I have never been a great fan of John McCain. In the 2008 primaries, I preferred Mike Huckabee due to his strong traditional values, great speaking skills and humor, and ten years of executive experience. Mitt Romney was my second preference due to his strong values, economic acumen and similar leadership skills. But Governors Huckabee and Romney split the conservative vote and John McCain rose from the political dead to claim the Republican mantle.
Yet, even as a third preference, there was never a doubt in my mind that I would support and vote for John McCain to be the next president of the United States. Early on some evangelical leaders did not take that position—and I said they were wrong. That’s because this election hinges on one crucial issue.
Supreme Court Justices. The next US president will set the direction in law for America for the next twenty or thirty years. Why? Because our next president will likely choose one-to-three justices for the highest court in the land. Those picks will make a huge impact on the direction and future of our civilization.
That’s why I’m voting for John McCain. The stakes are too great to do anything else. Before I explain my reasoning, let me be honest about the evolution in my thinking about Senator John Sidney McCain.
I’ve always respected John McCain as a war hero. His years in a Vietnamese POW camp are legendary and hard for most of us to comprehend. He has gone through more pain and agony than any human being I know. That experience deepened his character and produced a love for this nation that I greatly admire. In terms of choosing a “hero” to lead our nation, John McCain is up there in the top five of American history next to George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Dwight Eisenhower.
But heroes don’t necessarily translate into great presidents as Grant’s administration proved. Besides, I had my doubts about McCain due to the following question marks in his career:
- A somewhat wild past including divorcing his first wife for no good reason.
- McCain-Feingold – a well intentioned but ineffective law that did not help with the corruption of money in politics.
- McCain-Kennedy – the comprehensive immigration bill that would have basically granted amnesty to some twenty million illegal aliens. (McCain did realize his error when the populace rose up and defeated it.)
- The Gang of 14 – McCain’s leadership over a bi-partisan group of senators who allowed filibustering of judicial appointments under certain circumstances.
I had a number of reasons to worry about a President John McCain. However, in the past six months my view has changed. I now have far more than one reason to vote for him—and I believe many Americans share that same journey of political discovery.
In the past few months I have become far more acquainted with the real record of the man. It is much better and more consistent than I had previously imagined. For example:
- John McCain has been a true pro-life champion for over thirty years of his public career. He believes in a culture of life and has a 100% rating on this vital issue by numerous organizations.
- His anti-earmark stance has been amazingly principled. He is the only senator in America who has never taken a pork-barrel earmark for projects in his own state. That’s amazing—and worthy of praise and emulation.
- He opposed the Bush tax cuts, but only because he wanted to link them with necessary spending cuts. He may be one of the few leaders in Washington who is really serious about shrinking the growth and size of Big Government.
- He was resolute and prescient in his support of the surge in Iraq which put the US on the path to victory and totally removed the Iraq War from the center of the national debate.
- His performance in the Saddleback Civil Forum showed gravitas, clarity, and wise positions on many areas of public policy. He creamed Obama in that setting, looking very presidential while the Illinois senator looked tentative and nuanced many answers.
In some ways Saddleback was the turning point in my growing enthusiasm for John McCain. But there were two other factors that sweetened the deal. First was Cindy McCain. Previously, I’d viewed her as just another blond, wealthy, trophy wife that was a great visual by his side. But in the last few months, we have all been exposed to the marvelous philanthropist and mother that she is who would make a superb First Lady. That’s no small deal these days when presidential picks seem to be more of a “package deal.” Cindy McCain is a terrific woman who has been involved for decades in humanitarian projects around the world. She brings a sweetness and grace that would make her a fantastic global ambassador. They’re a great team.
But the dealmaker in my final evaluation of John McCain was his stunning and brilliant pick of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. Whereas Barak Obama looked backward and chose Joe Biden, a consummate Washington insider for his running mate–totally destroying his credibility to bring change to America—John McCain looked forward and chose a woman, a typical American we all can relate to, a principled leader who is outside the Washington establishment, and is the highest rated governor in the nation. That pick was a home run. And if choosing a VP is an early barometer of judgment and success, then the current box score is McCain 1 – Obama 0.
John McCain has grown on me. He’s a much better and wiser leader than I imagined and has better overall policy principles than I gave him credit for. Yet the main reason I will vote for him remains the same.
Supreme Court Justices. Much of the recent societal deterioration of our nation has been engineered through the courts over the past few decades. Prayer and the Bible have been tossed from the schools; we made it legal to kill innocent babies–a mega-holocaust number of 45 million– since 1972. Now we’re fighting to save the institution of marriage, faith in the public specter, and a host of other issues. Secularists can’t win at the polls so they’ve circumvented the will of the people through the courts. George Bush chose two excellent justices in Chief Justice John Roberts and Samuel Alito. The balance of the Court now stands at four justices who are strict constitutionalists, and five activists. Activist John Paul Stevens is 88. Activist Ruth Bader Ginsburg is in poor health at 75.
One pick could bring a traditional values- faith-based renewal to America that many of us are praying for. In 2008 we are literally battling for the world view soul of a nation. That’s why the secular-left is desperate to get Obama elected. His presumed picks would cement a secular and humanist agenda for decades. That is what this election is fundamentally about—and why I am voting for Senator John McCain.