Home > Leftovers > How McCain lost this independent

How McCain lost this independent

Get ready… I’m probably going to ramble… First, some background. Believe it or not (given my rants on this site over the past three years), I’m still a registered Republican. It’s not that I view myself as a Republican, but when I registered to vote in 1989, they were the party in power… the party of my grandfather, the man I most admired… and the party whose ideals most closely aligned with my 18-year-old wannabe Alex P. Keaton self.

My time at UNC led to the inevitable broadening of my horizons, but I never truly gave up on the Republican ideal of smaller government and more free market. OK, it did crack a bit in 1994 with the Contract with America hullabaloo, and the 1996 campaign where Bob Dole’s ancient butt was the best they could do… that was hard to reconcile. The GOP became much more defined by the “O” part, and it was increasingly run by conservative Christians who kept acting in the most un-Christian ways.

But with a wife from Texas and some inside knowledge on W., I was looking forward to good things from him in 2000. I voted for the guy, and I’ve regretted it almost every day since. The same things that made him an effective governor (namely, a willingness to listen on most issues – besides the death penalty) were completely lost within months of reaching Washington. He pushed aside the moderates (the Colin Powell-type guys I admired) and went with the neo-cons.  His values were completely shoved aside by the paradigm-scrambling 9/11 events. He never recovered. Neither did the Republican party.

When W. launched his new foreign relations strategy – the preemptive war – that was my idealogical break with him and the entire GOP. How a country that had to get dragged kicking and screaming into two World Wars would voluntarily start the war in Iraq is beyond me. You can’t just attack a country because you think it’s looking at you funny. That’s what the USSR did with Afghanistan, and we lost our shit. That’s what Russia did with Georgia, and again, more shit-losing.  We are obliged as the lone remaining superpower to use our power effectively.  We did not.  And we’re paying for it, with over 3000 dead GIs.  Trillions invested in that country. And the near-complete loss of political capital around the world.

Bear in mind, I didn’t defect to the Democratic side in 2003, because they just rolled over and didn’t fight Iraq hard enough (except for a few – keep that in mind for later). I was a man without a party. Because I was too lazy to change my voter registration, I became an independent in my head and my heart. Somehow, I slept better.

Now, it’s 2008 and I’ve been watching events closely. I like Obama because, let’s face it, he is a breath of fresh air. Maybe it’s because after 8 years of watching Bush struggle to form sentences, I can appreciate an eloquent, skilled communicator. Maybe it’s because the Republicans have been in charge for the past 8 years, and all I’ll remember of this decade thus far are horrible, negative things. Katrina. 9/11. Gas prices. An Iraq war that lasted longer than the World Wars. Two recession-like downturns.

Need a personal example?  When I was stuck in Houston in 2005 with my family as Hurricane Rita roared towards us, I was frantic to get out. Only when I landed back in North Carolina did I figure out why. I didn’t trust the government to help us. Bush and company seemed to view the federal government as a place where things might get done.  Brownie can run the Arabian Horse Association, so let’s put him in charge of FEMA. That whole episode – the images from New Orleans – scared the bejeezus out of me.

But, I held my options open until a week ago when McCain picked Sarah Palin. In fact, the selection was a comical event in my office. A co-worker said she had picked a woman, and I named three (Hutchinson, Fiorna, Whitman) before giving up. This wasn’t just a darkhorse . It was like he picked another breed of animal.  I don’t care if she has two years in the governor’s chair.  She cannot have the same level of experience as the top of her ticket (don’t give me any of that “she was mayor” crap because I know small towns, and besides petty political bullshit, it’s not a training ground for much else).
The Palin nomination is reminiscent of NC State selecting Sidney Lowe as their head basketball coach. It energized their base.  It was the sexy pick, bringing the old title-winning point guard back to town. Never mind that he didn’t have any college coaching experience.  Never mind that if you had drawn up a list of 50 eligible college coaches, his name wouldn’t be on the list.  It was a pick from the gut.  From the heart.  For appearances.  And it may not pay off for the Wolfpack.  Palin is the same.

That leads me back to Barack.  The biggest knock that most people have is that he’s not skilled on affairs of state.  But, he’s the guy who voted against the war in Iraq.  Say what you will, but I clearly remember him telling us a year ago that Afghanistan was getting out of hand again.  He has advocated “talking” (not pandering) to rogue nations, just as Bush did with North Korea earlier this year.  He believes in negotiation and political solutions first.  Call him a wimp, but it would mean fewer of my high school classmates would die (I’ve lost one already).
Yes, McCain, Palin and the GOP have officially lost me.  For the next two months, I’m a Democrat at heart.  John and Sarah can say what they want about wanting to change Washington, but who am I going to trust? Given what I’ve seen in the past eight years, can I take another Republican administration?

It honestly makes me sick to my stomach.  That should should tell you something right there.  McCain-Palin makes me feel queasy.  Chalk up one independent for the blue team.

Categories: Leftovers
  1. DDPM
    October 15, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I agree, and remember mentioning that “there is pandering, and there is world-class pandering” to you when the Palin announcement was made.

    There was a two-hour Frontline on the presidential candidates last night on PBS, and it reminded me of how vibrant and compelling McCain was in 2000. By pandering to the far Right, to secure the nomination and hoping for votes in November (including the Palin pick), he has sold-out and diluted his essence – and invited being painted with the same brush as W. Shame on McCain and the GOP for letting an inexperienced, untested, junior senator make him look paranoid, out of touch and a W cronie.

    If this is the enduring profile of the GOP, then I will switch my official registration to Independent. This is no longer the party of Ronald Reagan.

  1. September 12, 2008 at 9:42 am

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