Eight years ago I voted in my first primary. It was the first election I was eligible to vote in and I cast my vote strongly for John McCain. I had no qualms about doing so and was quite saddened when George Bush won the nomination. I had been a fan of McCain since seeing him on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He was smart, had a great sense of humor, and was known as a centrist, a maverick by Republican standards. I voted for George Bush the first time (fool me once…) as I had not really forged my own political identity. I was raised Republican and at the time thought second-handedly that a Democrat winning the White-house would mean America turning into an orgy of depravity (despite a democrat having been their for the previous 7 years and leading to the most prosperous decade in American History. Say what you will about the 90s, at least it wasn’t the 80’s.) I suppose it’s been kind of a guilt thing. Every time I see John McCain I think of what could have been. What if John McCain had been elected President? Would he have heeded the warnings and stopped 9-11? Would we have gone into Iraq or stayed after the actual terrorists in Afghanistan?
Well it’s election time again and we once more have a chance to vote for John McCain for president. It seems rather sad that I can no longer support him. Sometime in between losing to now President Bush in the primaries and this current campaign, John McCain has come to the conclusion that being a centrist will not get him elected. So he has gone far, far further to the right than I would have thought possible eight years ago. While I was still living under the auspices of my Republican upbringing, I recognized in McCain something that seemed and has subsequently been proved to be lacking in Bush: Common sense. McCain was at the time a pragmatic individual, cynical in an honest, good way. He would be more at home on the Daily Show than the campus of Liberty University shaking hands with Jerry Falwell and praising his ilk. Perhaps McCain has honestly changed his mind and become more conservative. Or perhaps John McCain came to the realization that in order to win his party’s nomination he would have to appeal to the base, but if that is the case he has become cynical in a bad way.
I would really like to be able to support John McCain for the presidency this year. Despite everything I still consider myself a right-leaning centrist. Alas, John McCain has moved himself right out of my sphere. And that would normally bring me back to my usual state of disgusted cynicism with politics. However, a new challenger has entered the ring. Someone who seems to favor pragmatism and possess common sense, but instead of even the good cynicism, he possesses something far better: Hope. Now some who are cynical in a bad way may well say that this is all a show on the part of Barack Obama, that he’s secretly disingenuous and just after power, but everything I have seen of him and first-hand accounts I have read paint him as genuine. And this is the saddest part of all, because cynic though I am, America needs hope more than anything these days. And so I cannot bring myself to vote for the man I supported eight years ago. Time marches on and it is time for a change. On the plus side, if either Obama or McCain succeed to the presidency I can be okay with that. For the first time since voting for McCain in the 2000 primaries I can vote for the person I think would be better for the position instead of voting against someone I think would be a disaster. This at least is a net positive.