First and foremost, I have nothing but respect for Senator John McCain. Every American owes him that, as well as enduring appreciation for his service to the country. Respect and appreciation do not, however entitle one to ascendancy to the most powerful position on earth.
There are considerations each of us should consider carefully when it comes to the prospect of a McCain presidency. As he claims to be, he is a “fiscal conservative,” opposed to “government, pork barrel waste.” Those coded GOP phrases are decoded as being almost always opposed to government sponsored and funded social programs. Examples the GOP detests include extensions of healthcare programs for children who would otherwise be without any genuine healthcare, federal aid for education, broadening veterans’ medical benefits, federal support and oversight of the extension of workers’ rights to bargain collectively, workplace protections . . . that sort of thing and more, the likes of which I’m sure others can supplement.
That’s one consideration.
Another goes to the president’s right and obligation to nominate justices to the federal judiciary, most importantly the district courts and the Supreme Court. The decisions made there often affect all Americans and can so influence everyday life for generations; especially affect each and all of us negatively when the balance of the bench is weighted too heavily on one side or the other.
Today, the courts are so far to the neocon end of the teeter-totter that we’re seriously in peril of teetering over the edge. (To facilitate easy reference to how your United States Supreme Court decided things in the 2006 session, I’m providing the following website: http://www.usscplus.com/current/.)
The Courts have traditionally refrained from “political” cases. For example, the House might care to take the Senate to court over a matter. But the courts would stay clear, even though the first court of jurisdiction would be the Supreme Court. It would be a “political question,” regardless what the question was. “You guys figure it out yourselves.”
Similarly, the 2000 Bush v Gore decision should have been a “political question” on the one hand, and a failure by Bush to establish standing on the other. To establish “standing,” (needed as a prerequisite to come before the bench), George Bush asserted he would be irreparably harmed if the Florida Court’s decision to proceed with a recount of votes. How Bush would be irreparably harmed, and Gore not were the Court to decide as it did has never been adequately answered. No matter, the Court did take the case and decided it, tortured legal logic notwithstanding, on straight 5-4 party lines.
Remember the “Bong hits for Jesus” case? Frederick, a student, not during school hours and standing across the street, not on school property, unfurled a banner that read “Bong hits for Jesus.” The school principal reprimanded the student for endorsing illegal drug use. The Supreme Court held that it could decipher the intentions of the student (I still can’t guess what “Bong hits for Jesus” means.) and that the principal had the in parental locus — acting with authority in the place of and on behalf of a child’s parents — right to suspend Frederick from school, and concomitantly that the student enjoyed no First Amendment right to free speech.
As you can do it via the address reference cited, I will not traipse on noticing other cases the Court decided this past session, other than to observe each and every one was against workers and consumers, and 100% for the interests of powerful corporations.
One of the current cases being heard involves voter ID, and the State of Indiana's effort to raise preemptive barriers, ostensibly to prevent fraudulent voting.
However, a first principle: It is not the votes that are cast that counts, but the votes that are counted that count. If you can discourage a sufficient number of voters from even casting ballots that you do not want to see cast you have an even better strategy. The State of Georgia made the attempt to influence elections in the state by insisting registered voters — overwhelmingly the poor, minorities, and the elderly, most of whom predominantly vote Democratic, and who compose the vast majority of those without state issued drivers licenses — either have or obtain, for a fee and obtained at rather inconvenient and limited sites, state issued identification cards. Georgia’s case was shot down on purely technical grounds; the grounds having since been removed and the law now in effect.
When it comes to laws of this nature, the state must first demonstrate a “compelling state interest” in the law it seeks the Court to enforce via adjudication on its behalf. Indiana is the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan and is a perennial anchor of Republican “conservatism.” (Yes, I know: fairly liberal, Democratic Senator Evan Bayh is from Indiana. But it is the effort of the GOP to rectify this noxious situation, as it has elsewhere, I am targeting.) The state does not allege that a single case of voter fraud has been found, only that one might be found at some future — say, this November — date.
It’s important to add that it is essential to our democracy is that those voting fraudulently be discouraged from voting. To that objective, however the evidence is manifest that the present penalties for fraudulently casting ballots are indeed adequate to the ends sought. Regardless that has not stopped and is not slowing the GOP from its quest to use any means possible, that it can get away with, to either gain or keep control. And as we have seen, to ours and the world’s sad disadvantage, it will rely on the courts as partners in its ongoing efforts.
Today there is no balance in our federal judiciary. Republicans only seem to decry “activist judges” when judges rule against them. As with Bush v Gore and the slurry of cases found for the party’s clients . . . no problem.
And this brings me to Senator McCain and the scenario that might well place him in the Oval Office.
Do I suppose that Senator McCain might otherwise be an acceptable president, handling international matters as effectively as anyone else? Yes I do. Nonetheless, it’s the domestic issues, the ones that go to our guts every day, and concerns over his court nominees that cause me, and should all Americans, considerable alarm.