Monday, February 4, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

As has been noted in many places in the last several days (for example), there is a debate concerning exactly how “Republican” and/or “conservative” that John McCain actually is. It strikes me that while the remaining primary process will not settle the issue of McCain’s conservatism (nor will it necessarily help refine the current understanding of that term within American politics), the issue of McCain Republicanism will be definitively settled.

Consider: what is more “Republican” than being the party’s nominee? Indeed, once he secures the nomination he will be the titular head of the party and will have direct influence over the RNC itself. As such, not only will McCain’s GOP bona fides be rock solid, he will have more influence over the party than those who currently find him distasteful.

Indeed, to reach the position of the party’s nominee he will have to have won the support of a majority of Republican voters, which again undercuts any argument that he isn’t a “Republican.”

As such, Republican he is, and many in the commentariat will simply have to get used to the idea.

Really, all of this should be self evident, but clearly some within the GOP are having an identity crisis at the moment and they do not understand how political parties and party labels work.

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8 Responses to “On McCain and Definitional Issues”

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    1. MSS Says:

      to reach the position of the party’s nominee he will have to have won the support of a majority of Republican voters

      And why would that be? It is still a multicandidate race, and the Republican Party awards most of its delegates by block plurality (sometimes statewide, sometimes in congressional districts, sometimes a mix).

      In no way does McCain need a majority of Republicans to win the nomination. And that is before we even get into the issue of independent or cross-over voters.

      My calculations show he has won barely over 1/3 of the votes cast so far, yet even before ‘Super Tuesday’ he already has about half of the delegates allocated based on those votes (and a huge lead over Romney, who is only a few percentage points of the vote behind McCain).

      I expect his popular-vote lead to grow, but not as fast as his delegate lead.

    2. tony camele Says:

      “Consider: what is more “Republican” than being the party’s nominee?…Indeed, to reach the position of the party’s nominee he will have to have won the support of a majority of Republican voters, which again undercuts any argument that he isn’t a “Republican.”

      The use of “Republican” in place of Republican (without inverted commas) acknowledges that there is ambiguity, perhaps confusion about the meaning of the word. More important, however, are the implications of the passages quoted above. The statements imply that principles are simply the containers of whatever a constituency — or a candidate, leader,duce, fuhrer – decides to put in them; principles are not commitments upon which and by which persons point and govern their behavior regardless of the direction in which circumstances or less principled persons lead.

      Relativism is, of course, the prevailing view in our society. The above statements express that view. The question, then, is not whether McCain is a “Republican”; the question is, why bother asking such questions? Assuming relativism, who is to say what is the correct answer to the question, what are the incorrect answers? And if no one is to say — except, of course for oneself — of what point is discussion of the question? No one comes away knowing anything more than when he first started reviewing the opinions. No one is any the wiser.

    3. FromTheTop Says:

      Steriod John McCain allows 1.5 Million Illegals to cross his borders each year. He says, ” I know how to secure the borders”. He cannot secure Arizona’s borders. How does he plan to secure America’s borders and keep us safe from murderers, rapists and thieves?
      McCain’s Political Journey After the Hanoi Hilton.

      He cannot claim to be the expert on Foreign Policy either. It changes daily, hourly and minute by minute round the world, especially in the Middle East.

      John McCain wants to close Guantanamo Bay Cuba; He fights to give captured terrorists rights in U.S Courts and the right to sue; He fights to ban ‘waterboarding”; He formed the obtructionist “Gang of 14″ which was against the President’s judicial nominations; He is an “Al Gore” global warming wimp with his McCain/Lieberman Energy Bill; He assaulted free speech with his McCain/Feingold Bill;

      He violates our laws with his McCain/Kennedy Amnesty Bill.

      McCain/Hernandez are “my friend” buddies. Would he be mcCain’s DHS Secrtary? This is a classic!

      Illegal Aliens APPROXIMATE Annual Costs to American taxpayers: $200 Billion revenue lost by suppressed wages for ILLEGALS. $45 Billion in lost revenue that is sent back to the illegal aliens home countries.$20 Billion for WIC, Food Stamps, Medicaid, Welfare and Free Lunches.

      $231 Billion for teaching English, Anchor Babies, Incarceration and Social Services.

      The Clinton Chronicles.

    4. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

      Well, no, this isn’t an issue of relativism. Indeed, quite the opposite (indeed, that’s my point).

      But yes, part of the point is that being Republican is not a hard and fast issue–indeed, it has always been, and always will be, a moving target.

      You aren’t going to tell me that being a Republican in 1870 was that same as being one in 1970 or 2024? For that matter, being a Republican in Maine at the moment isn’t the same thing as being one in Alabama, or in Texas. For that matter, two Republicans in the same room at the same time won’t have identical views,

      As such, the notion the McCain should be held to some doctrinaire metric as a method of determining his true Republican-ness is ludicrous. And that’s the point.

    5. tony camele Says:

      Your point is that “Republican” means whatever who claims the term means. I do not dispute that. What I ask is given that is the case, why bother asking what the term means? And if pressed on why I ask that my response would be this. Once we see the futility of asking such questions we just might dismiss all labels and get down to discussing issues and comparing views, e.g., McCain’s views with Clinton’s. Then, perhaps, we might be more knowledgeable politically; even a bit wiser politically.

    6. Dr. Steven Taylor Says:

      Your point is that “Republican” means whatever who claims the term means.

      No, I am not claiming that.

      The point of the post was that there are a number of persons in the public eye who have incredibly narrow definitions of the term that is more about what those specific persons want the terms to mean rather than a reflection of what the term means in reality.

    7. tony camele Says:

      “…a reflection of what the term means in reality.”

      Given that “two Republicans in the same room at the same time won’t have identical views,” e.g.,on amnesty for illegal immigrants or timetables for withdrawal from Iraq or abortion or same-sex marriage, etc., what does the term “Republican” mean in reality? Does it not mean (in your view) any and all views held by those who call themselves “Republican” or who vote for the Republican candidate regardless of his views vis-a-vis those of others who call themselves “Republican”?

      I really do not what else to think given that you speak of “incredibly narrow definitions” in opposition to what the term means in reality. And I really do not know what to call such a flexible, all-embracing view if not “relativism”, except maybe “nominalism”.


      Dr. Anthony M Camele

    8. Max Lybbert Says:

      McCain, Romney, and Huckabee are each more like 1970s Republicans than 1980s Republicans, even if they each like to praise Ronald Reagan. The definition of Republican is generally “when given a choice, decided to register as a member of the Republican Party.” The definition of conservative is also hard to pin down, as there are social conservatives and fiscal conservatives.

      It’s also true that US conservatives have very different views from Canadian or British conservatives, let alone Mexican, Brazilian or Colombian conservatives!

      The nice part, of course, is that if McCain (or Romney, or Huckabee for that matter) does become President, we conservatives don’t have to defend anything he does. He’s not “our guy.”

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