". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, February 1, 2008

Four Days and Counting

So tonight, with my state's primary election looming, I decided it was time to settle on a candidate. And after several hours online visiting websites and looking up policy statements and past votes and quotes on issues, I made my choice: on Tuesday I will be voting for John McCain.

If my chance to vote had come a little earlier, I would have probably gone with Fred Thompson because in spite of my reservations about his passion for the office, he was the viable candidate whose views best reflected my own. But of course Fred is out, and so is Rudy Giuliani, the other candidate to whom I was giving serious consideration. I had previously decided against both Huckabee and Paul, so that now leaves me with a choice between Romney and McCain.

I have all along been unable to enthusiastically embrace any of these Republican candidates, having doubts about all of them. Thus my indecision a mere four days before the vote. But I will admit that I have always had a "soft spot" for McCain and thus a difficult time understanding the anti-McCain passion, even hatred, that often spills from the lips of many of today's vocal conservatives.

For example, this video of Ann Coulter promising to endorse and campaign for Hillary Clinton should McCain get the nomination confirms my growing suspicion of her as a complete loose cannon and self-serving publicity hound, and I will forthwith be removing her link from my sidebar:

I just don't understand how anyone can claim that Hillary Clinton is more conservative and would be better for the country than John McCain. I also don't accept the argument that there is little difference between the two. Here are just a few issues illustrating the chasm that exists between these two frontrunners of their respective parties:

On Abortion

McCain supports overturning Roe v. Wade, voted yes on parental notification and banning partial birth abortions, and has a 0% rating from NARAL (the National Abortion Rights Action League) and a 75% rating from the NRLC (National Right to Life Committee).

Clinton supports upholding Roe v. Wade, voted no on parental notification and banning partial birth abortions, and has a 100% rating from NARAL and a 0% rating from NRLC.

On Civil Rights

McCain has a 0% rating from the ACLU, a 33% rating from the HRC and a 7% rating from the NAACP. He voted yes on banning same-sex marriage and on banning affirmative action hiring with federal funds and no on adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes. He supports an amendment against flag burning and the right of formerly Confederate states to fly the Confederate flag as a symbol of their heritage.

Clinton has a 60% rating from the ACLU, an 89% rating from the HRC and a 96% rating from the NAACP (a rating, by the way, that indicates a strongly pro-affirmative action record). She voted no on banning same-sex marriage and on recommending a Constitutional ban on flag desecration. She also voted yes on adding sexual orientation to the definition of hate crimes.

On Education

McCain supports homeschooling, charter schools, and vouchers as well as unrestricted block grants to states so school districts can decide for themselves how educational funds are best used. He has voted no on a host of educational funding initiatives such as $52 million for "21st century community learning centers" as well as on national education standards. He has a 45% rating from the NEA.

Clinton supports federally funded universal preschool. She is against educational vouchers and only supports choice for those in the public education system. She has never seen an education funding bill she didn't like and has an 82% rating from the NEA.

On Family Values

McCain has an 83% rating from the Christian Coalition; Clinton's rating from the same group is 0%.

On Free Trade

McCain has a 100% rating from CATO; Clinton's rating from the same group is 17%.

On Health Care

McCain is against mandating universal health care or insurance coverage; Clinton wants to universalize health care and pay for it with a huge tax increase.

On Iraq

McCain wants to achieve victory in Iraq; Clinton says she will begin withdrawing troops within 60 days of taking office.

On Judges

McCain says he will appoint strict constructionist judges. Clinton will not.

I could go on. All of the above information and more is available at http://www.ontheissues.org/. The site itself reflects a slight leftward bias in its use of certain descriptive words and phrases, but the factual information is detailed and extensive. And based on that information I simply don't understand how it is possible to see the two of them as birds of a feather. I understand that McCain has taken some positions on issues such as global warming, campaign finance reform, tax cuts and immigration that are unpopular with conservatives. But he has an impressive gallery of supporters, he has long fought government expansion and overspending, he supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and his record on cutting taxes certainly beats Hillary's (72% from the NTU versus her 21%). He may not walk in lock step with the country's conservative powerhouses, but a Clinton or Obama clone he is not, and I wish people would stop making that claim. And I can't for the life of me understand how any Republican would choose to sit out this election because their first choice of candidate did not win the primary. The judges that are appointed during the next term will impact the direction of our country for a generation or more, and while we can't know for certain what to expect from any president's judicial appointments (just think back to that conservative hero Ronald Reagan), I would much rather take my chances on McCain's (or Romney's or Huckabee's or Paul's) appointees than Clinton's or Obama's.

(By the way, it is interesting to note that the site linked above describes both Romney and McCain as "populist-leaning conservatives" and places them at almost the same position on its political philosophy graph. Both Clinton and Obama, on the other hand, are "hard-core liberals." And to round out the current group, you might be interested to know that Huckabee is described as a "hard-core conservative" and Paul as a "moderate libertarian.")

So why McCain and not Romney? Even though I will admit to a certain "ick" factor with reference to his Mormonism, that is not my reason for not voting for him. McCain believes in evolution, which I view as just as false a faith as Mormonism. But voting for a president is not about finding the candidate who shares your religious views; it is about finding the candidate you believe to be most capable of leading the nation and most deserving of your trust. And with McCain I have a certain level of security that he knows what he is doing and that even though I may not agree with him on all points, I can count on him to say what he thinks and to stand up for his principles even when they are not popular. There is a record there that I can look at and feel that I know what I'm getting, whereas although Romney says a lot of the right things I have with him a much stronger sense of a politician saying and doing what is necessary to win the election, whether that means changing previously held views, promising sweeping government solutions to long-existing problems, or speaking glowingly of the sunny skies and good feelings that are going to magically manifest themselves as soon as he takes office. I respect that one can have a change of heart or mind, but in Romney's case I am not comfortable with the number of such changes he has apparently experienced in recent years (two big ones that come to mind are his views on abortion and the Department of Education). I also think that given the current state of world affairs, McCain's foreign policy experience is a huge plus, and I will frankly sleep better with him in the White House. Finally, I think McCain has a much better chance of winning in November, and I believe the importance of that simply can't be ignored, especially in a situation that to my mind offers no "dream" candidate.

If you will be voting on Super Tuesday and are undecided or simply unsure about your decision, I heartily encourage you to spend some time visiting candidates' websites, looking at specifics on issues, and visiting the site above. This is what I did tonight (at long last!), and I now feel that I can vote with some conviction and a clear conscience, if not that all-encompassing enthusiasm that has been so elusive during this very long election season.


elephantschild said...

It comes down to what KIND of trust is most important to a person, and that's what I hope to get into next week.

elephantschild said...

Don't have time to write more; I'm not trying to be difficult or obtuse!

Cheryl said...

That's a really intriguing statement, EC, and as usual I will be looking forward with interest to your thoughts! But I know you have other things to do today! (Have fun!)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Cheryl. I am feeling better about the possibility of having McCain as our nominee after reading what you wrote. He is not the conservative that I long for...but I think he would make a good leader. He has been consistent.


Marie N. said...

I appreciate that you have really done your research and presented it here. There is a great site for Ohio issues I use, but it seems to be less reliable for national matters.

Hannah J said...

Thanks for the analysis over the past few weeks, Cheryl. I wasn't keeping up with the news about McCain but read some posts at other blogs doubting him and supporting Romney. This post of yours should make Super Tuesday a bit easier for me.

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Thank you Cheryl. I have been puzzled by the all out attack on McCain recently. Like you, I think I would've gone for Thompson, but I find that McCain to be the most ideal choice among who is left.

Anonymous said...

Hello sweet Cheryl!
I just accidently stumbled upon your little blog. I was enjoying what I read and feel like we agree on several issues you brought up about the candidates. I just wondered if you could please clarify one statement you made. The one about the "ick" factor about Romneys Mormonism. I don't know if you realize (or even care) but statements like that portray you as a bigot. It's your blog, your thoughts and your little world here but some clarification would be nice for me. I would like to know what exactly you meant by that statement. From what I see on your blog you consider yourself a Christian of some sort. Would Christ use such a statement against a group of people (as misinformed as you think they are) who are trying their best to worship him and lead good lives? I think he would love them and gently guide them to the correct path. I don't think calling Mormons "icky" is Christlike or very mature for that matter. Sorry to sound judgemental. When I hear people comfortably making statements like this about my faith it makes me soooo happy that Romney dropped out yesterday (I did not vote for him by the way). I know the Mormon bashing thing would only get worse than it already is. The truth is it's wrong and hurtful. If you want to respond please do so by personal e-mail. I will not be commenting on your blog again.

Cheryl said...


I don't know if you will be back to read this, but just in case . . . I can't respond to you via personal email because I don't know what that email address is. You write as if you know me and I know you, and perhaps we do know each other, but I'm sorry to say that right now I can't place your identity. So if you would like to "talk" further I invite you to email me directly.

Since I can't email you, I will go ahead and try to briefly respond to your concern--you seem most bothered by my use of the word "ick" to describe Romney's Mormonism--I'm sorry if that word offends you (maybe I could have expressed myself better, but this is a journal after all and I don't spend lots and lots of time second-guessing my word choice), but it was basically a quick means of expressing my belief that the Mormon faith includes false teaching. And I don't think that it makes me a bigot to say so anymore than it makes me a bigot to say I think the evolutionists are wrong or the Democrats are wrong or the environmentalists are wrong or the Catholics are wrong. I think all of the above have "icky" elements to them, along with brussel sprouts and bell-bottom pants and those ugly Hummers. But I don't hate evolutionists or Catholics or Democrats (my mom is a Democrat and a Catholic and I love her dearly, but I will also tell her when I think she's wrong about something) or Mormons or Mitt Romney (I actually think he's quite cool) or people who wear bell bottoms, and I don't think my blog has at any time sent a message of hatred about anything or anyone. And that is what I have always understood bigotry to be--hatred that is directed towards an entire group or against a member of a group based on his or her inclusion in that group.

Sorry if my sentences are rather run-on in nature--it's late and I'm tired and off to bed now. If you want to continue the discussion off-blog it will have to be at your initiation, because as I said I'm not sure who you are (if I should know, I'm really sorry!).

Anonymous said...

"Jennifer" -

Do you know how many Jennifers Cheryl and I know?! Your lack of transparency makes one wonder if you aren't just someone trolling the net rather than someone we really know...

But whether you are a freind or a stranger, let me help 'clarify a couple of things for you, since you asked:

"ick" - distatestful, unappealing, unattractive. ("That dress is icky!")

Mormonism - a religion that is not Christian yet claims to be Christian. It violates the Scriptural injunction against adding to the New Testament canon, and elevates new scriptures (proven to be inauthentic, by the way) over and above the Bible. Frankly, that's pretty unappealling! (for starters)

And what DID Jesus have to say about good people who added to the Word, tried their best to worship God, and, above all, sought to be 'good' people? Well, for starters, how 'bout "brood of vipers"! (Yet the Pharisees were the very pious and most of them were no doubt sincere!)

So, now that that is clear, let me address your accuasation of 'bigotry':

Bigotry is a pretty strong accusation, Jennifer. We don't hate Mitt Romney. I voted for his slate of delegates on the GOP ballot! BUT, to use Cheryl's very mild term, we do find Mormonism to be 'icky'. Indeed, any religion of works rather than of the Gospel is icky - because it leads people away from the one thing needful: Christ crucified for their sin!

At the end of the day, I don't think Mormonism disqualifies anyone from serving any more than it disqualifies someone else whose religion is merely a collection of myths that inform their moral choices in life and/or is viewed as one of many valid "paths" to God. Bush's Christianity seems to be about as shallow, unfortunately, and, indeed, few politicians make a good confession of "the faith once delivered to the saints." But as much as I'd like to have more Christians in public life, I don't hold a religious test for public office. As Romney himself kept saying, "I'm running for President, not for pastor". So I agree with Luther, who said "I'd rather be governed by a wise Turk than a dumb Christian!"

But any candidate who is prominently a member of a religious movement that runs counter to the Gospel is going to be less appealing to confessional Lutherans. Just like Hucakbee has got to be less appealing to Jews, for example. (And yet he has many orthodox Jewish supporters, who just accept that they don't care for, or agree with, his strong SBC beliefs.)

But if it makes you feel better, know that I find Obama's church to be even more icky than Romney's. And while Hillary's denomination is less icky (UMC), her church is VERY icky. Indeed, most religions are icky in my book!

I know it's dreadfully old-fashioned of me, but I just don't find all religions to be equally yummy. Neither did Peter! (John 6)

Hope that helps - and thanks for reading Cheryl's wonderful blog!

In Christ,

phil (Cheryl's dh)