TAC’s endorsement issue has many different arguments for a number of candidates and write-ins, as well as for the option of not voting. Having already endorsed (and voted absentee for) Chuck Baldwin, I won’t restate my points here, but I would recommend Joe Sobran’s endorsement of Baldwin as a good, succinct argument for voting for the Constitution Party candidate. I have a lot of respect for the non-voting, don’t-legitimize-the-result, withdraw-in-disgust option, and it was tempting, but for whatever reason voting has become an ingrained habit that I have always felt compelled to practice despite understanding full well its staggering irrelevance. Having been inclined to back Barr at one time, I can’t fault anyone who ended up supporting him, but in the end I’m not a libertarian and I don’t see the point in casting protest votes against the Party of Immigration, Imperialism and Insolvency (which I should specify is really just the appropriate designation of whichever major party holds the most power in Washington) when the candidate is not really protesting against one or more of these things. Paul Gottfried makes a related point in his Baldwin endorsement.
As for support for Nader, it is getting harder and harder to disagree with our left conservative friends when they say:
The anti-imperial, pro-civil liberties, pro-constitution base is not on the right. It is on the left.
This doesn’t mean that there is no support for these things on the right, but it does mean that it is pretty clearly much weaker. That will be driven home yet again as Nader stands to get twice or even three times the level of support of either right-wing third-party candidate. This is one of the reasons why many dissident conservatives are understandably so wary of left-right alliances, as the numerical superiority of left-libertarians and antiwar progressives promises to make any protest movement into a movement dominated by the left.
What of McCain? Leave aside for the moment that the outcome of the election is all but certain, and that McCain is probably going to suffer the worst defeat for a Republican nominee since 1964. The divided government argument for McCain sounds appealing at first, and I can see some merit in it, but McCain is exactly the wrong kind of Republican to have as President during a Democratic ascendancy. Eager to get back in the good graces of his first and true love, the media, and anxious to demonstrate his willingness to collaborate with Democratic leaders to re-establish the public persona he spent so many years cultivating, he will roll over for almost anything the Congress sends to him, unless it involves bringing an end to unnecessary foreign wars. An amnesty bill is far more important to him and it is a much higher priority for him than it is for Obama, whose position on the question is admittedly no better, so I think it is correct to assume that an immigration bill is much less likely to be passed under unified government than it would be under divided government. There was significant opposition for different reasons on the Democratic side to the last “comprehensive” bill, and there is an even greater chance of a purely anti-Democratic backlash if an Obama administration attempted to force the legislation on their reluctant conservative and marginal district House members. As with the deeply unpopular bailout, the Democrats will want the cover of broad bipartisan support for an amnesty bill, and that support will be much more likely if McCain is in the White House.
The only main argument for Obama from the right that is remotely persuasive combines a call for accountability and a correct, negative assessment of McCain. Whatever else you might say about him, Fukuyama makes exactly this argument and so has made what is to my mind the most credible case for why someone on the right would vote for Obama. I have never found this argument persuasive enough, and in the end I don’t quite see how anyone on the right can endorse a candidate with whom he disagrees on most or all things for purely punitive or negative reasons, but as an argument why McCain should not President (and why, by default, Obama will have to be President) it is difficult to find a flaw in this statement:
It is hard to imagine a more disastrous presidency than that of George W. Bush. It was bad enough that he launched an unnecessary war and undermined the standing of the United States throughout the world in his first term. But in the waning days of his administration, he is presiding over a collapse of the American financial system and broader economy that will have consequences for years to come. As a general rule, democracies don’t work well if voters do not hold political parties accountable for failure. While John McCain is trying desperately to pretend that he never had anything to do with the Republican Party, I think it would a travesty to reward the Republicans for failure on such a grand scale.
McCain’s appeal was always that he could think for himself, but as the campaign has progressed, he has seemed simply erratic and hotheaded. His choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate was highly irresponsible; we have suffered under the current president who entered office without much knowledge of the world and was easily captured by the wrong advisers. McCain’s lurching from Reaganite free- marketer to populist tribune makes one wonder whether he has any underlying principles at all.