Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is he one of "us"? Are you???

Since so much talk lately on the conservative side has centered on “what makes one of us?”, I decided that I should probably sit down and give a little thought into what I think an American conservative is, and then to stack John McCain against my own developed thoughts to see how easily he passes my own standards. I would encourage everyone to do the same, because each of us will come up with different results. With that, I begin my list.

To me, an American conservative:

-- recognizes the existence of an Almighty. For two reasons I put this on my list of conservative traits. For starters, there’s the role that religious belief played in the history of this country. Even if for no other reason then as a source for inspiration that helped found this country, conservatives should understand the positive value of belief in God. The second reason that I put this trait on the list is that there ain’t no better way to explain the existence of life here or anywhere else in this universe. Try as science might, they still fall short of explaining how matter one (my own personal designation for the first piece of matter that existed) came into being. Conservatives do not deny this shortcoming in science, and they seek an explanation for it--an explanation that points to the divine.

-- values human life. This is manifest not just in the strong opposition to the destruction of a human life that cannot defend itself, but also in the actions that conservatives will find acceptable to protect those who can not be trusted to act in their own best interests (children, criminals, etc.)

-- believes that the purpose of government is to provide opportunities for the citizenship to find and explore answers, not to provide answers. Conservatives’ default position is that our fellow man can think for him/herself, and should be held accountable for those decisions that they make.

-- values individualism and the contributions an individual can make to society--provided it is not disruptive to the pursuit of happiness for other citizens.

-- denounces bigotry. Conservatives measure others by deeds, not by race, creed, or gender.

-- understands that sacrifice is necessary for the protection of the state. Notice I said “state”, not “the government” or “the administration”. Things like FISA and ANWR go directly to this point: personal liberty (FISA) and environmentalism (ANWR) are both noble ideas that should be vigorously protected--except when the good of the state is at risk (read: national security). Conservatives understand that without a secure state, there will be an unacceptable opening--perhaps even a yearning--for intrusive government that limits the choices of an individual.

-- understands that not all players on any stage have the best interests of Americans (or other Americans) at heart. There isn’t a “fundamental goodness” about everyone--there is only a willingness to let that person/persons prove their worth (or lack thereof) through their own words and deeds.

-- thinks that parents should raise children, not the state.

-- is disgusted by pork, which adds to the bill that the American people are stuck paying.

How does McCain stack up? Well, point-by-point:

-- he has publicly spoken (see last post) about his belief in God--in fact, I am still struck by the simplicity but beauty of the statement he made. Score one for McCain.

-- McCain has a mostly solid--but not spectacular--pro-life record. His website highlights his opposition to Roe v Wade--which is necessary wording for anyone running as a conservative, but I think it‘s kind of a red herring. Roe v Wade likely won’t be overturned on a states-rights basis--it will need science proving that a pillar of that horrible decision was wrong-headed and faddish. Absent that--and it could happen in the next 4 years, but then again I thought Romney would win Florida--I think Roe will be left alone. On other topics, his website also highlights his stance against human cloning activities and his desire to protect our children from predators. While not perfect, he’s good enough for me. Score another for McCain.

-- regarding the role of government, I grade McCain as mixed. While I appreciate his stances against socialized medicine and his desire to promote judges that are constructionist in nature , his authorship of McCain-Liebermann falls flat on my ears. And his creation of a super-legislature in the gang of 14 is a definite black mark. I won’t quite give him a thumb’s down, but he isn’t going to get a point here, either.

-- points 4 and 5 are kind of related, so I’ll grade them as one. I think it is clear that he shows a great interest in humanity (his reasons for supporting the naturalization of immigrants shows this); as such, he is unlikely to devalue humans for any reason, much less based on some prejudice. Score one for McCain.

-- McCain understands self-sacrifice to a degree that no other major party candidate of the last 40 years save Bob Dole did; however, I don’t know that he has the whole bubble legislatively. Even I can appreciate a desire to protect a “pristine” lot of land--even if it wasn’t really pristine. But to me, the overriding question is: how does the issue relate to national security? Whereas the ability to intercept the communications of terrorists has an unquestioned tie-in to making our nation more secure, I also happen to think that our reliance--to whatever extent it exists--on foreign oil is a severe hindrance to this nation’s overall security. When we have the ability to lessen that reliance literally under our own noses and we don’t do it because of environmentalist concerns. . .well, that’s just plain dumb. (I also hold out for hope in alternative sources of energy. But we ain't there yet. And I don't know when we will be) Again, I’m all about saving the environment--but environmentalism is an issue that takes a backseat to national security to me. Also, the porous border is a HUGE national security concern to me, and McCain was wrong-headed on this topic as recently as this summer. Again, I’m with him that the immigration debate requires a humanitarian resolution--although we differ on what constitutes “humanitarian”. As President, if he gets presented an immigration bill from the Democrat-controlled Congress that takes steps shy of securing the border while clearly delineating a path to citizenship for illegals, will he really veto it while asking for more? Listen, I am 100% positive that McCain will pursue terrorists where he KNOWS they are. . .I’m just concerned about his lack of imagination in seeing how other “interests” hurt our overall security. I’m actually going to knock him a point here--not because he’s entirely wrong, but because he can’t be wrong AT ALL about homeland defense.

-- I think McCain proves time and again that he understands that there isn’t necessarily a fundamental “goodness” about everyone--he lets actions speak for themselves. And he has a good, long memory. Score one for McCain.

-- McCain’s website has a lot of good stuff about the raising of our kids and who is responsible for it. Score one for McCain.

-- I don’t think there’s any question about where McCain stands regarding pork in our government. In fact, the only thing he has to say to win me over from a fiscal standpoint is to publicly take a stand against earmarks--which he has done, and which I believe he will deliver on in office. Again, score one for McCain.

By my counts, that’s 6 yeas, one push, and one nay. I think he is solidly conservative. . .but I really really REALLY hope that he starts getting imaginative about the efforts that need to be taken to secure this homeland.

What say you?


Blogger Michael said...

Interesting approach. I would add that conservatives value results over intentions. To that end, dock McCain one point here: McCain-Feinggold was supposed to get money out of politics and, instead, simply opened the door for deep pockets to buy the election without ANY accountability. Likewise, manyu of his statements about interrogation and Gitmo betray a naivete that could be deadly for us all

11:57 PM  

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