The Real Problem with Unity '08

Thursday, March 29, 2007

There is an article up at American Thinker that provides lots of interesting historical detail about the presidency of Andrew Johnson, the Democrat Abraham Lincoln chose as his running mate and who thus became his eventual successor.

Unfortunately, while the facts contained in this history lesson make for good reading, the argument they are marshaled to support does not follow from them. Author Michael Zak describes the disastrous Johnson Presidency in the vein of providing a warning that the idea of a bipartisan ticket in the upcoming 2008 presidential election would be a disaster.

The article fails in this respect on three counts. First, it assumes that there is any substantive difference -- There isn't. -- between the two parties from which the candidates would come. Second, it fails to examine the cultural origin of this similarity, as I discussed some time ago when considering the common political fantasy of a "third party" (of which Unity '08 is a variant) magically coming to the rescue:

And so, until the loony right takes a look in the mirror rather than dodging the issue by laughing at the equally loony left -- and vice versa -- there will be no alternatives to our current state of affairs, even if a third party, founded on better ideas, actually appears. Furthermore, for such a party to win, enough people would have to be more fully-consistent in their support for freedom to elect it or for it to have a lasting effect on the political landscape. (And such an occurrence would merely reflect a deeper cultural change among the electorate.)
Third -- and worst of all -- it ignores the biggest short-term disaster this election is most likely to bring. As noted in my previous blog post, John McCain is almost always regarded as the man who should head up such a ticket. How would the election of this co-sponsor of McCain-Feingold (i.e., censorship disguised as political "reform"), follower of the Church of Global Warming, and fan of National Service (to name just a few concrete vices) be anything but a disaster, no matter which ticket he headed up?

"Unity" is not the unlimited virtue some people believe it is, and Zak gets that much of the picture right. But when both parties are taking us down the same primrose path, the possibility of a Unity ticket merely distracts us from the real problem: We are going to have, in effect, at least two "unity tickets" come next November and John McCain stands an excellent chance of showing up on one of them. Even if I were I a Republican, I would have to campaign hard against John McCain, and even if he were running against Hillary Clinton.

We do not want any of what McCain has to offer, especially the discredit he would bring to the ideas -- economic freedom and strong national defense -- he would run on and immediately betray.

-- CAV

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