Presidential Primary 2008: Voting Early, and an Endorsement

by Mike on 1/24/2008

in Mob Rule

Florida allows voters to march into select centralized polling places days before the scheduled election and cast their votes. Today, because I won’t be able to vote on the scheduled date next Tuesday, I did just that.

I haven’t spent a lot of time writing about the primary this year, in part because until a couple of days ago, I still wasn’t sure who I’d want to vote for. Like past cycles, I began with a process of elimination.

First rule of thumb: Stop Voting For Evil. I will not vote for the “lesser evil” just because. If I cast my vote, it is a show of affirmative support. So, who have I ruled out as a contender for my vote? (Note: I’m registered as a Republican, and Florida has closed primaries, so I’ll only be discussing the GOP candidates here.)

I won’t vote for anyone who espouses an isolationist foreign policy. That eliminates Ron Paul, who effectively advocates that we disengage from the world and retreat to our own shores. I won’t today rehash why this is unrealistic, except to say that the United States by its very nature in entangled in world affairs and cannot reasonably disentangle itself. This is a global society, and we are a global player. Refusing to acknowledge this is not a sign of a reasonable candidate.

I won’t vote for someone if I don’t believe their current positions are sincere. That eliminates Romney. Running for president in 2008, he has tried to hold himself out as a social conservative, despite a decades-long record as a moderate on most issues that conservatives care about. His conversion may be genuine, but there’s no way to tell. And even though I don’t fall neatly into the conservative box, I won’t vote for a man who appears to have changed his stripes solely to suit the political landscape.

I won’t vote for fiscal populists, dropping Huckabee from the list. Huckabee is the worst of both worlds, issue-wise: he’s a nanny-stater on social conservative issues, and a tax-and-spend liberal on fiscal issues. I can’t think of a single issue on which I agree with Huckabee.

Who’s that leave? Ironically, the same two I was thinking about four years ago – Rudy and John.

What’s to like about these guys? Both are strong on national defense and practice fiscally responsible policies, and neither is known for taking a hard line on social issues that, to me, ought to be outside the purview of the federal government. Surely, neither one is perfect – McCain sees big holes in the First Amendment, Rudy takes a dim view of the Second – but as Ronald Reagan once said of his days as California’s governor, “If you got seventy-five or eighty percent of what you were asking for, I say, you take it and fight for the rest later.”

So after all this time, for me it has still come down to the Mayor and the Senator. I think I’d be equally happy with either administration – at least, pissed off only 10-20% of the time – but in order to pick one over the other, I now need to look at the tiebreaker: Electability.

Which of these two men is best poised to carry the Republican banner, and beat whichever liberal the Democrats put up this fall? Judging by the primaries, it’s pretty obvious that one candidate is better equipped to run for President than the other.

Rudy made a tactical decision to win the nomination by winning major primary states in which he was running strong – Florida being the first. His entire campaign strategy is built around him taking Florida, and winning it so convincingly that he’d easily mop the rest of those delegates. The only problem with that strategy is that it’s too brittle – lose Florida and it’s over. But there was a way to make it work: pour time, money, and energy into Florida, and convert those resources into votes.

So where has Rudy been? Now that the voting is already taking place he’s running some so-so TV ads, and he’s been making appearances in the state recently. But he completely failed to make waves here while the opponents – and apparently, all the media – were distracted elsewhere. Now, recent polls show him riding as low as third place, in a state he needs to win in a walk.

John McCain, on the other hand, has run for President before. He’s learned through bitter experience how to defend his campaign against the kind of political knife-fighting that derailed him in South Carolina in 2000 – and what he would likely face in the general against the Clintons. He’s managed to take a campaign that many considered dead a few months ago due to his position on certain immigration proposals and come back as a front runner if not the front-runner as the primaries approach their peak.

In short, John McCain can win the general election, and is more likely to win than any of the other choices the GOP could make. So, once again, I have voted for John McCain and encourage all prospective Florida voters to do the same.

  • http://www.tempestinateapot.org/ karen

    Thanks for sharing this – my husband and I were having this same conversation just the other night, lots to think about before the Texas primary!

  • http://www.tempestinateapot.org karen

    Thanks for sharing this – my husband and I were having this same conversation just the other night, lots to think about before the Texas primary!

  • Warren

    You misinterpret Ron Paul’s foreign policy. His is a policy of discussion and trade, not isolationism. Don’t confuse isolationism with a reluctance to go to war over every perceived slight. He voted in favor of action in Afghanistan, but correctly voted against invading Iraq, which was inexcusable. (UN resolution violations? Give me a break.)

    Paul would open up trade with Cuba and all other countries, and allow the American cultural and commercial empire to do the missionary work for free enterprise and human rights.

    Mean while, Bush won’t talk to the leadership of major countries, and wants to believe that trade sanctions against Cuba and other countries is working. Who’s the isolationist?

  • Warren

    You misinterpret Ron Paul’s foreign policy. His is a policy of discussion and trade, not isolationism. Don’t confuse isolationism with a reluctance to go to war over every perceived slight. He voted in favor of action in Afghanistan, but correctly voted against invading Iraq, which was inexcusable. (UN resolution violations? Give me a break.)

    Paul would open up trade with Cuba and all other countries, and allow the American cultural and commercial empire to do the missionary work for free enterprise and human rights.

    Mean while, Bush won’t talk to the leadership of major countries, and wants to believe that trade sanctions against Cuba and other countries is working. Who’s the isolationist?

  • http://ricardolaw.com/ Jason

    Hey Mike, was surfing the web and saw your endorsement. Also saw your recent bost on twitter about possble AG for Rudy. AG is a thankless position, and like most cabinet positions, I suspect he’d merely be a seat warmer for the next guy – seems like a lot of cabinet secretaries get the regular privilege of resigning as the fall guy for the President. I like to think Rudy as more of VP material, although that might send Rush and many other conservatives right over the cliff.

  • http://ricardolaw.com Jason

    Hey Mike, was surfing the web and saw your endorsement. Also saw your recent bost on twitter about possble AG for Rudy. AG is a thankless position, and like most cabinet positions, I suspect he’d merely be a seat warmer for the next guy – seems like a lot of cabinet secretaries get the regular privilege of resigning as the fall guy for the President. I like to think Rudy as more of VP material, although that might send Rush and many other conservatives right over the cliff.

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