Editor’s note: The Father Life is not endorsing a candidate for US President, and there are plenty of candidate comparisons already available online (two of the better ones are at glassbooth.org and votehelp.org). Instead, we’ve invited two fathers to give us the reasons they have chosen their respective candidates. Scott Ensign’s pro-McCain article follows. For the article on Barack Obama, click here.
It was the 1992 presidential campaign that gave us the iconic slogan, “It’s the economy, stupid.” With Bill Clinton’s successful bid for president, the era of folksy, I feel your pain populism was ushered in. Since that point, the politics of self interest have taken center stage. It’s become conventional wisdom that, like eager trick-or-treaters, voters will line up behind the candidate who promises them the most goodies.
The echoes of this philosophy are not difficult to discern during this protracted political season. I challenge you to try to escape the bucket-loads of cringe-inducing drivel about sitting around the kitchen table and Wall Street vs. Main Street. I don’t mean to demean the importance of our current financial crisis. It’s all too real, and it will most certainly go down as the defining issue of the 2008 presidential campaign.
However, despite the gravity of the financial meltdown, my Roth IRA won’t be on my mind when I pull the lever this year. In the interest of full disclosure, it should be no surprise to anyone that I’ll be voting for John McCain. I’m a lifelong conservative, and I mostly line up with him on issues of taxation, life, the appropriate (read:limited) role of government in our lives. I’ve never voted for a Democrat for president, and 2008 won’t be the year for me.
That said, conservative ideology has played nothing more than a supporting role in my political thought processes this season. There is a defining issue, not just of this election, but of our generation. It’s not the economy. It’s not universal health care. It’s not even who will be able to pack the most “change” in the suitcase they bring to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January.
I am voting for John McCain because he has the necessary moral clarity and world view to deal with the global threat of radical Islamic extremism. It’s funny that it seems so out of tune with the politics of the moment to even make a statement like that. That’s why you won’t hear McCain or Obama talking about it much in the days leading up to the election. Joe the Plumber may currently be getting more airtime, but that doesn’t change the fact that the global rise of a vile strain of Islamic fundamentalism is, by leaps and bounds, the most important issue of this young century.
I first came around to McCain during the Republican primaries when I heard him talking about this issue. He gets it, and he’s the right man to confront it as president. There’s no doubt in my mind about that. McCain understands that, while 9-11 woke us up to this problem, that kind of terrorism is just the tip of the iceberg. Right now a much more subversive kind of cultural terrorism is being bred in the mosques of Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, sweeping across Europe and threatening to land on our shores. As we sit and ponder the ups and downs of our financial markets, politicians in Europe are giving lip service to enacting portions of Sharia law in order to mollify an increasingly antagonistic Islamic subculture.
If you’re an undecided voter leaning toward Obama, I can certainly understand why. He’s a compelling candidate (something the Democrats haven’t had since Bill Clinton), and I can’t blame anyone for wanting to turn a corner in American politics right now. However, I would challenge you to read a pair of books before November 4th (I know it’s getting late, but this is worth it).
The first is America Alone by Mark Steyn. Steyn has a command of this issue like no other. He frames it in a way that, to me at least, makes the problem undeniable and the necessary actions (which I believe McCain is better equipped to take) blatantly obvious.
The other book is even more interesting in many ways. It’s called While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within. Part of what makes this book interesting is its author. It was written by Bruce Bawer. Hardly your run-of-the-mill, fire breathing conservative, Bawer is a homosexual American expatriate who fled this country for the accepting shores of Europe to get away from the cultural prejudices against his lifestyle. It didn’t take Bawer long to realize that the vitriolic radical Muslims of Europe made the insult-hurling good old boys of his home country look like a pack of pluralistic pussycats. Bawer is understandably shocked and appalled at the way Europe continues to appease these people, even as they shamefully abuse European immigration laws and huddle in hate-incubating enclaves across the continent. Bawer uses the vivid examples of the recent French riots and the murder of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh to drive home a truly undeniable point.
You will no doubt notice that neither of these books even mention the names of John McCain or Barack Obama, but that’s not the point. Once you’ve read them and taken a closer look at the candidates’ positions, you’ll see where I’m coming from. I don’t want to say that Obama doesn’t get it. That’s a far too simplistic, throwaway statement. It’s simply that Obama, and his peers on the left, are far to quick to hide behind the false veneer of moral equivalence. Just like liberals pointed to the aims of communism rather than its reality during the height of the Cold War, Obama and others today are quick to point to American foreign policy mistakes (of which I admit there are many) in order to explain away Islamic extremism. This is a fundamental misjudgment of the issue, and it will do nothing to solve the problem. As Winston Churchill said, “a fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” We’re dealing with fanatics, and leaving Iraq or creating a Palestinian state won’t get them to change the subject.
Just as Ronald Reagan understood that the only way to defeat communism was to confront it from a position of strength and moral clarity, John McCain knows that radical Islam cannot be appeased or conceded away.
When I cast my vote on November 4th, I won’t be thinking about whether or not my sons will be able to get dubious loans for big cars and McMansions. I will be thinking about whether or not they’ll have the opportunity, as I have, to live in a free and democratic society. Those are the stakes, and that is why I’m voting for John McCain.
Scott Ensign is an online advertising professional and lifelong political junkie. He lives in Rochester with his wife and two small sons.