A Difference In Worldview
Worried? You probably are. The economy is in dreadful shape, unemployment is over six percent, Bear Sterns, Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae have all recently required massive government bailouts to survive, and the investment bank Lehman Brothers has gone bankrupt. Hurricanes have done massive amounts of damage to the Gulf Coast, rendering two large cities (Houston and Galveston) uninhabitable, and have devastated most of our offshore drilling facilities as well. As a result, gas prices (which were decreasing, at least a little bit) are skyrocketing. And, of course, the threat of radical Islam remains. Things are bad.
Whichever candidate can convince the nation that he can best deal with these challenges will almost certainly be elected president. Ideology will play a role, so will image and biography, but perhaps the most important factor will be worldview. And a comparison there would favor John McCain.
For all the allegations of that Obama views America negatively (and there is some truth to those charges), Obama’s vision of America is pretty cheery. Obama’s America is one where all that foreign policy stuff is basically under control, so much so that one of America’s biggest foreign policy worries is that the French take a dim view of our actions in Iraq. And really, Obama’s vision of the economy is pretty optimistic as well—our current troubles notwithstanding, he evidently thinks that a nationalized healthcare system would somehow save the American people money.
Obama has some attractive ideas (attractive, at any rate, to a certain type of person), but they seem to be ideas for a nice, settled, prosperous time. It would be great to finally elect an African-American president. (Well, Obama is really only half African—apparently, any African blood at all qualifies one as being wholly black. Not that being black is a weakness or a bad thing, but I had hoped that we had moved on from the one drop rule. Tiger Woods is considered just black, but he is actually half Asian, which everyone forgets about, and which seems a bit insulting to Asians). Most people would love to live at the moment when the rise of the oceans begins to slow and we end the war and restore our image and reflect our best selves—but really, perhaps it’d be good idea to put all stuff that on hold. Maybe just until gas prices go down.
Whatever one may think of his policies, John McCain has lived through crisis. In his youth, he survived the worst aircraft carrier fire in history, as well as five years in a North Vietnamese prison. He has lived though all the important events of the last half century (it’s amazing to realize that during the last really bad economic downturn, during the late seventies, John McCain was then nearly as old as Barack Obama is now). For the last twenty-five years, McCain has served in Congress. John McCain understands the world we live in—he helped make it.
All that affects McCain’s worldview. He realizes that we live in a dangerous world—not dangerous only from a military standpoint, but from a social and economic perspective as well. His visions are more modest than Obama’s—Obama’s ambition is to heal the planet; McCain’s is to cut down on earmarks—but his plans are also more achievable, more pragmatic. Obama lives in a lofty, inspirational world, where good intentions are rewarded, war is usually unnecessary, and hope beats cynicism. John McCain’s world is the opposite, darker—but more realistic.
Of all the concerns voters have about presidential candidates, possibly the most significant is this: in a crisis, how would you operate? It’s impossible to adequately answer that question—nothing a candidate does before assuming the presidency could possibly compare to the pressures and difficulty of a full-blown national crisis. But a candidate’s worldview can provide some insight—and McCain’s worldview is much more suited to today’s world than is Obama’s.