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I am a Republican, but I cannot support John McCain

By Scott Tibbs, September 3, 2008

Some folks in the local Republican Party are unhappy with my criticism of John McCain and support for Libertarian candidate Bob Barr. I cannot, in good conscience, support John McCain for President. McCain's anti-conservative record is too long to ignore. This includes:

  • Opposition to President Bush's tax cuts.
  • Support for amnesty for illegal aliens.
  • Support for killing human beings for embryonic stem cell research.

McCain's most egregious betrayal of conservative principles, of course, is that he supports regulating the content of political speech through "campaign finance reform." This shows a disregard for the First Amendment that I find very disturbing. Even the one issue that has many conservatives supporting McCain, the Supreme Court, is an area where I lack confidence in the GOP nominee. McCain voted to confirm David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, leading me to question his judgment on picking good judges who will strictly interpret the Constitution as written and oppose Roe v. Wade.

If a political party is to be a worthwhile choice for voters, that political party has to stand for something. The Republican Party's core values are limited government, individual liberty, national security, and protecting innocent human life. Unfortunately, my party has moved to expand the power of the federal government, at the expense of self-determination for the states. My party has not been as strong on individual liberty as it should be. My party has advanced an agenda that cannot be described as "conservative".

I am not involved in politics because I support a particular political party. I am involved in politics to advance the conservative principles that have made this country great. I am a Republican because I believe the Republican Party is the best vehicle for advancing conservative principles in public policy. I am a conservative before I am a Republican. If some in the local party disapprove of that, so be it.

If elected, McCain will be a better president than Barack Obama. But will electing a Republican President in 2008 help or hurt the Republican Party (and, more importantly, conservative principles) in the long term? When Obama advances liberal policies such as higher taxes and bigger government, it is easy for Republicans to attack him. But if McCain proposes more anti-conservative policies (such as expanded "campaign finance reform" laws) what will Republicans do? More partisan Republicans will defend McCain, while principled conservatives will attack McCain. This will be divisive for the Republican Party.

I am also looking beyond this election. I do not want to see the Republicans put up increasingly worse candidates who the Christian right will fall in line behind because "at least he's not as bad as (insert Democrat here)." Does the Republican party have to stand for something, or can they get by with being not as bad as Democrats? I worry that, by supporting any old Republican because "at least he's not as bad as (insert Democrat here)", Christian conservatives are rushing headlong into irrelevance. Do we want Republican candidates to think they do not have to do a thing to protect life or marriage, because they can just point to how terrible Barack Obama (or Hillary Clinton, or John Edwards, or John Kerry, or Barney Frank, or Nancy Pelosi) is?

In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected President. Clinton's aggressively Leftist policies energized the conservative base and resulted in the Republican landslide of 1994, when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years. Could we see a similar backlash with Obama? While I in no way want to see Obama as President, an Obama victory could be beneficial for the prospects of implementing a truly conservative legislative agenda and electing a truly conservative Republican President in 2012.

I will continue to support Republicans such as Governor Mitch Daniels, Attorney General candidate Greg Zoeller and Congressional candidate Mike Sodrel. I will support local candidates for offices such as County Council and Surveyor. I will support the party, but I cannot support the party's candidate at the top of the ticket.