It’s no secret that John McCain and other conservatives have not always gotten along.
Whether it be the issue of immigration, tax cuts, or campaign finance reform, he seems to have found himself at odds with self-described “true conservatives” throughout his long tenure in the Senate. Honestly, I myself had plenty of reservations about John McCain and was uneasy at the prospect of his nomination to the GOP ticket.
As such, I was waiting with a certain amount of trepidation this past Friday to hear who the Republican nominee would choose as his running mate. When rumors circulated that individuals such as Joe Liberman, former Democratic senator turned independent and VP candidate to Al Gore were being seriously considered, conservatives such as myself had reason to fear.
And while it is true that conservatives will still have disagreements with some of John McCain’s positions, we all have more reason to be excited over his campaign after the nomination of Sarah Palin, the current governor of Alaska, as his vice presidential running mate. Governor Palin brings to the McCain ticket what he so desperately needed — real support from the conservative base of the Republican Party.
Don’t get me wrong here — conservatives were always going to vote for John McCain. Regardless of the disagreements that we had with the senator, they were not nearly enough to turn the vast majority of conservative voters to support the liberal ideals of the Obama campaign.
However, elections tend to go awry when the majority of your support base is voting against the other candidate rather than voting for you (i.e. John Kerry, 2004). So what is it about Gov. Palin that has many supporters so excited?
Put it this way, she is far from the norm, and that’s a good thing. In her eighteen months as Governor of Alaska, Palin has reduced spending — including refusing federal funding for the famous bridge-to-nowhere pushed through Congress by Sen. Ted Stevens, worked to give money back to citizens of her state, fought corruption within her own party and even had a baby.
She is pro-life, supports drilling here in the U.S. and especially in her home state, and is a long-standing member of the National Rifle Association. Of course, with her announcement as the VP candidate on Friday, the smear campaign has already begun, with the Obama camp and its many friends in the media touting her lack of experience and questioning if she would be ready to lead should McCain bite the bullet.
Personally, I welcome this debate over experience considering that the Republican ticket has more executive experience from its VP candidate than the Democrats do with their presidential candidate, and when it comes to foreign policy, it’s true Sarah Palin does not come with extensive experience, but neither does Barack Obama.
The point is, Barack Obama is running for president.
Sarah Palin is running for vice president.
Considering that on foreign affairs the knowledge the two have is just about even, it’s liberals who need to be concerned about their candidate, not conservatives.
Of course the leftist media will continue to drudge up reports on Sarah Palin, doing all they can to discredit her name, even if it means bringing her daughter into the conversation, when even the Obama camp is unwilling to go there.
But that’s the nature of the beast. Gov. Palin knew it would come, and so did the McCain campaign. But in the end, such reports will do little to change the facts. Gov. Palin was a strong, smart, and politically savvy choice that could potentially push this election further to McCain’s favor while rallying what was a very mute conservative base to his campaign.
The “maverick” made the strong choice on this one.
Caleb Thornton is a senior political science major. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.