I'll start with the good. John McCain has a different view on environmental policy than many Republicans. His lifetime percentage with the League of Conservation Voters is "26 percent, compared with an average of 16 percent for all Republicans. As recently as 2004, when his rating for the 108th Congress reached 56 percent, the league endorsed him for re-election to the senate". He introduced the first bill ever to regulate carbon emissions in the United States with Democrat -kind of- Joe Lieberman (go Connecticut!) in 2003. At the same time, his environmental policy is nebulous; it is almost a foregone conclusion that he will not seek to go as far as the Democrats, and he is supportive of using nuclear power. Against other Republicans, he is a breath of fresh air. Against a different democrat or with different policies in regard to taxation or women's rights, and he would still be a viable candidate. But Obama has a lifetime percentage of 96 from the LCV, and he "aim[s] for a reduction of 80 percent from 1990 levels by the year 2050, which most scientists think is the minimum necessary to head off the worst effects of climate change". He also "set a target of 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025 and 60 billion gallons of biofuel annually by 2030". As admirable as McCain's environmental policy is, Obama blows him out of the water.
But McCain has an absolutely abysmal record when it comes to women's rights, and I'm not just talking about Roe v. Wade. In an attempt to garner some votes from women who had previously supported Hillary, McCain is attempting to soften his image and play to the frustration of some of Hillary's supporters over the sexism she met during her campaign. But if women vote for McCain out of exasperation over Hillary's treatment, they will essentially be cutting off their noses to spite their face. As with many Republicans, McCain believes Roe v. Wade should be overturned. That is basically a given. But he also opposes efforts to ensure equal wages for equal work among men and women, he has voted against requiring healthcare plans to cover birth control, and voted against Medicaid funding for family planning for low-income families. And he voted against funding to prevent teen and unintended pregnancies. He garners a 0% rating from Planned Parenthood, and that is only because there is no negative percentiles on the scale.
McCain also opposes gay marriage, but I do respect his belief that it is a state rights issue and that he voted against a constitutional ban on gay marriage. I also give him kudos for voting to expand the definition of hate crimes to include sexual orientation. And although I do think he would be more responsible about war in general than Bush and although I agree with McCain about the dangers of pulling out of Iraq too early, I am concerned with his statements that the terrorists are more afraid of him than of Obama. The lack of understanding from Republicans in general that many terrorists do not arbitrarily hate America for our freedom and values (though some do) and that we have increased hatred for America through many of our policies abroad is truly frightening. I do, however, deeply respect his opinion that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center should be closed.
His view on taxes, which was "I cannot in good conscience support a tax cut in which so many of the benefits go to the most fortunate among us at the expense of the middle-class Americans who need tax relief" in May 2001, now unfortunately mirror Bush's view on tax cuts. Given the recent downturn in economic development, and given the recession we experienced under Reagonomics, I would prefer to prime the pump rather than allowing the tax cuts to trickle down.
The problem with this year's primary season and this year's presidential race is that after having a dearth of decent candidates on both sides for years, we now have a plethora of viable and respectable and wonderful candidates. McCain pledges to run a clean campaign, and I would love for a Republican who does so to win political office. But Obama's views on women's rights, on the environment, on taxes and gay rights and our position in the world, are much more progressive than McCain's. And McCain is much more of a conservative than the media attests to in their portrayal of him as a maverick. We need real change in this country, and although McCain would inch us forward, Obama promises feet of progress.