Over the last few days I have witnessed one of the greatest changes in the political scene since the fall of Richard Nixon and the rise of Ronald Reagan: the Republican Part went through a sea change then and as its tide ebbed and left the fish flopping on the sandy shoals, I expected it not to return. I have always counted Sen. McCain as one of those fish, flopping around as the sun baked the set sand and fish slowly dried out. Of course I view all of Congress that way, and still do. Senator McCain, however, has been singled out for special ire in his inability to recognize that while he may have gotten Lebanon right and the need for COIN right, he has fumbled on the basics of logistics, supply and training as critical needs for the military to assess those kinds of warfare. He may get policy right for some things and not right for others, including the peacekeeping and need for Congressional backing in the 1990's, during the time of the great draw down from the Cold War. I have fundamental and severe problems with hearing the comments of his backers who do not look at his record. For not holding to fiscal responsibility for military affairs and the support of same, along with the accountability called for by his colleagues, I have deep problems.
In public policy, he has been a supporter of entitlements and organizations funded by the government to actually bring suit against the government for individuals. He has supported quotas in the media and attempted to shut off citizenry access to low power FM capability where no normal stations reached, that while supporting greater Internet access not seeing that there is a continuum from local to international and that different communities can be served well by different media. Also in seeking federal intervention into cable right-of-ways, I see a deep misunderstanding of the concept of federalism, where the local situation is the best to make local decisions. I have seen him 'cross the aisle' to work on the 'gun show loophole' bill, where there was the right of Americans to assemble for their own interests without the oversight of the federal government so as to discuss and practice their fundamental liberties.
Beyond that his belief that money equals speech for campaigns and his attempts to put overly broad regulations into place that would endanger free speech in the political arena demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding between the role of speech in politics. Broadcasting a message only means it goes further, it does not mean it gains any depth or sway. Witness the attempts by Moveon.org and others to sway American's views towards the armed forces and their leader in Iraq and you will see a failed attempt to turn money into politics. Let us see and hear the idiots for what they are - they self-identify in a world of free speech. Money is a concern in campaign infrastructure, yes, and if you want the money out of politics then allow no financing, even self-financing of getting 'the message out'. And anyone who attempts to speak for a candidate that isn't the candidate should not do so - that gets money out of politics and makes candidates speak only for themselves with no intermediaries, no backers, no 'machine'. If you can't stomach that, then don't complain about the ill-minded wealthy who decide to bring their authoritarian brand of world view to the table... unless you don't trust your fellow citizens not to see authoritarianism for what it *is*. The antidote for free speech is not restrictions but more speech. And if Sen. McCain 'gets' the Internet then he should be all for free speech that is no longer intermediated by the MSM. The gatekeeper is still at the gate, the fence is being removed.
Finally, in the rule of law area, Sen. McCain has not supported a robust upholding of the nation's laws so as to end the intrusion of foreign illegal workers into the country. This is *not* just about the southern border, but about Snakeheads bringing indentured servants or outright slave labor to work in sequestered areas in our very nation. It is about rings that are international in scope allied with organized crime to bring in sex workers from overseas. And it is about terrorists working with organized crime to bring their backers into the US to help fund their groups and probe the nation's weaknesses. By conflating these problems and not being able to admit to the solution of just enforcing the law for everyone, Senator McCain has gained especial ire from me.
And still does.
Some of those views I can understand, like the Keating 5 scandal leading to try and clean up 'soft money' in politics. Of course just having every campaign be required to tell who their donors are and limit corporations to the same as individuals is too much for some... makes more sense than the passel of groups we get today with 'reform'. And anyone that wanted to put up a 'political ad' would also fall under full disclosure.
Others like supporting quotas, entitlements and other such things I am at a loss about from a man who calls himself a 'federalist'.
Then there is the lack of trying to stop pork barrel spending in the military budget while he was the head of the Senate Committee that drafted it. Yes, he would decry it. No, he did nothing to end it, which ends up with things like a $2 million biathlon course for a military facility in Alaska, I believe it was. And running out of ammo early after the start of hostilities and having to buy some from Canada, UK, France and other sources.
That puts me in a bind with Sen. McCain who has made politically expedient moves to get bills through, while claiming to take the moral high ground on those same items. You either fight for those things or you don't and shut up about them. Apparently that is not how Sen. McCain operates, and he has left a number of people who had thought him an ally by the wayside during his time in the Senate. I would be more comfortable with his verbiage if he bothered to explain it, so that one could reconcile his lovely anti-pork message with the problematic position of doing nothing to stop it. If you support the post-Cold War draw-down, then don't complain about the lack of men, equipment and training a decade later after you had voted to help cause those exact, same problems.
His tactical outlook is very good.
His strategic and logistics outlook is awful.
Gets you lots of great equipment with a lack of batteries, yet another minor problem that showed up in Afghanistan and Iraq early on.
The man has had 25 years or so to 'shake up Washington' and has done very little in that regard.
His tactical brilliance on the campaign trail is dead-on, to the point of picking a pro-reformer Governor, Sarah Palin, who achieved more in two years as Governor of Alaska than Sen. McCain has in his decades in Congress. She has demonstrated that the future of political conservatism that actually does what it says and means it is bright: Americans can still pick such people and they can also be popular at the exact, same time. She is the 21st century of politician while Sen. McCain is still in the 20th century of 'bipartisan reform'. There are times that I begin to wonder if they aren't from different parties... but they are definitely from different eras.
What this comes down to is that the McCain/Palin ticket has two and very stark cultures at work. Not only tactically brilliant to choose Sarah Palin, but necessary to kick-start the 21st century of politics, and firmly take a step away from the late 20th century that both parties have been mired in for 8 years. That cultural shift is a winner, as it takes the step to start reaching out to the blue collar and rural communities of what used to be the solid Democratic center, but is now becoming the forgotten and disdained Democratic Right. They got their wake-up call in 1968 when, as George McGovern put it, 'we threw open our doors to the public, and people started walking out'. Walking out on the 'younger generation', the radicals, the Leftists, the Communists, the racial quota backers...
That cultural difference is *not* Right/Left as it has been cast... not political. That cultural divide is Urban/Rural, and two entirely different set of rules apply. Cities need strong centralized management, Small Towns need distributed and cooperative ways of dealing with things. Cities propose all sorts of centralized ways of doing things, Small Towns and Rural areas recognize the necessity of inconvenience to lead a good life. Cities have tried to claim the suburbs via agglomeration, while the suburbs slowly shift to interior modes of management that is dispersed. This is the great Interstate Bypass Divide in America: if you live inside the Bypass you are Urban, if you live outside you join Small Town and Rural America. Only the truly huge Metropolitan areas don't follow this: LA, Miami to an extent, Chicago, New York City, Boston. If you life in a suburb and don't work in the city, you fall on the outer part of that divide.
This is also the future of much in the way of work, especially managerial work, but even some industrial work will start to feel the influence of the modern world. It is called 'telecommuting'. It is called 'remotely operated equipment'. It is called 'Open Source Manufacturing/Robotics/Source Code'. What you do will slowly no longer tell you where to live, and that means that each person and each job no longer requires industrial infrastructure. Cities will always be hubs of culture, commerce and serve as ways to flex organizations that require co-location to work. Much of the work, however, for all those things that don't depend on that infrastructure, will begin to see populations shift in America. And even if you don't shift, due to the attraction of the other things cities offer, you will begin to realize that your culture is shifting away from all of the things that make cities central to life and to one of more distributed outlooks. That is the future of American work, until we finally agree to start shifting some of that work to a new frontier.
There is a different outlook to these two sections of America and that has been the case since before the Revolution. After the Revolution the Shaysites nearly brought the place down, as they represented the outer part of that divide. Sen. McCain is still preaching the centralized, bi-partisan manner of decision making from Washington. While Alaska typifies the distributed, dispersed form, especially considering that the links of some communities are not roads, but airfields, rivers and ocean-side docks. That form of thinking that goes with that environment is depending upon yourself, not government, and it is more closely akin to Rural and Small Town America.
That is the majority of the Nation, in case folks haven't had a nice road trip in their lives. You can drive 12 hours straight on the interstate and *still* not reach the end of America.
Sen. McCain is looking to try and expand the choir.
Unfortunately the conductor is tone-deaf.
We are heading into the dawn of a new era of our Nation. Many of the old things will be retained: our love of country, love of liberty, support of freedom, and the awesome beauty of the land our forefathers gave to us by dint of hard work over decades. While we will be more decentralized in our outlooks, the firm need to have a central set of ideals that are supporting them becomes firmer, lest we lose our liberties to government, to tyrants, to dictators and despots of all stripes. That is where the Republican party stands, today, with its nominees: one rooted firmly into the old 'reform' ideals and one stepping into the new era of ethical governance. The ideals remain the same, but what they mean, on the ground, must change over this next decade so that we may shift with the changes that will happen, and yet still hold to the equality of all men under the law. Where we abide by not centralizing government because that does not reflect the best way to govern save for very, very few things: administer justice, uphold our liberties, and protect our people from the harsh world that would disdain our freedoms and seek to bring down liberty and put tyranny in its place. This heritage will still be here for all Americans, even if they roam away from the clutches of our gravity: America is more than a place, it is a way to live and conduct oneself with your fellow man.
Can this tone-deaf conductor slowly ease aside his ego and start to look that some of the problems in Washington are part of himself?
Can he give Gov. Palin her opportunity to speak through the rural areas of the Nation to let them hear how it is good culture that creates good government, and that the best government is the most accountable?
Sen. McCain has demonstrated his tactical brilliance in this campaign.
He has taken a strategic march on the opponents of liberty at home and abroad by choosing Gov. Palin.
Can he recognize that?
And will he carry through and do what is necessary to enact those changes and start expanding the Republican Party to these other Rural and Small Town areas that have been ignored by their rivals?
He often talks a good game.
Now it is time to carry through.
And mean it.
The upcoming days and month or so will tell if he understands where he is... or if he is just a brilliant 20th century politician who has had a masterstroke that will turn into smoke as he grasps it.
Americans have always given a second chance to those politicians who have seen that they can and do stray from being what they purport to be. I am willing to give Sen. McCain that opportunity because the future of my Nation requires it. My trust is not so easily won, however, given his record. He has little time to show it, and yet the earnest work is not that hard... if he understands where he is at.
The 20th century is over.
Welcome to the 21st.