Dear Senator John McCain,
You probably don’t remember me. Eight years ago as you mounted the Straight Talk Express during the Republican Primary, I sent you a couple bucks because I thought you were poised to be a great leader. Clinton was wrapping up his time in office and I felt you were the best candidate to follow him. Times were good, weren’t they? I was a college student at the time – just a blank slate of a freshman excited to vote in my first presidential primary.
You were a veteran with a long record of bipartisan work in the senate. I remember watching your candidacy announcement speech in the fall of ’99 and getting goosebumps as you talked of service and the possibilities that awaited us. It was a really good speech.
I followed nervously as you took an early hit in Iowa but, like most of your supporters, I celebrated your New Hampshire win as a potential turning point. I then watched the entire race unravel in South Carolina as unthinkable smear tactics and racial tensions began to surface. We now call those tactics “Rovian.” It was despicable, but proved to be the silver bullet for your campaign.
I still voted for you in Ohio, even though it was pretty much a done deal at that point. The writing was on the wall and the fate of our country for the next eight years was set. We had no idea what was in store, but I can guess that if we had a chance for a do-over, if we could somehow go back as an entire nation to early 2000, the outcome would be different. G. W. Bush would go back to Texas and the future would be in your hands.
Well, time travel hasn’t been invented, so here we are in 2008. Senator McCain, if I can be frank, I am pretty surprised by your approach to this election. My ideals and political leanings have shifted considerably, but I was excited to see you win your party’s nomination. I thought this was going to be an amazing presidential race – one that historians would write about for generations as one of the most important presidential races in history. Instead, I fear, you have given up the Straight Talk Express in favor of the very same tactics that derailed your 2000 campaign. As a political leader I once admired and even supported financially, I find it disheartening to see what your campaign has stooped to.
Some time ago, you stopped talking about policy. You stopped talking about ideas. You stopped talking about moving forward. Not once in the past two months have I heard anything substantive from your campaign. People, whether your campaign staff believes it or not, want to hear you talk about the future with hope AND direction. Instead, we get unsubstantiated rumors, half-truths, and innuendos. Your mocking tone, rolling eyes, and air quote gestures make you look petty and angry.
Your most important decision so far – picking a vice president – was a flop. I know it seemed like a good idea at the time. All of those disenfranchised Clinton supporters had to vote for someone, right? Why not give them what they want? But instead of selecting a running mate for the good of the country, you pandered. You passed by dozens of qualified candidates – diverse in gender, ethnicity, political experience – and picked someone who would appeal to the least common denominator. Your campaign had talking points in place before the announcement was made, but soon the hot air started to leak. The most popular governor in America soon saw her numbers plummet. She was exposed, but your campaign stubbornly repeated the very same talking points on as many 24 hour news channels as possible.
And here we are now, with only a week before the election, and the worst of your disastrous campaign was apparently saved for last. Giving up any talk of direction or hope, you instead have completely turned to the Rovian politics that have now disenfranchised an entire generation of voters. You repeat catch phrases filled with fear-inducing innuendo in an effort to make us think twice about electing Senator Obama. You infer, and now outright say, that he is a dangerous politician with socialist ideals because you know what that word does to people. Regardless of the fact that our country’s most socialist-like policy, the 1986 expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit, was signed into law by Ronald Regan, you throw the word redistribution around like it is somehow a new evil plan crafted by the left.
But this is where we end up, I guess. Who knows? Maybe your fear-laced words will strike a chord with enough voters to shift the election in your direction after all and I’ll look foolish. I’m used to it by now. I just hope that if you do happen to win over enough states to hit that magical 270 that you leave your campaign tactics behind as you head to Pennsylvania Avenue. Surely even you can recognize that the John McCain and Sarah Palin from the campaign trail are not the types of leaders this country needs or wants, right?
Oh well, here’s hoping that the bitterness ends on November 5, regardless of outcome.
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