Tonight, Tiffany and I watched John McCain on The Daily Show. He was, as he always is, reasonable, intelligent, calm, and he delivered a couple of good jokes.
Afterward, Tiffany and I really got into it over the following matter: She believes the country would be better off if there were more compromise between the parties. That is, if there were less polarization in the country. And I cannot disagree. While we lived in Iowa, she even gave serious consideration to voting for a Republican to represent her in Congress, because he was moderate, reasonable, and believed in compromise. (This was Jim Leach, for you Iowans in the crowd.) He won handily in a pretty liberal district, probably precisely because of those characteristics.
Where I drew the line in our argument, and where we eventually had to just agree to disagree, was this: I would always vote for a Democrat over a Republican, no matter how moderate. It is a black or white issue for me. It wasn’t always that way, I must admit. As I reflect, there was a time when I might have voted for a McCain or a Leach. I would surely prefer one of them in office over DeLay or Bush. And yet, I would now rather see a Democrat than any of them, however liberal-like their positions. Why? Because I’m not in power. I don’t feel any need to compromise, in the name of a better country. Let them take the first step. Until then, I will hold on to what I can of the environment, of social programs, of education and the rest, with my bloody nails.
McCain, Arnold, Powell, Giuliani… if they are so moderate, if they are so forthright, why are they endorsing Bush? How can they stand up there and declare that George Bush is leading this country true, and deserves to stay in office so he can continue to lead us on this path? How can John McCain, who has declared on many occasions that this Administration took us to war under seemingly false pretexts, and who has called for higher accountability for the prison abuses, how can he get up there in front of millions of people and declare his uncompromising support for George W. Bush?
Oh, sure. The Parties are really big coalitions, and the members compromise their positions in order to further the aims of the Party. I get that, I even ascribe to that view of American two-party politics. But you can have a coalition without fawning over the majority’s figurehead. Maybe you could even attract more voters if you show the world there’s room under the Big Tent.
But John McCain, and yes, Arnold, and Giuliani, and Pataki, and the rest of them, they are stumping to be the next leader of their Party. They are using this National Convention to further their political fortunes by toeing the Bush line. That seems a flimsy plank on which to rest your ethics, and yet, McCain comes on TV and still plays up his “we must fight the war, not each other” line. For that, I cannot respect him.
When the liberals eventually come back to power, then maybe I will be willing to spread the olive branch rightward. Invite them to add some point to my hopelessly liberal agenda. But I cannot think of one piece of their Platform that I would be willing to accept in order to “mend fences.” They (they being Bush and his crew, but also those who quietly follow in his shadow) have taken important social programs and environmental programs and International goodwill and ethics and the rule of law and ripped their heads off and spat down their necks and I say, screw ’em. If that is how they want to play, I will take my bruises and I will beat them.
Am I angry? Damn straight. Do I have any other choice?