I'm a moderate. If that's a dirty word to some, fine. Call me a centrist then.
I told my wife a few days I could not, in good conscience, vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton - if she is the Democratic nominee - in the general election. With Clinton, the first word that pops into mind: divisive. At least Sen. Barack Obama, the first word that comes into my mind is "potential" - despite the fact that many of us are still waiting for Obama's first significant legislative accomplishment.
Sen. John McCain is a possibility as well. I won't really know until I can put McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, up against one of the Democratic opponents and compare them side by side.
That qualifies me, I suppose, as a swing voter.
Earlier in the week, I read the accounts of the CPAC meeting in the city. That was where Mitt Romney abondoned his presidential quest to the cries of his supporters. At that same meeting, McCain's reception was rather hostile.
Really, it's been that way for some time. The bloviation from the right-wing pundits - Rush and his ilk - complain that McCain isn't conservative enough. Romney was a better option; he was, they said, a conservative's conservative.
That got me wondering: I presume that, most generally speaking, I'm more liberal than McCain. I can only surmise I would be treated with such disdain by the rest of his party. My swing vote, it seems, is of no importance in their eyes. If they booed McCain, as some did, it's not hard to guess I'd have not been let in the building.
From an outsider's perspective, the whining about McCain seems petty and childish.
"You give us a candidate that follows our views to the 'T'!" they seem to say. Barring that, an independent candidate may not be out of the question.
It's all laughable, really. If that faction of the GOP goes its own way, it sinks McCain's candidacy - who wouldn't stand a chance behind a unified Democratic party - while its own candidate is likely never taken seriously by folks closer to the middle.
This CPAC gathering received Vice President Dick Chaney warmly. Reports from there indicated that he got a robust ovation. Chaney and President Bush are hard-core conservatives; that much is clear.
They've run the country for a full seven years now. And as his presidency winds down, there are an awful lot of people dissatisfied with the job he's doing. An ill-conceived, ill-deceived war in Iraq; continued government shenanigans in areas like torture and homeland security; ongoing unnecessary secrecy within the top levels of government.
They've run the country for a full seven years now, and this is where we find ourselves. The CPAC booers want more of the same and will complain until they get it; most of the rest of the country wants something different.
McCain is something different. That he dares step away from the party line at times diminishes him in some eyes, which is unfortunate.
The gap between left and right has widened for much of the decade. At last, McCain isn't a candidate that more resembles me and my political stances than Bush ever has. For as much as he preached about working together and reaching across the aisle - I was at Bush's second inauguration, I heard him say it with my own ears - he never followed through. A promise left by the wayside.
Finally, there's someone closer to what I believe; yet a sizeable chunk of the GOP believes him unfit.
I'm tired of being marginalized by the louder factions of the GOP. They castigate McCain for being too liberal; to me, that says someone with beliefs such as myself has no real place in their party. Don't folks like me determine elections?
The Democrats don't seem to have this problem. Aside from the sniping between candidates, it certainly seems as if Clinton's supporters will take up for Obama and vice versa when crunch time arrives. My gut feeling is that they'd, you know, appreciate my vote.
The GOP, meanwhile, has a few months to get its house together. If the loud, far-right faction continues its dissention, it risks sinking any sort of hope for getting a Republican in the Oval Office.
I may yet vote for McCain in the general election if he proves himself as the best candidate. At this point, I would do so with a disgust for how he's been treated by those who are supposed to be on his side.
The people have spoken; by the GOP's rules, McCain has the most delegates. Why is the will of the people not good enough? Why is McCain not good enough?
The GOP needs me more than I need it.
Your clock is ticking.