Today has no doubt been one of the longest and most unpleasant day’s in John McCain’s professional life. He’s been smacked, and smacked soundly, and lost what is almost certainly his last chance to be President of the United States.
That doesn’t mean he can’t still at least one more great service for his country.
He can try to return the Republican Party to their senses. The party of Eisenhower and Lincoln has been hijacked by wingnuts who would paint me a commie wacko for believing bizarre ideas like women and blacks are people, education and science are key to the health and future of the country, genuine love and affection is a precious thing wherever we find it, the founding fathers meant it when they emphasized the separation of church and state, and the federal government has a vital role in investing in the future of the country. These aren’t radical leftist ideas – these are ideas that were the bread and butter of Eisenhower style Republicans, ideas that grow directly from the ideals laid out by the founding fathers. The Republican Party, however, has been carted off into crazy land by deeply fundamentalist, irrational, anti-competence nutjobs.
And it’s not just me that feels that way. Colin Powell is one of the most articulate and best known Republican defectors in this election, but he’s just the public face of a much bigger discontent with their party. Tonight the Republican party suffered a shattering defeat tonight on almost every front, and alarm bells must be ringing up and down conservative corridors all across the country.
I’m no Republican, I’m absolutely thrilled with the results tonight, and I’m a lot more likely to vote for a donkey than an elephant. I do, however, have a vested interest in a healthy, vigorous democracy, as do we all. And that isn’t best served by a single dominant party with only a crippled opposition party. Just as importantly, if the Republican party can be brought to its senses, it allows a much more realistic spectrum of political discussion which is vital as we face a broad array of shifting challenges.
So McCain can make yet another valuable contribution to our country. He can help fix one of the two major political parties in this country at a point where they desperately need the help. With the help of defectors like Powell he can bring together the sensible folks in his party, the people that can do basic math, balance budgets, value competence over cronyism, and focus on progress instead of division.
McCain’s concession speech was a gracious view of the man that inspired so much enthusiasm 8 years ago and across his career. I hope he can make something good out of the the bitter lessons of this election and the last eight years, and work to heal his party (although maybe not too quickly).
Both Obama and McCain have important work to do, and we all benefit if they succeed. Wish them well.