Final thoughts on the campaign
I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to say about today’s election, and here’s the parting thought I’d like to close with: No matter who wins, the United States and the world are going to be just fine. During the heat of the campaign, I think many people tend to forget that U.S. ...
I've been trying to figure out what I wanted to say about today's election, and here's the parting thought I'd like to close with: No matter who wins, the United States and the world are going to be just fine.
I’ve been trying to figure out what I wanted to say about today’s election, and here’s the parting thought I’d like to close with: No matter who wins, the United States and the world are going to be just fine.
During the heat of the campaign, I think many people tend to forget that U.S. politics is fought over very narrow ground. A good analogy might be to a football game that takes place entirely between the two 40-yard lines.
Barack Obama, for all his sweeping rhetoric about "change" and his critics’ fatuous cries of socialism, isn’t actually offering radical policy changes. You might say he merely wants to return to the Clinton years in pushing for an incremental expansion of healthcare coverage, a slightly more progressive tax structure, and a liberal internationalist foreign policy. And just look at some of the names being floated in the press for senior-level positions — many of them, such as former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, are Clinton veterans.
As for John McCain, yes, he’s run a traditional Republican campaign that has undermined his claim of being a "maverick." But before he began actively seeking the presidency, he showed a clear inclination to work across the aisle on issues such as climate change, interrogation policy, immigration reform, and campaign finance. He’s not a dogmatic conservative on economic issues, and he appears to have little interest in fighting the culture wars of the past. On foreign policy, McCain is in some cases more hawkish than Bush, more cautious in other areas, but generally well within the foreign-policy establishment’s well-worn consensus on most topics.
Yes, there are important substantive differences between the two men. McCain’s support for free trade and his disdain for ethanol subsidies appeal to me more than Obama’s pandering to unions and the corn lobby. Obama’s proposals on climate change will be more effective (though unless the Democrats get 60 seats in the Senate today he will have a heckuva time getting them passed — especially given the state of the economy). And the Illinois senator has proven far steadier in talking about the financial crisis as McCain has mumbled incoherently about earmarks and spending freezes.
But at the end of the day, it is hard to imagine that either man could be worse than the current occupant of the Oval Office, and there are many indications that either would be vastly superior.*
*As long as John McCain stays alive throughout his term.
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