First, congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama for winning the 2008 presidential election. As an American before a Republican, I wish him well, for if he succeeds, America succeeds. That does not mean, however, that I am thrilled, excited or in awe. I am one of the 57.8 million Americans who cast a vote for Sen. John McCain this past Election Day.
While my candidate for president lost, the members of McCain’s coalition can take solace in the fact that we fought a good fight. McCain’s campaign was one of real ideas and substantive change, not a campaign of fancy words and improbable claims. Change for the sake of change is not a solution, nor an answer.
McCain’s campaign was about fundamental principles: belief in low taxes and limited government, a stark contrast from the previous eight years in which America, for better or worse, saw the largest expansion of government since President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the 1960s. McCain made a career out of being a budget hawk. Committing himself to a campaign of tax cuts and reducing wasteful earmark spending, McCain rallied a broad coalition of like-minded, fiscally sound Americans. Obama, on the other hand, has proposed over a trillion dollars in new government spending. We, as Americans, already share the burden of the largest debt in history. Now is not the time for new spending plans and government expansion. Now, more than ever, is a time to live within our means, and McCain understood that.
The war in Iraq was supposed to be the defining issue of the 2008 election, but something happened. The troop surge, something McCain hinged his entire presidential election campaign on, turned out to be a resounding success. Violence and fighting has been reduced to the city limits of Baghdad. Anbar province, once the source of the insurgency, has been autonomously governing and policing itself for months and has just signed agreements to resume oil production. The judgment McCain displayed on this issue of great importance has been right from day one. Obama cannot compare on this issue. His routine quote stating “his opposition to the war” from his days as an Illinois state senator shows a real lack of judgment. At the time Obama was not privy to the national intelligence reports or the daily intelligence briefings made available to members of Congress and the president. McCain made his principled decision based on facts and what he knew from his own military days.
In just the few days that he has been called president-elect, we have already seen Obama heading in the wrong direction on a key issue: Guantanamo Bay. A recent Quinnipiac University poll shows Americans, almost two to one, support keeping terrorists behind bars there. Obama has already pledged to dissolve the prison. America needs principled, steady leadership in this decisive time in history.
I hope Obama will reverse his stances on these critical issues. We all need to rally around our president as Americans before partisans. However, the only way for McCain supporters to fully back our new president is to know he advocates policies that protect our national security and our belief in a free market economy, to know that individual liberty and personal responsibility are pillars of our society.
Kyle Battaglia is a senior and the executive director of the College Republicans.