More Conservatives Jump Ship

Conservatives seems to be splitting into two groups over this election: intellectual conservatives and cultural conservatives (well, there’s a group of plain old dumbasses like Hannity).

As the Huffington Post reported, RedState co-founder Joshua Trevino couldn’t bring himself to vote for McCain when his ballot came.

In the end, I couldn’t do it. My California ballot arrived in the mail today, and I opened it fully intending to vote for John McCain. I filled out the state propositions first — yes on 8, no on everything proposing a new bond or new spending — then the local offices, straight Republican excepting Kevin Johnson for (nonpartisan) Sacramento mayor. Finally, the vote for President of the United States: an academic exercise in California, where Barack Obama will surely win by a crushing margin. But good citizenship demands voting as if it matters. Do I believe in John McCain? Not as much as I used to. Do I believe in Sarah Palin? Despite my early enthusiasm for her, now not at all. Do I believe in the national Republican Party? Not in the slightest — even though I see no meaningful alternative to it.

Wick Allison of D Magazine writes in A Conservative for Obama:

THE MORE I LISTEN TO AND READ ABOUT “the most liberal member of the U.S. Senate,” the more I like him. Barack Obama strikes a chord with me like no political figure since Ronald Reagan.

The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.

Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.

This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.

Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.

Obama’s realist and pragmatic world view is perhaps best reflected in his time as a professer of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago, as Alexandra Starr writes in the International Herlad Tribue.

When Jaime Escuder, a University of Chicago law student, was searching for a professor to supervise an independent project on prisoners’ rights, he turned to Barack Obama, but not for Obama’s politics. As a student in Obama’s constitutional law class in 2001, Escuder was impressed by his teacher’s ability to see both sides of an argument.

“I figured Obama would respect the stance I took in the paper, whether or not he agreed with it,” said Escuder, now a public defender in Illinois.

…the men and women who studied with him at Chicago echo Escuder’s observation that Obama was much more pragmatic than ideological. Even as his political career advanced, Obama’s teaching stuck to the law-school norm of dispassionately evaluating competing arguments with the tools of forensic logic.

“You could tell from the course evaluations and enrollments that students had really taken to him,” [Douglas] Baird said.

Dan Johnson-Weinberger, who lobbies for progressive causes in Illinois, said he thought his former professor was unlikely to emerge as an ideological liberal if he makes it to the White House. “Based on what I saw in the classroom,” he said, “my guess is an Obama administration could be summarized in two words: Ruthless pragmatism.”

“I don’t think he’s wedded to any particular ideology,” Johnson-Weinberger told me. “If he has an impatience about anything, it’s the idea that some proposals aren’t worthy of consideration.”

These last two points are perhaps what has swayed many intellectual conservatives who have looked at his history and actually read his books and read his policy manual (extensive).  McCain likes to paint Obama as an inexperienced and liberal know-nothing, but the fact of the matter is that such a portrait could not be further from the truth.  His appeal lies in his ability to evaluate ideas without bias and his willingness to hear both sides of the argument. 

It will be interesting to see how the Republican party is reshaped after this election.  It has brought the worst aspects of the party to the forefront of the discussions and I think this has effectively turned away many intellectual conservatives in disgust while the cultural conservatives cheer on ther pit-bull hockey mom, with McCain almost as an afterthought.

By the way, as an interesting note, as I noticed that Jill Biden’s name was prefixed with “Dr.”: Barack, Michelle, Joe, and Jill all have post graduate degrees (Jill and Michelle have multiple).  In addition, it often goes unnoticed, but Obama majored in political science with a specialization in international relations.

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2 Responses

  1. Mary says:

    Wow! Where do I begin? First of all, this man is correct about the sorry state of the Republican party. Only a few real conservatives remain wandering the halls of Congress. The rest of the party suffers from being pulled to the left for decades by the media and popular culture. George Bush has decided to take on some very tough issues without being able to tell the truth about what we are actually doing and why we are doing it. He never defends himself and poorly explains himself when called upon to do so.

    However, to embrace Obama is not the answer. This man’s perception of Obama as a thoughtful pragmatist is a frightening spectacle and to me shows how utterly empty Obama is. He is functioning as a mirror, somehow reflecting the desires and thoughts of way more people than I thought possible.

    The device used here is the CHANGE mantra and Obama does not need to make these radical claims himself as these groups just ASSIGN values and positions as they all see fit depending on the changes they want. Just imagine what you want, and Obama fits the bill. He is a master of the wink and the nod, and therefore people do not believe him when he says things that are against what they believe. They think he is “just saying those things” to get elected and that once he is safely in office he will fullfill their secret desires. Even his former church mates, whom he threw under a bus and denounced publically, will all be voting for him and they probably expect that a President Obama will carry out payback for all thier greivances against the USA.

    And now I see, to at least some conservatives, he is the new Ronald Reagan. If Obama wins and it is looking more and more like he will, there are either going to be legions of disappointed groups out there or Obama is a supernatural being who can change the perception of reality depending who he is talking to. There are simply no policies that will placate all sides of every issue, and Obama is building up huge expectations. I fear his strategy after the election will be the Third-World strategy (Chavez anyone?) of claiming that "enemies" are stopping him from saving the world and that more power will be needed in the executive branch. The end result may be that all the power that people believe that Bush/Cheney have usurped will be freely given under Obama.

    People should ask themselves if they are projecting their own desires onto Obama or if there is actually a substantive rational, basis for their selection.

  2. Chuck says:

    In this election cycle, even if you find that you cannot buy into Obama, the question that you have to ask yourself is whether a McCain campaign will be better or worse for America.

    In an ideal world, there would be a realistic alternative (maybe Paul is your guy or maybe Barr), but in the real world, you have two alternative futures for the United States and you must pick one. That is the state of our democracy, whether you like it or not. Perhaps in the future, a viable third party will emerge, but you have no such luck this cycle.

    Speaking of which, I find the criticism of "He is functioning as a mirror, somehow reflecting the desires and thoughts of way more people than I thought possible" somewhat odd. Isn’t that what an elected official is *supposed* to do in a representative democracy? Why would people support him or vote for him if he didn’t reflect their values, beliefs and vision?

    Of course, I don’t disagree that there are some — perhaps many — that have put him on too high a pedestal that he will end up with expectations that he cannot possibly meet, but for me, personally, I understand what campaigning is about; I understand that dissent is a vital part of democracy and thus I understand that he can and will meet resistance to all of his policy measures from the Republicans and from the Democrats. It is unlikely that any of his policy proposals will pass unmodified and be signed into law. That is the reality of our system.

    But that’s not what the campaign is about. It is about showcasing ideas. It is about aligning ourselves with the candidate who offers the best vision for the future and the candidate who shows the most promise to bring about positive changes for the country. Not for a second do I believe that John McCain’s wacky health care proposals will pass Congress, but even the idea is completely absurd and shows that he is out of touch.

    The last person that you should be worried about trying to amass power at the executive branch is Obama. As stated time and again, his background is in law and he has spent considerable time teaching constitutional law. If his past is any indication, and that is all that we can go for any individual, he will be a mediator and a voice of reason. If you truly fear for a power grab at the executive office, you only need to see Palin’s response from the second debate with regards to the Vice Presidency or her abuse of power (as revealed by the inquiry which was initiated by Republican legislators) and then you’ll know which party is trying to amass more power in the executive branch.

    Finally, if you really feel that Obama supporters are assigning the values and positions of his campaign, well, then you may wish to spend some time on his site. All of his policies are outlined there in detail. There is also a full policy book which outlines everything which he proposes. I myself have spent a bit of time with his education policy proposal (some 15+ pages) which goes into quite a bit of detail. If, after you have perused his actual policy proposals, that you feel that he has not clearly stated his positions and is only pandering to the crowds, then perhaps he’s not the candidate for you and perhaps you should vote for McCain or even write in Ron Paul.