No holiday from choosing

Some conservative Republicans are still grumpy about the presumptive Republican nominee, Sen. John McCain. “I don't want to have to choose between the lesser of two evils” is the oft-spoken reason for not choosing at all. The irony is, of course, that picking between bad and worse or between okay and marginally better is what people do every day. In this life, we rarely get to choose between the best and the worst. The choice isn’t between walking ten miles to work or taking the Rolls. It’s between sitting in traffic in a car, taking the bus or not going to work at all. Life is about assessing the costs and benefits and selecting the best option from imperfect alternatives. In the case of this election, there isn’t going to be a Ronald Reagan versus Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama match-up. It’s going to be John McCain versus the Democrat contender. Let’s be honest, leaving the line blank or casting a vote for an “ideal” third party candidate is in fact a vote for the Democrat. A better choice is the rational one – weigh the virtues and weaknesses of the viable candidates and vote. Just as in everyday life, the absence of the ideal does not diminish the importance of choosing wisely.

There are significant differences between the candidates. McCain has a mixed and in some cases an outright poor record on such policies as taxes, border security, free speech, and other issues. McCain is a lot like the big-government Republican who sits in the White House today.

However, whereas McCain’s record is mottled, Senators Obama and Clinton’s are perfectly abysmal. They support tax increases, socialized medicine, and super-sized federal spending. When the time comes, they will nominate Supreme Court justices who promote this agenda.

While it is reprehensible that McCain voted for taxpayer funding of lethal stem cell research, Clinton and Obama have voted against restrictions on late term abortions, against the confirmation of pro-life Supreme Court justices, and for taxpayer funding of lethal stem cell research. In short, their election would bring no hope for the country’s most vulnerable.

For some, this contrast is not sufficient to vote for McCain. It would not be the first time that a defection of a Republican bloc brought about the election of a Democrat. A recent column by Tony Blankley tells how the refusal of liberal Republicans to support Barry Goldwater helped put Lyndon Baines Johnson in the White House. Some will argue that living in the wilderness for decades helped purify the party. Whatever truth may exist in that sentiment, it is vastly overshadowed by the impact of LBJ’s presidency.

What Great Society or War on Poverty program have Republicans managed to dismantle? The National Endowment for the Arts? Public television? Head Start? Job Corps? Bilingual education programs? Health care entitlements? The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now known as the No Child Left Behind Act)? That would be none of the above. LBJ’s programs not only survived the Reagan Presidency and the Republican revolution of 1994, they’ve grown beyond LBJ’s wildest dreams. Immortal and virtually unassailable, these programs have done more than bust the budget; they have secured a sense of entitlement among a great many Americans. When natural disaster hits or the economy slows, Americans look to Washington rather than to themselves, their fellow countrymen or local government.

Republicans do not have the luxury of taking a holiday from public life to work on their principles, pull together and find a true heir to Reagan. There is a choice to be made this November and the greater evil is doing nothing.