Many people think about voting in elections as choosing the lesser of two evils. I have cast one presidential ballot in my life, for George W. Bush in 2004. Even though I occasionally ponder the wisdom of that choice and whether I would vote for Bush again if I had the chance, I am confronted by the dilemma for non-interventionist, limited government, constitutionalist paleoconservatives such as myself.
I cannot in good conscience vote for John McCain. The Vietnam veteran gained prestige as a maverick by snubbing the Republican Party in general and conservatives in particular. And how do many conservatives intend to reward McCain? By voting him into the highest office in the land.
What about Hillary Clinton? While I recover from the mere suggestion of my conservative vote for Hillary, I should at least honestly consider the possibility. She’s the liberal we all love to hate. Some Republicans love to hate her so much that they are voting for her in Democratic primaries to confound Obama’s chance of securing the nomination thinking she would be easier to beat. As an observer of 1990's political battles, one thing I can be sure of is that Hillary Clinton is a fighter. The Clintons’ don’t lose pretty. And when or if they regain power it will be the 1990's all over again for conservatives, except maybe worse. This one has a chip on her shoulder and when asked about how she would make sure people accepted her universal health care plan she said, "Oh, there’ll be an enforcement mechanism."
Other conservatives such as Andrew J. Bacevich writing in the upcoming issue of "The American Conservative" suggest that Barack Obama is the choice for conservatives: http://www.amconmag.com/2008/2008_03_24/article.html. While I respectfully disagree with Professor Bacevich, I do believe his strategy makes an interesting point. Readers of the aforementioned periodical may remember that editor Scott McConnell endorsed John Kerry because the senator’s dearth of personality and charisma would be the best chance for conservatives to come back in 2008. However, now we are in 2008 and the presumptive nominee was someone whose name was once volleyed as a potential vice-presidential sidekick for the liberal senator from Massachusetts. In short, Mr. Bacevich writes an intriguing rationale for a vote for Obama, but voting for the even worse evil in the hope of a lesser evil next time has more uncertainties than I care to enumerate.
So, where might one cast a ballot? In a moral victory of sorts, Ron Paul is remaining on the ballot, which means that when I finally cast a primary ballot in May, I can still vote for my candidate of choice. There is always the distinct possibility that I will vote for the candidate of the Libertarian Party. Perhaps I will stay home altogether. Viewing the current crop of candidates is not something that excites me, but depresses me.
As said earlier, John McCain made himself a national candidate by saying to Republicans and conservatives, "Screw you!" As I plan to withhold my vote from him, I would like to think that I am saying, "Screw you back!"