Because life is a series of edits

The What and Why of How I’m Voting on Tuesday

In Politics on November 1, 2008 at 7:29 am

In response to my previous post about bonding with Barry, a friend emailed to ask how I see things differently from Obama. Here’s his question:

“What do you disagree strongly about? I’m genuinely curious, meaning, your answers could shape my opinion because I value your insight. I’m probably going to vote for him, mostly because of how much I feel/think about McCain and I do not believe Palin would be qualified to take over the Presidency if need be. I’m still open to voting for a third option candidate though.”

As I had planned to write an endorsement post anyway, here it is. Please understand: my attempt here is not to try to aggressively convince anybody one way or the other; I’m just responding honestly to the question. I’m honored some might actually care what I think, so for what it’s worth, here’s where I stand (note: if you’re interested, here’s where Megan stands).

Full disclosure: I consider myself a “little c” fiscal/social conservative with libertarian leanings. I’m registered as a Republican and I voted for Ron Paul in the primary. Reluctantly, I’m planning to vote for the McCain/Palin ticket on Tuesday, though if Ron Paul were running as a third-party candidate, I would vote for him again for the same reasons as before.

As mentioned in my previous post, I very much appreciate Obama’s intellect and inspiration, not to mention his youth and energy. For me, the experience (or lack thereof) of either Obama as President or Sarah Palin as Vice- is a moot point; no candidate is ever ready to be President. Even for John McCain or Joe Biden, executive office will be very different from their legislative roles in the Senate, so we’re going to get a novice regardless of who wins.

Having said that, my biggest concerns in this election have less to do with the candidates’ experience and more to do with their ideology on the following:

  1. the size, function, and presence of government in our lives
  2. the balance of power divided among the White House, Senate, and House of Representatives
  3. the interpretive bias and make-up of the Supreme Court

Obama’s governmental approach borders on (if not crosses over into) pure socialism, with the government playing an even larger, more active, and omnipresent role than even it is right now. Unfortunately, government grew enormously under George Bush in the past eight years, but not all growth was intentional; I think of 9/11, two wars (one of which we should never have entered), and huge natural disasters as surprises rather than strategies to grow government. Obama’s policies, however, call for calculated government expansion, which doesn’t line up with my libertarian leanings.

Would McCain do any better on the government question? I don’t know, especially when I have rarely heard him talk much about cutting spending, which is a major key to keeping government small. I do believe, though, that McCain’s default ideology as to the purpose of government lends itself to less government more than Obama’s does, so on that basis, I have to vote for McCain.

With regard to the balance of power, the fact that an Obama win would most likely lead to a Democrat-led White House, Senate, and House of Representatives runs against what I understand the desires of the Founding Fathers to be when they framed the Constitution. Obama might be capable enough in the Oval Office, but the current leadership of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi in the Senate and House respectively has been atrocious in terms of partisanship played, meaningful legislation passed, and record-low ratings of Congress in general.

Would all this improve if all three leaders were of the same political party? One could argue it might by streamlining Congressional votes with no fear of Presidential vetoes, but again the ideology driving their thinking on moral issues like stem cell research, gay marriage, and continued protection of the unmitigated right to abortion (to name a few) becomes the bigger issue for me. Just because legislation might speed through the House, Senate, and White House does not make it good legislation. I can’t do much to affect the House and Senate at this point, but I can cast a vote that might affect the White House; thus, I will be voting for McCain.

Legislation is one thing; legislation’s interpretation in our highest courts is another. If you were to ask me who the ten most powerful people in our United States government were, my answer would be the President and our nine Supreme Court justices. Of these ten, the President (who serves a maximum of eight years) appoints members of the Court (who may serve as many as 30-40 years). At this point in history, the next President may have the opportunity to appoint as many as three justices to life terms in the Supreme Court, which could significantly shift the ideological make-up of the court in an enormous way.

The difference between justices who would interpret the law independent of their own views and those who would impose their own philosophies upon the document they are sworn to uphold is vitally important to the rule of law. Why? Because the next decade is going to play host to an onslaught of judicial decisions on a myriad of ethical questions pertaining to definitions of life, death, marriage, human rights, and religious freedoms. I do not want judges jettisoning the concept of original authorial intent when interpreting the law; I want judges sensing their responsibility to it. Conservative Presidents tend to appoint candidates more constructionist than activist in their understanding of their Supreme Court role, so I will be voting for McCain.

In reading through this, some could argue I am voting against Obama rather than for McCain. The critique is valid, but not invalidating. We vote for and against all kinds of things in our daily lives – what authors to read (or not read), what talking heads to listen to (or not listen to), what principles to live by (or not live by) – and this Presidential vote is no different. We all must make decisions, and rare is the one that isn’t comprised of a hybrid of reasons for and against.

Thus, for the ideological reasons listed above, I will be voting against Barack Obama and for John McCain for President of the United States of America on Tuesday. If you’ve yet to decide and are asking for my counsel, I would urge you to do the same.

(Note: It’s been almost a year since I wrote Poli-Sigh: Political Views of the Younger Generation for byFaith magazine. It’s interesting to read the piece a year later, days away from the election. If you didn’t get a chance to read it the first time, take a look.)

  1. when it all boils down, i see that we agree on the final issues of this election. amazing! and you express it so much more concisely too:)
    interms of charisma, “barry” has it all over mccain but that is like choosing your favorite christmas present based on the wrapping! in my experience, that has never been a good idea.
    great article. i might not have agreed with you at your age, but based on past presidential experience over the years, these are the 3 issues it has boiled down to for me now. m

  2. Very well thought-out and written. I’m still not decided to vote for McCain, but I can definitely appreciate your points.

  3. Who’d have thunk that our politics were so similar? I was saddened to have lost my only chance to vote for my choice for President because I happened to be in the hospital, having recently been delivered of young Master Markov. I so wish Ron Paul had made it past the primary!

  4. hmmm… i’m not taking the bait. :-)

  5. excellent post, craig. i appreciate your clarity & thoroughness of thought. you & i came out of a similar thought process with different answers. as a matter of conscience, i couldn’t get past the “lesser of two evils” mentality.

    i voted third party, hoping to lend it some legitimacy and though i disagree with bob barr on some issues (not to mention his opportunist candidacy) i disagree with him and the Libertarian platform far less than the two major parties.

    my vote already in the bag, i’m still wrestling with the pragmatism of voting as i did (or for mccain) versus the principle of voting for whomever i belive to be the best candidate, regardless of their vegas odds of a victory.

  6. Tyler, I read Webb’s piece yesterday when it came out. The only fault I found with it was he seemed to present the idea that our consciences are neutral and fully trustworthy, which is not true. Other than that, I appreciated what he said. It’s your vote to cast; no need to justify things to me. Contrary to what Travis and Ed presume, I’m not looking for an argument one way or the other here. Glad you voted.

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