The Instigator
wingnut2280
Pro (for)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
zakkuchan
Con (against)
Winning
24 Points

McCain is not a conservative

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/11/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 987 times Debate No: 2563
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (10)

 

wingnut2280

Pro

John McCain is not a conservative and should barely be considered a republican. I'm so sick of him crying out for my support just because he has an R after his name. McCain is continually and extremely liberal on all of the major issues that conservatives care about with the exception of life.

On amnesty, McCain-Kennedy took one of the most liberal positions possible on the issue, allowing over 20 million illegal immigrants safe passage to easy citizenship.

On tax cuts, McCain is the only Republican running not for making the Bush tax cuts permanent. He has also voted to raise taxes numerous times and is in favor of keeping the death tax.

These are just a few examples. Whether or not you agree with conservatives is not the question. I just want to know how McCain can justify appealing to conservatives on anything more than the 'lesser of two evils' plea.
zakkuchan

Con

To start things off, I'd like to note that my opponent did not really clarify what he meant by the word 'conservative.' There are a number of ways a person can be conservative, so this is certainly something that ought to be clarified before any further discussion can be had on this topic. For the purposes of this round, I will assume that my opponent is referring to the coalition of social, fiscal, and foreign policy conservatives brought together by Reagan to achieve his landslide 1980 presidential victory. I am assuming this for two reasons: First, because it is that same coalition that makes up today's Republican party, which my opponent implicitly agrees is pretty much synonymous with 'conservative' for the purposes of this debate. Second, because my opponent has a quote from Reagan on his profile, so I assume he respects him and the direction he took the party.

So we must, for this debate, judge John McCain under that framework. So let's look at some specifics. (All statements of McCain's policy positions are paraphrased from McCain's official campaign website, http://www.johnmccain.com...).

Conservative Coalition Part 1 - Social conservatism: John McCain is pro-life, believing Roe v. Wade should be reversed. He has an adopted daughter, so he clearly has what it takes not only to vocally oppose abortion, but also to promote and even do the things (i.e. adoption) that can help make abortion seem less necessary to struggling young women. He believes marriage should be between one man and one woman, and he promises to appoint non-activist judges to help ensure that such decisions are in the hands of state governments, where, Constitutionally, they should be. He is opposed to most elements of stem-cell research, but he understands the benefits, so he does not oppose adult stem-cell research, which is a promising field of study that doesn't involve embryos.

Conservative Coalition Part 2 - Fiscal conservatism: McCain believes the government ought to restrain its spending to necessary projects, and he is incredibly precise in his opposition to earmark spending. He believes Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare need to be reformed, keeping in mind the government's obligations to all Americans, including the children who currently seem doomed to inherit the broken system. Despite what my opponent says, McCain actually supports making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and has supported the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax, "saving middle class families nearly $60 billion in a single year." He is so against raising taxes that he thinks Congress should have to pass any tax hike with a three-fifths majority. He stresses that tax cut plans should always be accompanied by spending cuts - what could be more fiscally conservative than that?

Conservative Coalition Part 3 - Foreign policy conservatism: Here is where McCain really takes the cake. He has supported the War in Iraq every step of the way, only disagreeing somewhat with the Bush administration over the strategic handling of the war; he said more troops were necessary, and he has been well vindicated by the successes of the 2007 surge. And you don't often get much more foreign policy experience than he has out of a politician.

In short, McCain satisfies all three pieces of Reagan's conservative coalition. He is, in fact, fond of saying that he was a "foot soldier" in Reagan's 1980 campaign. He is a conservative, period.

My opponent brings up an interesting point regarding illegal immigration. In response, I would note that the current illegal immigration debate is pretty new, and has not really had enough time to crystallize into a true liberal vs. conservative debate. Every major position has elements of both liberalism and conservatism; for example, though McCain supports what has come to be termed as 'amnesty', he thinks the first step in any immigration reform policy is to firmly secure the borders. Unless my opponent can lay out what a conservative plan would be, this point is rather moot.

I'm looking forward to seeing what my opponent has to say.
Debate Round No. 1
wingnut2280

Pro

You can define conservative anyway you want, but McCain doesn't fit the mold. Thus, we are seeing this massive backlash from the base.

Let me start by saying that politicians continually promise things on the campaign trail which they don't hold up in office. We can see this in both Bush presidencies. They both ran as small government fiscal conservatives making all kinds of promises to the base. We all know how that turned out.

Anyway...

Social Conservatism-
I will admit, as I did in the first round, that McCain has a strong record on life and a good one on marriage. This is perhaps the only reason he still has an R after his name.

"he promises to appoint non-activist judges to help ensure that such decisions are in the hands of state governments"

Again, this whole notion of promises. We need to look at McCain's record. His participation in the notorious 'Gang of 14' proves this false. He has opposed numerous Bush court appointments, the only conservative thing Bush does well. McCain personally prevented the progress congressional republicans tried to make on procedure about court appointments. He favored filibusters on appointments as a policy, instead of opting for an up or down vote on appointees. His record on court appointments is atrocious.

Fiscal Conservatism-
Ah, yes. Earmarks! We all know McCain to be against earmarking. He has used this to employ his 'straight-talk' strategy. However, McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts, everyone knows this. Even now, under the pressure of the campaign, McCain isn't admitting his error. If he doesn't support tax cuts on his record or under the pressure of campaigning, when it is popular, what makes you think he will support tax cuts when he isn't accountable in office?

He may have supported some tax cuts, but on the whole, McCain is for the tax status quo. He wants to keep the death tax and the estate tax, something a true conservative, and other republican candidates, stand for. He only favors tax cuts when they are accompanied with spending cuts. This isn't always politically possible and McCain has shown that he won't support tax cuts in anything but an ideal situation, where it is politically convenient for him.

Foreign Policy-
We all know McCain supported the surge, but so did every other republican. Look at the voting record, every other republican congressmen, save a handful, voted for the surge. This wasn't exactly a difficult position. While McCain is strong on the war, his other foreign policy is weak. Many believe McCain doesn't have the wherewithall or strategic foresight to manage the complex foreign policy facing our country.

Notice my opponent tries to dodge key issues where McCain is unwaveringly liberal.

Immigration-
Of course there is a liberal-conservative line. Specifically on amnesty, McCain sided with senators like Ted Kennedy, personally championing the McCain-Kennedy bill, which grants amnesty to over 20 million illegal immigrants. Everyone is for securing the border, but when it comes to contentious issues, McCain takes the liberal side, drastically, on immigration. He is against an ID card, against holding companies liable for hiring illegal immigrants and for sanctuary cities. McCain's own state is the largest sanctuary state, even among border states, save Texas.

Free Speech and Civil Rights-
McCain-Feingold put campaign restrictions on the individual rather than PACs and lobbyists. This is a clear limit of civil liberties, disallowing campaigners and constituents to voice and support their views.

Big Government-
McCain has voted to expand the size of government with these bills and others. He is for OCEA regulations and cap-and-trade systems. He is against free trade and is an economic isolationist. McCain is for policing the world and trying to ensure that America is the known superpower all over the world. While conservatives do support the surge, they don't think that America should be so heavily involved in everyone's affairs. Listen to Paul in any debate.

Many believe McCain is a conservative who reaches across the aisle. This is simply not the case. McCain reaches across the aisle, but takes the liberal stance. He has jumped to the other side on court appointees, illegal immigration, free speech, campaign finance reform, and COUNTLESS other issues. When is the last time McCain pulled democrats to the conservative side of an issue? Sure, McCain has voted conservatively on some issues. But, the issues that McCain is most passionate about and has championed bills for are dramatically liberal. Every politician makes promises on the campaign trail, especially when pressured to get the support of a particular group, but we need to look at his record and tendencies in office.
zakkuchan

Con

I'm going to start by addressing the few specific cases my opponent talked about near the end of his last round, and then I'll move on to examining the three big areas that we seem to agree are most important.

Immigration - My opponent says, "Of course there is a liberal-conservative line", but he never said where that line is, as I expressly asked him to do. He just put out the fact that Ted Kennedy sided with him, as though that automatically means it's the most liberal stance anyone's ever taken. I would contend that amnesty, rather than being a liberal plan or a conservative plan, is simply the *sensible* plan. The only other option is deporting millions of people; that would be a logistical nightmare, and just plain impractically isolationist. My opponent specifically mentions McCain's opposition to the Real ID card, which anyone who has looked into it knows is patently unconstitutional, and, if accepted by the states, would open the door for all kinds of egregious misuses of government power. He also notes that Arizona is a sanctuary state; but McCain is a senator in the federal government, and has nothing to do with Arizona's policies, so this is about as relevant as saying that it rained in Chicago yesterday while talking about Barack Obama.

McCain-Feingold - While I haven't personally looked into the details of this particular bill, from what I've heard of it, it does seem to do what my opponent says. I wouldn't go so far as to say it "disallow[s] campaigners and constituents to voice and support their views", considering there are totally free ways (e.g. this lovely medium, the Internet) of voicing and supporting views, and considering it doesn't restrict the primary means (i.e. voting) by which the people express their will on the political process. Considering what it does do, however, I would count this as a strike against McCain -- but not necessarily a strike against his conservative credentials (which is what we're talking about), because I don't see how it's liberal at all. It seems to me like the sort of thing BOTH sides would oppose, but that came up because of its obvious benefit to incumbents. I ask my opponent to tell me how this is specifically a problem with McCain's conservative credentials.

Big Government - Limited government has not been a cornerstone of the Republican party for decades. Justly or not, this part of the old Republican and conservative platform has taken a backseat to a number of other issues. Since my opponent brought up Ron Paul, I will use him too: He is the only true advocate for radically smaller government in the race, and he has been soundly defeated in every contest so far, only coming anywhere near the top-tier in a couple small caucus states. Clearly, conservatives are not into the small government approach as much as they used to be. Even if you're a staunch advocate of small government, though, there's reason to be happy with the idea of a McCain presidency; but this belongs in the "fiscal conservatism" section, so I'll wait until then to examine this more.

Social conservatism - The importance of social conservatism to the modern definition of conservatism in general cannot possibly be understated. These days, social conservatism forms the backbone, the base, of the Republican party, and the conservative sect of society. Consider the fact that the vast majority of McCain's detractors are fighting on under Huckabee's banner, he being a former preacher whose central appeal to conservatives is his social stances. In other words, even those who aren't convinced of McCain's fiscal conservative credentials make sure they follow someone who is, first and foremost, a social conservative, even though his fiscal credentials are far more questionable than McCain's. This means that social conservatism is the most vital element of today's conservatism, and my opponent has agreed that John McCain has it.

Fiscal conservatism - Apparently, I didn't clear up the confusion over John McCain and Bush's tax cuts well enough in my first round, so I'll try again, this time with a direct quote from his website, http://www.johnmccain.com..., under "Issues": "John McCain will make the Bush income and investment tax cuts permanent, keeping income tax rates at their current level and fighting the Democrats' plans for a crippling tax increase in 2011." Anyone who thinks McCain's record on taxes is not a conservative one should read this article from the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com... Here are some high points: "While serving in the House, Mr. McCain's pro-tax cut votes helped him earn ACU [American Conservative Union] rankings as high as conservative stalwarts such as Jack Kemp, Newt Gingrich, Henry Hyde and Vin Weber." In the Senate, "Mr. McCain and other supply-siders such as Connie Mack, Trent Lott and Phil Gramm broke ranks with George H.W. Bush and the GOP leadership to vote "no" [on a 1990 tax deal with Democrats that led to] what was then the largest tax increase in history". He repeatedly opposed Clinton's tax hike policies throughout the '90s. He did vote against Bush's tax cuts in 2001, but that was over objections that the plan did not include spending cuts, a concept that has always been championed by the most staunch conservative supply-siders. Furthermore, "two weeks [before voting against Bush's tax cuts], Mr. McCain voted to approve the final version of the Budget Resolution...which included $1.35 trillion in tax cuts (the Bush proposal) coupled with a $661 billion cap on discretionary spending. When the promised spending cap never materialized, Mr. McCain denounced the wasteful earmarks and pork-barrel spending that he felt jeopardized the budget, and lodged the now famous protest vote against the tax cuts." In 2004, by the way, "he voted against rescinding portions of the Bush tax cut." My opponent's claims about McCain's fiscal record are, in short, unsupported by the facts.

Foreign policy conservatism - All my opponent said in attack of John McCain here is, "Many believe McCain doesn't have the wherewithall or strategic foresight to manage the complex foreign policy facing our country." Before I address this, my opponent needs to back up this claim. I see no reason to refute a claim that isn't supported by even the weakest of lines of reasoning.

So the specific challenges I leave my opponent with, on top of refuting the points I've made, are:

-Tell me what a conservative plan regarding illegal immigration would be.
-Tell me what makes McCain-Feingold specifically a problem for McCain's conservative credentials.
-Back up the claims made in his second round regarding McCain and foreign policy with at least some reasoning, so I can respond to them.

Thank you!
Debate Round No. 2
wingnut2280

Pro

Immigration-
There is a clear line between liberals and conservatives. This is evident by the heated debates that rage on the topic, specifically on amnesty, which is the point at hand. Conservatives favor ID cards, no amnesty, and harsh penalties for companies who hire illegals. All of these things McCain is against. Not only is he against them, he personally championed a bill which did the opposite. We know McCain is not a conservative on this issue in particular because of the resounding boos he received while speaking about it at the recent CPAC conference.

McCain-Feingold-
Your argument is essentially that McCain didn't ruin ALL free speech, so there isn't a problem. This is ridiculous. He limits the abilities of people to donate money to a cause they feel passionate about as well as the actual candidates ability to spend his own money to voice his own opinion. This a clear constitutional violation of free speech. Your response is like saying "I only chopped off an arm, I didn't kill the man." Its an obvious problem for conservatives because conservatives like the constitution and this bill's reputation is notoriously liberal and has McCain's name on it.

Big Government-
So, you admit that McCain is big government. Your only argument is that conservatives don't care about that anymore because Paul isn't their nominee. There are countless reasons Paul isn't winning which I won't get into here. Small government, as we agree, is the montra of the conservative movement. You admitting McCain is big government is admitting that he isn't conservative.

Fiscal Conservatism-
Again, this whole notion of promises. McCain can promise anything on his own website. You need to look at things objectively and take a look at his record. If he supports the Bush tax cuts, why did he vote against them TWICE? McCain has been in the Senate for nearly a half-century, its easy for him to have piled up conservative tallies. Take a look at his ACU rating recently. In the most recent year available (2007) his rating is a 65, just above Arlen Specter and Olympia Snowe. He was the third least conservative republican last year!

Foreign Policy-
This is always McCain's rallying cry. My argument is that the surge was supported by everyone and wasn't a difficult position like McCain claims. He preaches "I was the only one fighting for the surge!" when in reality, every other Republican did. They caught him on this in the debate just before FL when Rudy and Romney both called him out, providing evidence that they backed the surge from the beginning. Again, check the voting records, this wasn't a difficult move for McCain. Furthermore, when the dems instituted a bill setting up funding for troops conditional on their rapid withdrawal, McCain SKIPPED THE VOTE. Tough on the war huh...

Judges-
Perhaps the only thing this president has done well from a conservative perspective is court appointments. McCain was part of the Gang of 14 who spoke out against court appointees and denied them an up or down vote while granting senate dems the right to filibuster. He can promise us anything he wants, his actions will always speak louder.

McCain has to have some conservative credentials in order to win in a red state like AZ. But, when we look it him on the record instead of on the campaign trail, we see his true colors. He personally champions bills which directly oppose conservative views, like McCain-Kennedy on immigration and McCain-Feingold on free speech. His voting record has gotten increasingly more liberal, especially in recent years. Reagan was known for crossing party lines. But, when has McCain pulled liberals to our side of the aisle? You should look at McCain objectively instead of copy and pasting spoonfed "please vote for me conservatives" junk off his campaign webpage. Look his voting record and where he stands on the issues and he is obviously not a conservative. My challenge to you is, McCain has been violating conservative principles for years in the senate, why should we believe him now?
zakkuchan

Con

Immigration - Finally, at least, my opponent has laid out what he believes is the conservative stance here. However, I would make three points against what my opponent is saying. First, my opponent failed to address my points about amnesty and the Real ID card, where I said favoring the former and opposing the latter show common sense and respect for the Constitution, rather than liberalism. Second, conservatives certainly aren't united on this subject. Consider the fact that the #1 Republican in the nation, president Bush, agrees with McCain here. And third, Republican voters have proven that they aren't really all that opposed to McCain here - consider the fact that he's pretty much been nominated.

McCain-Feingold - It doesn't seem like my opponent read through my point on this AT ALL. For his benefit, and for the benefit of anyone who is confused about what I said now, this is the essence of the point I made: "I would count this as a strike against McCain -- but not necessarily a strike against his conservative credentials (which is what we're talking about), because I don't see how it's liberal at all. It seems to me like the sort of thing BOTH sides would oppose, but that came up because of its obvious benefit to incumbents." My opponent apparently missed this point entirely, instead making a straw man argument, saying that I didn't see a problem with McCain-Feingold, which of course would be ridiculous. My point, that McCain-Feingold was just pro-incumbent and had nothing to do with being conservative or liberal, was only addressed by my opponent in his last sentence here: "Its an obvious problem for conservatives because conservatives like the constitution and this bill's reputation is notoriously liberal and has McCain's name on it." Let's take this apart piece by piece. "Conservatives like the constitution": Clearly. This is why they passed things like the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which completely revoked the right of habias corpus, something that is specifically given to the people in the Constitution. This is also why, for the 6 years they had control of both houses of Congress on top of the presidency, they allowed an enormous increase of presidential power, even though the president is NOT granted the title of "the decider" in the Constitution, and in fact is LIMITED in his powers and rather SUBSERVIENT to Congress in the Constitution. Next - "this bill's reputation is notoriously liberal": I disagree. This bill's reputation is notoriously stupid, and self-serving of incumbents. There's nothing liberal about that at all. Furthermore, liberals are in general hardly in favor of reducing civil liberties; this is something conservatives, on the other hand, have taken to quite nicely since 2001. My opponent's repeated point that McCain-Feingold was a liberal bill simply does not hold water.

Big government - I most certainly did not "admit that McCain is big government." I just said that being for small government is not a vital part of being a conservative anymore. I wasn't conceding the point; I was merely saying it's rather irrelevant. This is shown very well through Ron Paul's candidacy; he loses because he doesn't get enough Republican votes. Everyone who knows anything about the race at all knows he's staunchly for small government; even when the news media made fun of him (for instance at the debate when one of the moderators laughed at the question about Paul's stance on the IRS), they were making fun of his small government stances. So what it comes down to is: He's the small government candidate, and he gets single-digit percentages in virtually every state. It's not hard to put two and two together and realize that conservatives don't care so much about small government anymore.

Fiscal conservatism - Again, my opponent demonstrates that he hasn't been reading my posts very carefully. He tells me that I "need to look at things objectively and take a look at his record", when in fact that's just what I did by giving a Wall Street Journal article that goes over McCain's actual voting record on all the tax votes since he's been in Congress that the ACU considers "key votes". The fact of the matter is, other than his opposition to Bush's tax cuts - which he opposed because a)they weren't accompanied by spending cuts and b)he didn't get the cap on earmark spending he was promised as part of it - he has voted on the conservative side on EVERY "key vote" dealing with taxes since he's been in Congress, INCLUDING voting to make Bush's tax cuts permanent in 2004. McCain's record speaks just as strongly as his promises here, and my opponent fails repeatedly to address that with solid facts.

Foreign policy - ...And here, my opponent didn't TRY to justify his second round attacks on John McCain, that he "doesn't have the wherewithall or strategic foresight to manage the complex foreign policy facing our country." Instead, he quickly drops that and takes another route, saying that voting for the surge wasn't difficult. My question is, so what? Does that make that vote less conservative? The point is, McCain fits perfectly in to the modern conservative mold of foreign policy conservatism, and my opponent repeatedly fails to address this. If my opponent wants to contend that McCain is not a foreign policy conservative, then he should do so; everything else he says on this is completely missing the point of the debate, which is whether or not McCain is a conservative.

Judges - McCain believes judges should vote on the law, and uphold the constitution, rather than getting involved in petty partisan squabbles. Any judge who rules based on anything other than the rule of law and the Constitution (e.g. their own personal beliefs) is not a good judge; and anyone who supports putting such a judge on the bench is certainly not conservative.

Social conservatism - In his last round, my opponent didn't even address this. This means that he agrees with my contention that "social conservatism is the most vital element of today's conservatism", as well as my contention that McCain is socially conservative. This point carries more weight than any of the other points we're debating on, and we both agree McCain has it down.
Debate Round No. 3
wingnut2280

Pro

Immigration-
I'm sorry, I didn't know it was my job to fill youu in on the issues. The topic of the debate, as I keep reminding you, isn't whether or not conservatism is right or if you agree with it, but whether or not McCain fits the bill. Clearly he doesn't, as you admit. I would hardly consider Bush the number one conservative. Thats laughable. Your logic is SO drastically flawed. Just because McCain is the nominee and people are voting for him doesn't mean that he exerts conservative values. Thats the reason for this debate. The fact remains, despite McCains hot air, that he personally championed a bill that flew in the face of conservative values, specifically amnesty. His record proves that he isn't a conservative on immigration. Period.

McCain-Feingold-
Again, the topic of the debate isn't conservatism, but McCain. So I don't see how much you hating Bush is relevant. The simple reputation of the bill is a liberal one. Not to mention that Feingold is one of the most liberal senators. The fact that McCain's name is on the bill is a statement to how badly he can jump across to liberal ideals.

Big Government-
You said Paul is the only advocate for small government, clearly meaning McCain is big government. I don't see how this can be mistaken. Anyway, on every point you are assimilating the Bush presidency with conservatism, which is a BIG mistake. Conservatives want smaller government. Every conservative from Paul to Fred to Newt preaches smaller government and it is most definately a cornerstone of the conservative movement. So, since we agree that McCain is big government and conservatives are small government, eventhough Bush isn't, McCain would therefore not be a conservative. Seems easy enough, but I guess it wasn't.

Fiscal Conservatism-
Again, take a look at McCain's RECENT record and it will clear things up. He has a terrible record on conservative issues, as I pointed out last round and you didn't rebut. He is in favor of things like the death tax, which conservatives are blatantly opposed. He may be against pork, but there are many issues, like the estate and death tax, which is he is not conservative at all.

Foreign Policy-
Here, you and McCain just keep blowing hot air. He wasn't the only one valiantly defending the surge, he just went along with what every other Republican and conservative thought at the time. This wasn't a difficult position at all, so he needs to quit taking credit for it as one. Also, McCain holds many views that are not conservative here as well. McCain wants to end torture and shut down guantanamo. Both of which are definately not conservative principles.

Judges-
McCain can tell us anything he wants, but his record tells us otherwise. He opposed many conservative judges, investigated Abrahomoff, and backed the Dems in filibustering Bush's court appointees. Again, this whole notion of McCain's promises versus what he actually backs when in office.

Social Conservatism-
So, I didn't answer a pathetic novice argument so I concede? What is this the freshman debate team? Social conservatism is not the only element of being a conservative. Nice try though.

McCain holds some conservative views, that I don't deny. But, being from a red state, he must have those in order to appease voters. He shows his liberal colors when in office as he and his record show. McCain is promising all of these things in an attempt to appeal to conservatives now. His record shows that they are lies. I have adequately shown the numerous anti-conservative positions that McCain holds, not to mention his atrocious rating from the ACU last year (third worst). He can blow all the smoke he wants on the campaign trail because he knows conservatives don't like him, but we know better.
zakkuchan

Con

Before looking at the individual issues and addressing what my opponent has to say about them, I'd like to make one general statement regarding a central theme that I see popping up all throughout this debate. My opponent wants to have his cake and eat it, too. That is, he wants the debate to be about well-established, long lasting conservative ideologies when it is convenient for him; and he wants it to be about the current mood of the Republican party when that is more convenient. An example: From the very beginning, the central point I have made about the immigration debate is that it has not had the time to crystallize into a clear conservative vs. liberal debate. However, on this particular issue, my opponent wants us to base our debate solely around what conservatives believe right NOW, rather than what a true conservative stance would be. He has failed to explain why, for example, supporting the Real ID card would be conservative. He wants us to accept the fact that most conservative lawmakers support the Real ID card as evidence that it's conservative. However, my opponent does not want this thinking to be applied more broadly ("Just because McCain is the nominee...doesn't mean that he exerts conservative values"), because if it is, there is no debate about McCain's conservatism. If all that matters is the current mood of the Republican party, clearly McCain must be seen as a conservative, since he has won the nomination. I figured, from the beginning, that that's not what my opponent wants the debate to be about, so I have avoided that. For my opponent to resort to talking about the current mood of the Republican party flies directly in the face of good debate standards, as well as sorely devaluing his entire case; for if this is a valid consideration for this debate, my opponent automatically loses, since McCain has been nominated and thus clearly fits in well with the current Republican mood.

Immigration - I think I have addressed most of what I have to say here fairly well in the above statement. Again, this issue hasn't had time to become firmly established as a conservative vs. liberal debate, and my opponent has failed to show what makes anything McCain is standing for liberal, or anything he stands against conservative. My opponent says I resorted here to attacking conservatism; what he apparently fails to realize is that I was not attacking conservatism, but questioning whether what conservatives currently stand for here is really conservative. He has not addressed my points here that amnesty is not liberal and the Real ID is not conservative whatsoever, so I automatically win on this point.

McCain-Feingold - When I went onto the offensive here, and analyzed my opponent's contention that "conservatives like the Constitution", I admit I was going off on a tangent, and I apologize. However, I maintained the central point I've made in this debate about McCain-Feingold, that my opponent has repeatedly failed to address. That is, McCain-Feingold is not a conservative bill or a liberal bill, but rather an incumbent bill. It is stupid, self-serving, and unconstitutional. But it is not liberal, anymore than it is conservative; so it is irrelevant to this debate.

Big government - I didn't say "Paul is the only advocate for small government", I said "He's the small government candidate". There is a huge distinction here. My opponent wants it to seem like I conceded that Ron Paul is the only person for small government in the race, therefore admitting McCain isn't for small government. On the contrary, however, all I said is that Paul is "the small government candidate", meaning that he is the candidate that has made small government his platform in the race. This certainly doesn't preclude any other candidates from having small government stances; it just means Paul has made it his central theme, whereas no one else has. I did, earlier in the debate, also call Paul "the only true advocate for radically smaller government in the race", but the key word there is 'radically'. McCain certainly supports smaller government; this is evidenced by his views on taxes, where he says tax cuts are best when accompanied by spending cuts (and spending cuts=smaller government); my opponent even took note of this himself in his second round ("He only favors tax cuts when they are accompanied with spending cuts.").

Judges - My opponent failed to address the point I made here, that McCain doesn't want to get into partisan bickering when appointing judges, but rather just wants to appoint judges that will uphold the law and the Constitution. The true conservative stance on judges would not be appointing ones who promise to vote conservative; a true conservative would want judges who promise to vote in support of the Constitution, and this is what McCain wants.

From the very beginning of this debate, we agreed on the definition of conservatism as the modern union of social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, and foreign policy conservatives. These three categories are paramount in judging whether or not someone is conservative, so they ought to carry more weight in deciding this debate than any of the lesser issues we have discussed.

Fiscal conservatism - I directly cited a source that looked objectively at McCain's record on every "key vote" (according to the ACU) on taxes since he has been in office. That source showed that McCain has taken the conservative stance on EVERY key tax vote since he has been in Congress, with the sole exception of the initial vote on Bush's tax cuts, which McCain had valid objections to. My opponent repeatedly says we must look at McCain's record on taxes; but I'm the only one of us who HAS looked objectively at his record, and I found, with proof to back it up, that McCain's record here is about as good as it gets from a conservative standpoint.

Foreign policy conservatism - My opponent first said that McCain "doesn't have the wherewithall or strategic foresight to manage the complex foreign policy facing our country". Then, when I asked him to back that claim up with at least SOME reasoning, he sidestepped that and took the route that McCain's support of the surge wasn't difficult. However, as I have already said, that doesn't make it any less conservative. That's like saying voting for Reagan's supply-side tax cuts wouldn't be very conservative because everyone was doing it - that's absolutely ridiculous. In a last-ditch effort to give SOME reason to believe McCain is not a conservative here, he points out that McCain is opposed to torture and Guantnamo Bay. In case my opponent forgot, McCain was a POW in Vietnam for a few years, and underwent torture himself. Anyone who could then come home and support the use of torture by the United States probably has a few screws loose. Judging based on his other conservative credentials, it's pretty safe to say McCain would be with other conservative lawmakers on this issue, if he didn't have the experiences he's had. Such an experience would rattle anyone, and his anti-torture stance can hardly be held against him, even by conservative standards.

Social conservatism - I'm going to ignore the shameful personal attack my opponent leveled here, and address the issue itself. The fact of the matter is, as my opponent failed to refute, social conservatism forms the backbone of the Republican party and conservatism in the United States. And my opponent conceded from the very beginning that McCain is a social conservative. I never said social conservatism is the only element of conservatism; all I've said is that it's the biggest. McCain is solid here; therefore, he has the backbone of conservatism firmly embedded in him.

John McCain is a conservative. Period.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Derek.Gunn 9 years ago
Derek.Gunn
McCain is not a Conservative?
How excellent.
I like him better all the time. :-)

The US is going to improve under Obama, or improve under McCain!
That is, if they can control the US's military-industrial complex which is currently doing its best to wreck the world.
Posted by zakkuchan 9 years ago
zakkuchan
I think someone's pretty spiteful. I'm sure they know who they are.
Posted by DoctaFly 9 years ago
DoctaFly
Who the hell cares what christian coalition right wing nutjobs think mcCain is? The fact is, he is a Bob Dole repeat. That is, he can never stand up to Obama in appeal in a general election, and he can not beat Clinton on campaign strength or substance. This election was over before it started.
Posted by zakkuchan 9 years ago
zakkuchan
I just wanted to snatch this debate while it was still not taken. :P I don't have time to post tonight, but I'll get to it tomorrow. This should be fun.
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