In recent history, the support of evangelical Christian voters has been more important to the Republican Party than ever. Without it, George Bush would likely have lost the 2000 and 2004 elections. These days, it’s hard for a Republican to get elected without strongly opposing abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control. But during a recession under one of the most unpopular Republican presidents in history, John McCain has quite a mountain to climb to become a candidate that conservatives will really want to rally behind.
In 1999, McCain said he would not support a repeal of Roe v. Wade, citing the number of women who might undergo illegal and dangerous ‘back-alley’ abortions. The Almanac of American Politics gave McCain a 2006 rating indicating 53 percent of his votes were considered liberal. With a record like that, calling McCain a conservative is a real stretch.
Fast forward to 2008, and the public debt is now nearly $10 trillion, on which taxpayers pay over $400 billion a year in interest – one of our largest budget categories. McCain made a promise in his presidential campaign that there will be “no new taxes” under his administration, but George Bush Sr. made the same promise in 1988 – a promise that he had to break when he took office in order to balance the budget.
We can all agree McCain’s crusade on wasteful spending is a good thing, but that can only take us so far. You can cut the tiny percentage of government spending that’s clearly wasteful, and that will help a little. But can he continue to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on the national debt and on a war that is of debatable benefit to our security, while also cutting taxes? Lower taxes do increase revenues, but our national debt is rising steadily because our spending is out of control. What’s worse is, a good portion of our spending is of little benefit to us, and is doing little to help hurricane victims, the poor and our veterans.
The American people face a choice between the two candidates who have both been gravitating to the right. Obama has been coming very close to praising the recent Supreme Court ruling which struck down the handgun ban in Washington, D.C., emphasizing individual responsibility and speaking out against partisan politics in his campaign speeches while McCain has reversed his previous positions on a balanced budget and abortion.
In all his inconsistencies, voters might think twice about supporting McCain – or at least think twice about supporting him as enthusiastically as the modern conservative voting bloc has supported Republicans in the past. In the end, the combined forces of social conservatives’ doubt that McCain will keep his recent campaign promises, and George Bush’s unpopularity – even among his most historically reliable supporters – may just do him in.
Matthew Rosson is a sophomore prebusiness major from Lincoln, Neb.