Open Letter to Senators McCain and Obama

Below is my letter to Senators McCain and Obama explaining my anticipated vote for this Fall. This letter is in part a response to Severin’s concern, “I don’t see how voting for Obama will send a message that you dislike McCain. … [V]oting for Obama is a vote for socialism and that is the message that will be received by everyone in Washington.” Publicly expressing the reasons for my vote and sending the letter to the two campaigns should make my intentions clear.

First, though, I want to discuss the politics a bit. Previously I predicted that “McCain will Dukakisize” Obama. Now I’m not so sure.

Obama is a good speaker and an attractive man, and those are the two most important points in his favor (which doesn’t say much for the American public). But his far-left ties will alienate many voters, particular rural ones. Nor will he excite the pro-Israel left.

McCain is a horrible speaker, as a left-wing YouTube video illustrates. He’s about as exciting as a box of Depends. I doubt that McCain does well with women or younger voters. He’s irritated various leaders of the religious right, and he’s enraged the libertarian right with his campaign censorship law. So I don’t know how excited his base will be to work for him. (It will be interesting to see whether Clinton’s supporters can get fully behind Obama.)

McCain is from the Interior West, but the Interior West generally hates him. Romney stomped McCain in Colorado, for example. The Interior West also hates the Clintons, so Obama cleaned up. While I’m tempted to say that Obama’s far-left ties will alienate Interior West voters more than McCain’s populist-right statism will, I’m not entirely sure about this.

McCain seems to have a better shot at taking Florida, as McCain won the primary there, while Obama didn’t seem to do as well.

Obama is actually beating McCain according to some markers. The University of Iowa’s U.S. Presidential Election Market shows Obama leading. A Rasmussen poll from today reports: “Obama now attracts 45% of the vote while John McCain earns 40%. That five-point lead for Obama is up from a two-point advantage over the past couple of days. Before that, for much of last week, McCain had enjoyed a slight edge.”

Rasmussen also reports that “11% say they are not willing to vote for an African-American presidential candidate.” While it’s unpleasant to consider that over a tenth of the country seems to be racist (but perhaps they’re merely unreliable poll takers), I doubt that any of those votes would have gone to Hillary, either.

The upshot is that, while I think McCain will win, my previous prediction probably was premature given the earliness of the season.

Nevertheless, barring some sort of surprising revelation or new twist, I’ve already decided to cast the strongest vote possible against McCain by marking in Obama. Following are my reasons.

[July 21, 2008, Update: I have changed my mind on this issue for reasons explained elsewhere. I see no reason to send Obama a new letter updating him on my position, as last time his campaign just sent me a generic, non-responsive letter, anyway.]

Open Letter to Senators McCain and Obama

Dear Senators McCain and Obama,

I am saddened that you two are my choices for President. I cannot vote in favor of any candidate this year. However, I deem that McCain is the worst evil in the race, and therefore I’ve decided to mark my ballot for Obama as the strongest possible vote against McCain.

My vote should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any idea or policy that Obama advocates. In my estimation, Obama is essentially a socialist in orientation who would do everything in his power to expand political control of the economy. My only hope is that, should Obama win, he will be too weak a president to further muck up the economy too badly.

While I detest many things about both candidates, I offer three main reasons for voting against McCain.

1. I cannot vote for any candidate who gloats about shredding the First Amendment. McCain’s campaign censorship law is despicable and unforgivable.

2. McCain’s web page states that the candidate advocates “ending abortion.” I cannot vote for any candidate who promotes faith-based politics at the expense of individual rights. While I also fear that Obama will erode the separation of church and state, at least rhetorically he has endorsed the principle, and I believe that the Democratic party would reign in some potential abuses in this area.

3. While Obama’s foreign policy of appeasement frightens me, McCain’s call to “sacrifice your life” frightens me even more. I favor strong military defense of American lives. Unfortunately, McCain seems intent on following or expanding Bush’s policy of sacrificing American lives for endless occupations that weaken America’s defenses without defeating the enemy.

Again, even though my vote will add to Obama’s column, my vote should not be taken as support for Obama or anything that he stands for, but only my opposition to McCain.

Maybe someday a candidate for president will actually earn my vote, but this is not the year for that.


Ari Armstrong

If you wish to explain your intended vote to the candidates, following are their campaign addresses.

John McCain 2008
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215

Obama for America
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, IL 60680

[July 21, 2008, Update: I have changed my mind on this issue for reasons explained elsewhere. I see no reason to send Obama a new letter updating him on my position, as last time his campaign just sent me a generic, non-responsive letter, anyway.]

3 thoughts on “Open Letter to Senators McCain and Obama”

  1. Ari,
    I have been a long time subscriber to your emails and I agree with many of your positions. However, I am in total disagreement with you about John McCain verses “Osama” Obama. Sen. Barrack Obama is a die hard socialist.
    He made this clear on numerous occations over the summer before his chances of being the Dem. nominee became clear. He made clear his intensions to entreat with socialist dictator Hugo Chavez, and Fascist Dictator Achmadenajhad without preconditions and in light of what these two despots have said about capitalism, freedom, and liberty in general. His commencement speech at Wesleyen college was very telling about who this man is. He told the graduates they had an obligation to society to serve the collective and he hoped they would resist the trappings of the “money market.”

    I don’t give a hoot about what color he is, what his religion is, or even his who his radical friends and associates are. What I do care about is his ideology. McCain’s ideology is firmly and unquestionably Capitalist. Obama’s is Socialist as shown in his Socialist-Medical plan, his desire to build labor armies (i.e. volunteer organizations that emphasize collective rather than individual values) and his distain for small-business by wanting to raise taxes on income and dividends.
    As a classical-Liberal (in the VonMises sense of the term) I too am disgusted with the choices for president this election cycle, but for the love of the freedom and the blood spilt to preserve it over the last two Centuries I cannot vote for a socialist. No country to date has escaped the mass political murders and tyranny that comes with this type of government.

    I totally agree with your gripes about McCain; it is my opinion they are valid. However, I must also think about the future of this great Republic when I cast my vote and compare the candidates voting records to the Bill of Rights and see which candidate has voted to violate it the least.
    Obama’s record on gun-control, property rights, and government interferrence is aborrent.
    McCain’s isn’t much better, but it IS better, and too me at least, that’s what counts.

    Therefore, allow me to state that I respectfully disagree with your descison to vote for Obama and in turn I shall hold my nose and vote for McCain.

    -Your loyal Fan

  2. Ari wrote:

    >While Obama’s foreign policy of appeasement frightens me, McCain’s call to “sacrifice your life” frightens me even more.

    I think that’s the key line here. McCain’s call is not one of the usual socialist vagaries; it’s an explicit call for a new degree of sacrifice in America and it chills me too. Nevertheless, I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to do with my vote come November. I view my vote as valuable as the chance that it can decide the election, which is slim to none (especially given where I live). Quite frankly, I’m inclined to sit the whole thing out; I sanction none of it and choose to dedicate myself to the larger and more pressing task of fighting for the intellectual sea change that will spare us these irritating and near-fruitless moral dilemmas (and that’s not to say that I don’t recognize this post and your position as part of that same struggle). Quite frankly, I simply hate that the fate our nation has come to this.

    Best Regards,


  3. Evil is evil, and voting for Idi Amin in protest to Adolf is about as stupid as shooting yourself to protest gun control.

    You want to send a message? Do what Jefferson wrote about and withdraw the “consent of the governed”. Don’t support a game you know is rigged – someone will rightfully observe that you asked for it.

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