For all of John McCain's admirable qualities as a man, as a politician he has a disturbing tendency to jump on the bandwagon of fashionable liberal causes. Too often when a bad idea has captured the collective imagination of liberals-whether it was campaign-finance regulation, hysteria over global warming, or embryonic stem-cell research-McCain has stood with them or even led them. It's no coincidence that he's had to rely on non-Republican voters to become the Republican frontrunner.
But, should he gain the GOP nomination, evangelical conservatives should keep in mind three huge issues facing this country:
- The war against Islamic terrorism. McCain's record here is well known and speaks for itself. So do the records of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
- The Supreme Court. The high court is closer than it has ever been to overturning Roe v. Wade, and a few justices are likely to leave the court in the next few years. We cannot be sure of the type of jurists McCain would nominate (although he says they would be like John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and he is a man of his word), but we can be absolutely sure of the type Clinton or Obama would offer up. If conservatives sit out the November election and help elect the Democratic candidate, they may play a role in cementing Roe in place for another generation.
- Spending. McCain had the political courage to vote against President Bush's multi-trillion dollar expansion of Medicare-one that will saddle future generations with much higher taxes and weaken the economy substantially if left unchecked. He's one of the few conservative legislators with a record of standing up to the appropriators on pork projects. It isn't difficult at all to envision McCain picking fights with Congress over spending, something President Bush was unwilling to do for far too long.
As aliens and strangers in the world, evangelicals should be the least susceptible people to expectations of purity in a political candidate. We'll never have perfection in government this side of heaven. We have no reason to make the perfect the enemy of the, well, so-so.