Thursday, June 5, 2008

Why I will never vote for John McCain.

Now that the Democratic primary's over, I'm seeing things like this article appearing all over the place:
Mrs. Nour-Hinkle said she would rather vote for Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, than for Mrs. Clinton's rival, Sen. Barack Obama -- echoing the sentiments of many protesters.

"It would be the first time in my life I would vote Republican for president," said Mrs. Nour-Hinkle, 35. "I think Obama is an empty shirt, the same as [President] George W. Bush but only a Democrat."
I mentioned in my last entry that while I am not a huge fan of Hilary Clinton, I would not vote for John McCain even if she became the nominee. And I think it's time for another post now: why I would never vote for John McCain, and why I would advise anyone who is considering it to sit down and think about this.

I'm going to start with Iraq. John McCain seems to think he's the most capable of handling this mess we've gotten into with this war. But by "handling", John McCain means "keeping us in" -- for one hundred years, if he thinks we need to. Considering that we had no reason to invade Iraq in the first place, and that our presence there appears to be doing very little good, this is a pretty absurd idea. His comparison with Japan is totally inappropriate - World War II was neither unprovoked nor based on false premises, and our troops over there aren't met with nearly as much hostility as in Iraq. (There are indeed some people who question the necessity of our presence there... but that's another topic entirely.)

That aside, in spite of all McCain's claims to be the best man for the job, he seems to be very poorly informed about what is actually going on over there in Iraq. For one, he didn't seem to know that al-Quaeda is not the only Islamic extremist group in the world. In fact some of the others -- the Shiite groups in Iran, for example -- actually hate al-Queda almost as much as they hate us. One of the oldest military strategies in the book ("the book" being Sun Tzu's The Art of War) is "know thy enemies and know thyself". McCain doesn't seem to be doing either of those things very well: to listen to him talk, you would almost think that he doesn't know what's happening on our side either, nor much about what's going on in Iraq at all.

Indeed, his whole idea of what constitutes foreign policy seems a tad backward. He is of the opinion that if we hadn't invaded Iraq, and that if we withdraw, we will be appeasing Hitler - um, the terrorists. The problem with this is that Iraq is not Nazi Germany -- once again, he's drawing faulty comparisons. And for all that he's speaking against isolationism in the last article, his proposed approaches to Cuba and Russia are basically "refuse to talk to them". In the case of Cuba, this what we've been doing for 50 years, and (as Senator Obama rightly pointed out) it has not changed a thing. Our fears of Cuba and communism may indeed have been well-founded back when we put the embargo in place, but nowadays it seems pretty ridiculous, not to mention pointless.

But John McCain thinks we should keep doing what we've always done -- and indeed he seems to think that this is what we always do. Clearly he is not only a bit fuzzy on the modern political situation, but on his history as well. This may even be why he's drawing all these ridiculous comparisons between Iraq and Japan and Nazi Germany and whatever other countries he can think up. I suppose we can hardly expect him to remember his high school history classes when he can't even remember some things he said about Hamas two years ago, or certain aspects of his voting record.

His domestic policy isn't exactly sound either. He wants to take the taxes cuts that George Bush gave us and make them permanent. This might sound like a good idea to some people, but what these particular people don't realize is that if McCain has his way with the tax cuts, the Hundred-Years War, and everything else he has planned, our national debt would get even bigger. (I wanted to say that it would go through the roof, but the problem there is that it it already has.) I guess we shouldn't be surprised that his economic plans are just a tad screwy, given that McCain himself has admitted that he doesn't know as much about economics as he should. But this hasn't stopped him from getting ideas about the housing crisis and gas prices - and of course he cares about the global warming issue, but not enough to actually do anything about it.

Ah, but he certainly know how to win over voters, right? He's trying to appeal to women, and in order to appeal to women you have to make an appearance on The View, right? But when it comes to actually walking the walk, he doesn't do so well. He doesn't think that women should be allowed to sue employers who pay them unfairly. Many people don't know that John McCain does not support a woman's right to choose what goes on in her own body. He doesn't seem to think that gay voters are even worth winning over -- he not only opposes gay marriage but any form of legal same-sex partnership, as well as allowing gays in the military and even laws against employment discrimination.

To top this off, he's also claimed that he's "the only one the special interests don't give any money to", but the problem with this is that it isn't true. Either his campaign is really bad at keeping track of where their money comes from, or John McCain is lying. And in fact, he's already had to take out a couple a very large loans, one of which may have violated campaign financing laws.

In the absence of having anything good to say about him, some in the McCain camp have resorted to good old-fashioned smear tactics. The McCain campaign itself is even asking supporters to promote him by comment-trolling on progressive blogs, because blogging what all the kids do on that newfangled internet thing these days. The problem with this plan (besides the fact that "troll your opponent" is the kind of strategy that dumb internet trolls would come up with) is that not everyone on the internet is such a fan of McCain, and they're being a lot less easy on him than the mainstream press is. In fact, they're being pretty damn blunt.

And the mainstream press is being ridiculously easy on John McCain. Almost none of the things I've mentioned here have received significant coverage in the news, and so it's not surprising that people might think that he's a better choice than Obama. But knowing all of these things here, not only could I not vote for him, the very idea of him becoming president and prolonging the disaster that George Bush has led us into actually scares me. Even Hilary Clinton has said that voting for McCain over Obama would be a mistake, and this is something that definitely bears thinking about.

To conclude, it's my opinion that a vote should be an informed decision, based on knowledge and personal convictions, not something done as a threat or out of spite. And I hope that the people who planning to vote for McCain -- for whatever reason -- will learn the facts about him, so they will at least know exactly what they're voting for.