Q: Dr. Hurd, will you be voting for John McCain in the fall; or Hillary/Obama, as a protest; or simply sit out the election?
A: I’ll either be reluctantly voting for McCain, or sitting the election out. Under no condition will I ever vote for an explicit socialist/statist, whether an obviously diabolical one like Hillary or a “likable” one such as Obama. Whether you like the one who enslaves you or not, and whether he smiles as he places the chains on your wrists or not, slavery is still slavery–and I’m one of a shrinking minority who doesn’t want to be part of a slave state, which is what aggressive “liberals” such as Hillary and Obama seek to expand.
As for McCain, there is one overwhelming problem which will not go away: If you vote for him, you have no idea what you’ll be voting into office. The media calls him a “maverick;” I judge him as emotionally and personally unstable. At least with Bush, you knew you’d get a combination of increased domestic spending and tax cuts. That’s what “compassionate conservatism” means. McCain prides himself on being different for the sake of different, and for “reaching across the aisle” which always means: more left-wing statism enabled by the Republican in charge. Consider tax cuts. McCain opposed them back in 2001, not only for fiscal and spending reasons, but because they are “tax cuts for the rich.” These are the same arguments that left-wing socialists make against marginal rate tax cuts, which–by the way–are only small steps back in the direction of capitalism. Now McCain says he favors renewing the very tax cuts he opposed on moral principle. If you look at his website, as I recently did, you’ll find some fairly inspiring comments such as, “Entrepreneurs should not be taxed into submission.” I can warm up to a candidate who feels that the producers should not be made to submit to government. But aren’t these producers the same as the “evil rich” he morally condemned back in 2001 as unworthy of having some of their income returned to them?
The same applies to military policy. If you are an anti-terrorist hawk, such as myself, McCain would seem to be the clear alternative to dove Obama and dove-of-convenience Hillary. However, all we can really be sure about is that McCain supports the Iraq War. There’s no indication that he will do anything else other than maintain and escalate that conflict. Don’t rule out a military draft, either. Remember the 1990s? When Bill Clinton got our military involved in Bosnia, for no apparent reason other than to use the military, only John McCain still supported this war at the end, when even Bill Clinton gave up and declared victory when there was none. One of the things that bothers me most about John McCain is that he appears to recognize no military solution to anything other than conventional fighting forces–whether the use of those conventional fighting forces is justified or not. What about bombing Iran? Whatever happened to air warfare? And what about the likelihood of Iran or another Muslim state using nuclear force against us or our allies–do we fight back with nuclear weapons, or do we simply send in the troops? I get the impression that McCain simply likes war … the old-fashioned, 1950s kind. He glorifies martyrdom and self-sacrifice, and I think he really means it.
I don’t know if this is some sickness related to McCain’s trauma as a prisoner-of-war for all those years in Vietnam. I sense this man is sick, but I don’t know how sick. He looks older and more tired than his 71 years. He’s the same age as Ronald Reagan when he first became President, but he seems like a man who’s emotionally spent and who peaked some time ago. He won the Republican nomination in the weakest field of candidates for perhaps a century. He exudes the exhaustion of a man holding explosive contradictions inside, and occasionally displays the anger not of a principled man, but a man who will not be challenged as wrong. There won’t be any reliable way to know for sure about McCain’s mental health until he has a term in office. Hillary Clinton is sick as well–sick with incurable power lust, the soul of a dictator in a political system that hasn’t yet collapsed into the dictatorship that would better suit her need for power. Her symptoms have been on display for some time, yet a majority still seem willing to tolerate her as President. If she wins, they will deserve what they get.
In the end, I may still vote for McCain. How? Because he may emerge in the campaign as the anti-Hillary (or the anti-Obama). McCain, in the greatest of ironies, could emerge as the last, fragile and faltering bastion against all-out socialism, fascism and statism that the next Democratic White House and Congress have in store for us. He may make some eloquent statements against socialism and in favor of individual rights in the campaign. Given the extreme left-wing stature of his opponent, he will have every opportunity to appear as “conservative” as he wants to appear. If he does, then a vote for McCain will, to some extent, be a vote for these ideas. Do I trust him for a minute to act on these ideas once in office? Absolutely not. This man does not believe in freedom, as his support for campaign censorship (McCain-Feingold) clearly demonstrated. But in voting for a candidate who articulates better ideas, I’m at least advancing those ideas just a little–and, more powerfully, am voting against the obvious socialism and fascism of Hillary or Obama.
That’s why I voted for Bush in 2004. I knew full well that he was no advocate of capitalism, and that his marginal rate tax cuts were the only good things he would ever do economically. I knew that the ill-conceived invasion of Iraq was as far as he would ever go in fighting terrorist enemies. But in 2004, Bush was still widely perceived and identified as a hawk who wanted to destroy all terrorist regimes and who wanted the United States to become much more capitalist than it was. So I voted for him, mainly as a way to tell the terrorists that American citizens are not afraid to have a real hawk in office, even if I knew Bush was no such thing. The same may or may not apply to McCain in the fall. We’ll have to see how he articulates and presents himself in the campaign. I know he’ll be a bad President, if he wins. But I will never, ever vote for Hillary or Obama. Doing so would be a green light for unfettered socialism, fascism and statism.