As an ill-informed average American citizen, with no political responsibility or clout, I feel no compunction at all about spouting my mouth off on political topics. And elections are often about voting for the candidate that is not as bad as the other candidates. Given that I think Barack Obama was a good candidate (not perfect, but then again there is no such thing as a perfect presidential candidate) while John McCain was a pretty bad one this time around, I didn't have to spend too many mental resources to decide who to vote for.
And now that Obama has all but won the presidential election with McCain having conceded, I feel quite free to list the major things that I think went wrong with McCain's presidential campaign.
- George W. Bush. It's not McCain's fault that Bush sucked so much that the rest of the Republican Party got dragged down along with him, but it is McCain's fault for not differentiating himself from Bush sufficiently.
- The recession. It might not have affected McCain's chances if it were a gradual downturn, but the bankruptcy of several major financial institutions and the huge bailout bill highlighted the poor performance of the Republican economic agenda.
- Sarah Palin. While there may have been valid questions about her inexperience when she was nominated, this wasn't that much of a big deal to me. Then she went and opened her mouth. While she energizes conservative extremists, she was a negative for most of the rest of us.
- His campaign flailed around like a headless chicken. While not so bad near the end, there have been periods where positions were reversed so rapidly that it made our heads spin. This makes one wonder if they knew what they were doing, and if they were so incompetent during an election, just imagine how incompetent they would be in government.
- Overemphasis on pandering to the far right. McCain's pandering to the overly conservative portion of the Republican Party may have been understandable during the presidential nomination, but he seems to have failed to realize that a lot of his base were moderates who were motivated by the Bush years.
- Lack of a positive message. McCain's campaign almost exclusively focused on negative attacks against Obama, and far too many of them were extremely dubious, if not outright false. Such negativity could have only turned off a lot of voters, especially since his campaign failed to push a positive message that stuck.
I do hope that Palin doesn't end up the Republican nominee four years hence. If this happens, that means that yet again we will have a presidential race between a reasonable candidate and a bad one. That would make a vote no choice at all, making me miss another chance to really be part of the democratic process. This election was bad enough in that it didn't require me to inform myself much at all. Although it might not be the case if the Democratic candidate also sucks four years later, which would be an even worse situation.
Oddly enough, the best case scenario for the next presidential election would force me to spend a considerable amount of effort to ponder who might be the better candidate, with two or more great candidates to choose from. There might be something wrong with me for wishing to pile more work on myself ...