I know some of you would like to believe otherwise, especially since both of our Democratic candidates have managed to make themselves look pretty unattractive of late (though they were better in tonight's debate). And now that McCain seems to have a good head of steam -- even the beginnings of an aura of inevitablity -- you might be looking at him seriously for the first time, all over again. But don't let the endorsements of the New York Times, Rudy Guiliani, and Arnold Schwarzenegger fool you. Remember that McCain also has the hearty support of such stauch social conservatives as Govs. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) and Rick Perry (R-TX), fellow senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and and Tom Coburn (R-OK), and former senator Phil Gramm (R-TX). And for god's sake, don't put any credence in the endorsement of Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT); in fact, that should give you pause. The allegiance of a turncoat is not a valuable statement, nor can it be trusted.
Just take a look at McCain's voting record on progressive issues, on social issues, on labor issues, on education issues, on women's issues. In the 109th Congress, he had a 20% voting record with the American Association of University Women, getting credit for a vocational education vote that went through 99-0. In 2006, McCain had a 7% voting record with the AFL-CIO, having only voted the right way on the Voting Rights Act -- another popular measure that went through largely unopposed. That same year he received a 15% rating from Americans for Democratic Action. There are more voting records on the Zaftig Redhead's main page, where you can guage McCain's support on issues you care about. Take a look, but even on the issues where you might be reassured -- like his vote against the marriage amendment last year -- don't count on the fact that his position will stay firm now that he's got Pennsylvania Avenue on his mind.
Remember that immigration compromise he worked on earlier? McCain is now back-pedaling from that bill -- which he co-authored -- as quickly and as publicly as he can. In truth, he may be one of the bigger flip floppers in the campaign, having seen the error of his ways in 2000 when he had the gumption to skip Iowa and diss the evangelical, conservative block in the Republican party. As a result, on issues like gay marriage to making the Bush tax cuts permanent to repealing Roe v. Wade -- McCain has changed his mind, pandering to the religious right since his speech at Bob Jones University, and even more so the closer he got to the nomination.
On other critical issues, like judicial nominations, healthcare, student aid, broader reproductive rights, pay equity issues and the minimum wage, McCain has been distressingly, depressingly, consistently conservative. This, despite always being a target of the civil rights community as a potential swing vote on the issues that matter most, McCain rarely comes through -- in 2007, only about 15% of the time.
So let's just be clear. Despite whatever appeal he may have as a person, whatever we might rightly admire in his life story and character, no matter how much we might like to have a beer with the man, McCain is a conservative. Indeed, he keeps saying so himself -- over and over and over again, in every Republican debate this campaign season. We should take him at his word on this one, folks. On the issues that matter most to progressives -- from civil rights to reproductive rights, from domestic budget priorities to his selections for the U.S. Supreme Court -- he will be a socially and fiscally conservative president. (NOTE: I do not believe that fiscally responsible and fiscally conservative are the same thing; they are, in fact, very different things.) McCain is not, in fact, all that much different from President Bush in his social positions -- just as McCain is not all that different from the president on Iraq. I don't mean to imply McCain would be anything like the unprincipled leader we have now. But I do believe John McCain would be a consistent president -- consistently conservative. Please, happy voters, don't be fooled -- not if you truly want change this election season.