 without them). McCain himself may not run again in 2012 so that would make his VP the front-runner for the Republican nomination then. Do we want to accord an even stauncher Conservative the benefits of incumbency in 2012 or even 2016?

8) McCain has gone back on virtually every modestly progressive stance he ever took.
- He opposed Bush’s tax cuts, now he wants to extend them even though that would plunge the US into further debt and deficit or mean drastic cuts to social programs.
- He criticized Jerry Falwell and the religious right in 2000, yet this year he spoke at their universities and courted them heavily.
- He stood up for immigration reform (though even then his position was similar to Bush’s), now he says he’ll just focus primarily on border security.
- He once supported gay marriage, now he's firmly opposed to it.
- He stood firm against torture, but then caved and voted for a bill that would allow the Bush administration to define what torture really was (thus waterboarding may be continuing even though McCain says he opposes it).

You could say McCain just went back on his earlier positions to win over Conservatives in the primaries, but isn’t his whole appeal that he’s “principled”. Don’t all these reversals fly in the wind of that?

The only credit I give McCain is for his stances on campaign finance reform and global warming as he is to the left of his party on these issues for sure, but even then both Hillary and Obama have more sensible and progressive stances on these issues as well. On the vast majority of issues he is as just as, or much more, Conservative than Stephen Harper so it concerns me when I read or hear from Liberals thinking about supporting McCain or Hillary supporters saying they can't support Obama or vice-versa. You have to think how would John McCain really represent a step forward after George W. Bush? Doesn't the USA and the world need a radical departure from where Bush has been taking it?

So I’d be curious to hear from any progressive thinking of supporting McCain. Why?

Even though Canadian bloggers aren’t going to have a big impact on the influence the U.S. outcome, some of us have U.S. readers and some Liberals have gone down South to campaign so we aren’t irrelevant to what happens down there and what happens in this election will influence Canada and the rest of the world. That’s why I’ll continue to write about it and that’s why I am really hoping all progressives can get behind the Democratic nominee because the stakes are high and Canada and the world cannot afford John McCain as President.

Now you don’t just need a negative reason to support the Democrats, both Hillary and Obama have reasonably progressive platforms that would bring the USA at least somewhat closer to how Canada operates and the vision the Liberal Party of Canada represents. They support universal health care, a strong plan to combat global warming, campaign finance reform, a better code of ethics in Washington, and a saner foreign policy. They’ve got a long way to go though and I think we’ll need at least 12 years of the Democrats in office before the damage of the Bush administration is even remotely undone. McCain unfortunately would be just a basic continuation of the last 8 disastrous years.

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Erik said...

True progressives don't line up behind corporatists either

Danielle Takacs said...

I think that's a simplistic label to apply to either Hillary or Obama. So then you think it would be better to sit out the election or vote Nader and let someone 10 times more Conservative than the Democratic candidate win?

I might remind you that even very left wing people like Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore lined up behind John Kerry in 2004 and both Clinton and Obama's platforms are much more progressive than Kerry's was. Those individuals saw the need for change back then and the need for change is even greater now and only the Democratic party nominee would bring any real change to the U.S.

There are many problems with a two party system, but that can't be changed for a long time to come and there's too much at stake to be advocating sitting out this election or voting for a 3rd party candidate who can't be President.

Erik said...

There are many problems with a two party system, but that can't be changed for a long time to come

To the point, I like that. But I hear nothing about changing the system in the media. As long as people participate in this madness of the so-called democratic elections of the US, we will not see any change either.

I might remind you that even very left wing people like Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore lined up behind John Kerry

And what good did that do? Nothing. I guess this supports my point.

I think that's a simplistic label to apply to either Hillary or Obama.

Obama and Hillary are corporatists,. I don't label them that way, I just state a fact.

I think it's simplistic to think that supporting democrats over republicans will save the world from all evil.


Danielle Takacs said...

I don't want to go back and forth forever, but first of all, you say it's a fact Hillary and Obama are corporatists, yet you don't define what that means or give any examples.

As for your second point of "what good did that do" for Chomsky and Moore to support Kerry. You could say the same about Nader's or any third party candidate's run, their vote shrares declined from 2000 so "what good did that do?" Just because Kerry didn't win doesn't mean he wasn't a vastly better candidate than Bush and worthy of support from anyone who wasn't right-wing.

It boggles my mind that you think it would not make a huge difference whether a Democrat or Republican won in November. Just to give a few examples of why it matters which party runs the White House.

- Would the world not be a better place if the Iraq war was never waged? (Remember Obama and Al Gore were prominent Democrats that opposed it from the beginning)

- Would the USA not be a better place with universal health care than if they kept to the status quo?

- Is the USA not better off with abortion rights protected now under Roe V. Wade then if they were overturned?

- Would the world not be better off if the U.S. finally starting taking global warming seriously?

- Would the world not be better if the U.S. took a more multilateral approach in foreign affairs compared to the current unilateral one?

- Was the United States not much more respected in the world under Bill Clinton than under George W. Bush?

It seems you strive for perfection and that's just not realistic. You can wish for other options, but the real choice is clear, a continuation of the Bush policies (or possibly worse) with John McCain or a real step forward in the right direction with a Democratic candidate that would work towards universal health care, a multilateral foreign policy, finally combating global warming, curbing the role of lobbyists in Washington, and protecting women's rights by not appointing Conservative ideologues to the Supreme Court.

I don't know if any of the above things matter to you though as you seem to want perfection or nothing it seems. I never said it would save the world if the Democrats won, but you can't tell me it wouldn't make a huge difference.

Erik said...

examples of corporatism:
- Obama
- Clinton
- More recent forms of US corporatism


- Clinton voted for the war in Iraq

- Obama's war in Pakistan (2:30)

Health Care

- Obama health insurance isn't "universal"


- Clinton has always been against abortion, while McCain has proclaimed several times that women needthe current abortion laws.

Global Warming

- McCain already "rapped" Bush 4 years ago on global warming.


- McCain is all for multi-lateral (Spiegel)

George Bush

- There's only one George Bush, but there are many corporatists...

Voting for a corporatist is not a step forward, it's another step on the road to fascism. Greenhouse gases, sub-prime mortgage crisis, privatization of social security, torture, water-boarding, it all flourished under the eyes of Democrats and Republicans such as John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and most of all George Bush.

I don't know if any of the matter above matters to you, but if does, you wouldn't have sought for support of Obama or Clinton.

All of these corporatists don't need our support - they need a sceptical investigation by the media, including bloggers such as you and I.

I DON'T support John McCain, but neither am I going to "support" the others discussed.

My support lies with those who are working on real change.

Noam Chomsky did support Kerry. And Kerry supported the War in Iraq: neither were right.

I suppose it was a mistake from Chomsky, a mistake that normally only realists would make.

Jason Cherniak said...

Very, very interesting. That gives me a lot to think about as a person who thought McCain wasn't that bad.

Erik said...

Jason Cherniak will be lining up behind McCain no matter what he's thinking about; how much they both love bombing Arabs.