What If John McCain Wins?

One of the reasons I stopped writing for Unconfirmed Sources about a year and a half ago (Oh, you stopped writing? Sorry, I hadn’t noticed.) was that I wasn’t worried about America anymore. America the concept, not the place, I mean. There would be an election soon, George W. Bush would finally be gone and, as Gerald Ford once said, “Our long national nightmare (would be) finally over.” And if even half the polls are partially correct, it looks Barack Obama will be president. Which is why I’m worried again. What if we wake up on the day after the election and John McCain is president? What happens then?

My initial tepid response to Barack Obama has long since given way to respect and expectation. I don’t regard him as the second coming, but I do hope he’ll be a reasonable facsimile of FDR…a voice of intelligent and thoughtful calm. I trust him to be a man who’ll surround himself with other intelligent and thoughtful men and women. I trust him to be pragmatic when dealing with the swirling kaleidoscope of economic, security and diplomatic issues that will confront him. I trust him to realize when he’s made a mistake (as he inevitably will) and correct it with all due speed.

There was a time I admired John McCain. He once seemed to be the closest thing to pragmatism that the Republican Party could offer. Now he just seems old and bitter, as if he’s realized that he lost his shot in 2000, but can’t do anything except go on anyway. He really believes it should have been him. And if any Republican should have won in 2000, God knows it should have been John McCain. But it wasn’t and we have to now just get back to the beginning. John McCain won’t bring us back to the beginning and this downward spiral of America will just go on until we drag the planet down with us.

I don’t believe Barack Obama will solve all our problems, far from it. In fact, he’ll create some new ones along the way, I’m sure. But I know that the day after the election, if he wins, America’s standing in the world will increase exponentially. Like it or not, America is part of the larger world and holds a peculiar status in it- people look to us for guidance and even a moral compass.

No matter what John McCain says, it’s not America First, at least not in the xenophobic way he means it. We lead, it’s true, but it should be by example. If we are not the moral compass, then who will be? Whether we like it or not and for a million different reasons over two hundred plus years America’s come to represent something to the rest of the world, something good. If nothing else comes of it, a Barack Obama presidency will bring that back to us in the eyes of the world. And at least that’s a start.