Presidential Endorsement

For a long time, I’ve sat back on the sidelines trying not to get involved with the political process via this blog. This does not mark the time where I *begin* however there is a process here whereby people and groups shift their allegiances one way or another.

I also believe that this country is far too divided for its own good. Politics is not a zero-sum game where if one candidate wins, everyone else on the other side loses. That’s how the game is played but it is far from the reality of everyday life. In fact, we are all shades of grey between the bedrocks of party politics in one way or another and that is why I am conservative, yet fiercely independent.

On both sides, there are good ideas and bad ideas and if voters can objectively step back from party brinksmanship, I think we can all find good qualities and stances on each side.

For instance, I believe that McCain is more moderate than his campaign is letting on. He has a tough battle to secure undecided conservatives who don’t like him. The Gang of 14 move a few years soured many conservatives to him and McCain-Feingold dramatically influenced the military-industrial complex that is largely pro-war because it’s good for business and undercut their ability to have late-campaign influence in the election. McCain has to play the conservative part to sure up a wobbly base that will have defectors to Obama. These undecided conservative voters, if for nothing else, want to send a message.’

However, I believe a McCain administration actually would be highly centrist but his ability to work with a Democratic Congress would be stunted by the perceptions of a McCain presidency as a Bush third term. That said, I’m always a fan of divided government and things not getting done in Washington. History shows that government involvement in things better left to the citizenry or private sector is usually problematic in the long run.

However, McCain also concerns me. Frankly, his stance on illegal wiretapping is problematic. In 2006, McCain appeared on Fox News Sunday to say that he did not believe President Bush at the Constitutional authority to engage in the warrantless wiretaps of U.S. citizens but that he thought Congress would grant that authority if asked. This is still unconstitutional and I called for the President’s impeachment on this point, and this point alone. The Constitution would need to be amended to make it legal – otherwise the 4th Amendment is in play.

He reiterates his case, more strongly, late last year in an interview with the Boston Globe.

Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?

There are some areas where the statutes don’t apply, such as in the surveillance of overseas communications. Where they do apply, however, I think that presidents have the obligation to obey and enforce laws that are passed by Congress and signed into law by the president, no matter what the situation is.

Okay, so is that a no, in other words, federal statute trumps inherent power in that case, warrantless surveillance?

I don’t think the president has the right to disobey any law.

Recently, however, the presidential hopeful has taken exactly the opposite stance backing the President’s impeachable offenses. The National Review published this letter from a McCain Adviser “setting the record straight”:

Here is the bottom line: Senator McCain supports the FISA modernization bill (PDF) passed by the Senate without qualification. He believes no additional steps should be necessary to secure immunity for the telecoms;

<snip>

As you know, the FISA modernization legislation passed by the Senate earlier this year sets forth clear guidelines authorizing the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence to direct a telecom company to immediately provide the government with all information necessary to protect Americans from foreign threats and outlines legal procedures with respect to any challenges of this authority. Additionally, the bill requires the Attorney General and the Director to assess compliance of the intelligence community with minimization techniques. These types of modernization provisions placed in the bill are the “œclear guidelines” and “œvetting processes” I stated that Senator McCain, like a majority of his colleagues, supports.

Folks, I support warrantless wiretaps on foreign suspects in foreign countries. I don’t support those wiretaps when American citizens are involved. Quite simply, the fourth Amendment requires due process. While I support FISA, I do not support the ignoring of FISA. McCain has supported a FISA Modernization bill that would make it easier for the government to obtain warrants, even after the fact, for suspected terrorists or suspects in or outside of the United States. That’s good. What concerns me is the willingness to continue the status quo absent any action by Congress.

On the Obama side, I’m concerned by the sense that there would be a single party ruling Washington. I’m also concerned by the cost of programs like universal health insurance that would put the weight of a multi-trillion dollar program on the backs of taxpayers who are cash-strapped from war, rising oil prices and unemployment. I’m concerned about a lack of any real plan on Iraq. That said, no one has a plan.

However, Obama represents a change in Washington that, regardless of politics, I think everyone agrees is needed. We are a Nation weary of what we’ve had for eight years and not wanting to continue the same pattern. While Obama does not have executive experience – in a company, in a city state or county or in national government, he does command the imagination of the American people and I’d expect he would have competent advisers to help him.

I do not agree with partisan snark. I think there’s enough blame for our current state of affairs to go around on both sides. I don’t believe that by voting Democrat, you are invoking doomsday or by voting Republican, Roe v. Wade is going to magically disappear via some vast right-wing conspiracy. However, based on my single question of impeachability of the current president, I cannot in good conscience consider John McCain. In the spirit of change and inspiration, and with a moral opposition to contraconstitutional governmental behavior, I endorse Barack Obama for President of the United States.

As a sidenote, I will leave comments open but will close them if I feel the comments are distracting or anti-productive. This is a subjective post and I reserve the right to be subjective about comments. Thanks, play nice kids.

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