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Posted by on Oct 20, 2008 in Politics | 13 comments

Obama Versus McCain: What Is a Moderate To Do?

As a relatively-moderate Republican I have found myself facing something of a dilemma regarding my choices for President this November. Looking at the two major choices, I find that neither one is particularly appealing to me. Each one has things I like and each has things I dislike. Some of the things I like however are not particularly relevant to being President and, while admittedly some of the dislikes are unfair, the fact remains that they are there.

In the hopes of reaching out to fellow moderates and reviewing my own concerns I thought I’d discuss where I am regarding my choices.

Looking first to some of the things I like about the candidates I would say that I certainly admire Senator McCain for his long career of service to our nation. In this I think I am joined by most Americans, with the possible exception of the far-left fringe. But I am not sure that this is particularly relevant to his becoming President. There are many dedicated veterans out there and I deeply admire each one but that does not mean they should be President.

I also admire his integrity and his willingness to go against the grain and, certainly, that is one element I might like in a leader but it hardly makes him a lock for for being the next leader of the free world.

Similarly I admire Senator Obama for rising from humble origins to being nominated for President. I also respect the fact that, while he could have taken the big money route after law school, he chose to return to his home community to try and serve his fellow citizens. I also respect his ability to inspire and call on the best in our nation but, as with McCain, this is an element I like in a leader but it is not all I need to say he should be the next President.

On the negative side, there are things that concern me about both candidates – some fair and some unfair.

With regard to Senator McCain, I am concerned about his age. I realize that this is totally unfair and that many great leaders have served at later times in their lives. Winston Churchill was one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century and was well into his 70s. But nonetheless it is a concern.

On the more reasonable side, I am also concerned about his judgment as demonstrated by things like his choice of Governor Palin as his running mate. I do not think she is suited to be Vice President but my deeper concern is that he seems to have made the choice on something of a whim, almost as an afterthought, and that is deeply troubling.

Looking to Senator Obama, I have concerns as well, both fair and unfair. On the unfair side I am concerned about the trustworthiness issue. I know many people greatly admire him but for some reason I do not feel that way. When I look at him and listen to him speak there is something that I just don’t trust. I have no idea why I feel that way but I do. It is something that simply happens sometimes when you meet a person and he just doesn’t feel right.

I know this is unfair but I just can’t help feeling it.

On the more rational side I am concerned about his lack of experience as well as his fairly-liberal positions on the issues. I do think we need to have a balanced tax code and that we need to help those in need. But when I hear a candidate use terms like ‘spread the wealth around’ it does give me pause.

At the same time I have concerns about Senator McCain following too many of the failed policies of the past eight years, so I am not sure that he is a good option either.

In short, when it comes to the issues I find Senator McCain too far to the right and too close to the Bush view while I find Senator Obama at least potentially too far to the left. When it comes to the candidates themselves, I have serious concerns about them both whether it be judgment or experience. Basically while there are good things about both men I can’t say that either meets the test for being my choice.

My frustration this year is perhaps exacerbated by the fact that, in my entire lifetime of voting, I am not sure I can point to any Presidential candidate that I truly admired and respected. I probably would have said that of Ronald Reagan but I was too young to vote for him. Since then it has largely been a choice between the lesser of two evils.

This year I have not made a decision but my inclination is to reject that Hobson’s choice this year and vote None of The Above, or in the case of the California ballot a pick a third party. Of course even there the choice is tough since at least two of the choices (McKinney and Keyes) are insane and the other two (Nader and Barr) are even more extreme than Obama and McCain.

I tend to wonder how many other voters out there feel the same way. Is the enthusiasm for Senator Obama truly sincere or is it something of a hope that maybe he is the real thing tinged with the fear that he probably is not. How many of us have talked ourselves into believing he is really different or truly moderate just because we need to do it?

I would love to think that we could combine the best of the two parties while dispensing with the worst. Imagine if this year we had had the option to support a Warner/Lieberman ticket ? Or if you wanted a truly inspired female governor for VP, how about Governor Jodi Rell of Connecticut ? Imagine Senate leaders like Richard Lugar and Ken Salazar or House leaders who move to the center instead of the left or right?

Perhaps someday we moderates will band together and form a new party that can nominate candidates worthy of our support. Until then I think many of us are faced with crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.

I, for one, am not hopeful this year.

Cross Posted from The Square Deal

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