Ryan Chartrand

Yesterday, the Democratic Party continued its self-destruction with the prolonged presidential nomination extending to the Kentucky and Oregon primaries. While I am happy to see the tag-team destruction of the Democratic Party by Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton, something continues to bug me about this election cycle.

Both democratic nominees contend they are the “stronger” candidate to defeat John McCain in November, and thus warrant your support. On the flip side, Republicans urge support for McCain because he will faithfully prosecute the War on Terror, and won’t destroy our country with massive social programs and tax increases – like a Democrat would. While the War on Terror is important, I cannot in good conscience support or vote for John McCain for president.

Many people out there might throw a fit in protest because they might think that, as a conservative columnist, I should support the Republican candidate. However, for all intents and purposes, I have been a conservative since conception, long before I was ever a Republican. After all, I was fortunate enough to survive that conception – I wasn’t aborted.

I believe in limited government; low taxes; the right to bear arms; controlling our sovereignty and security by securing our border; a hand-up, not a hand out; the right to life; conservation and stewardship rather than environmental activism; free-market economies; and a strong national defense. Most importantly, I believe – as Reagan did – America is THE shining city upon a hill whose beacon light guides freedom-loving people everywhere.

Where did McCain go wrong? He has opposed the Bush tax cuts, terrorist interrogations, and an energy policy that would use our own oil resources. He also staunchly supported the amnesty bill that generated tens of millions of newly legalized immigrants – immigrants who broke the rules to be here. He also co-authored the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act, viewed by conservatives as an abridgement on our First Amendment rights to free expression.

Throughout the conservative spectrum, McCain is not our man. I am not the first to call attention to this, though. Several conservative commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter, have noted that when it comes to the general election campaign, McCain has as much work convincing Republicans to vote for him as he does with Democrats. Coulter has even gone as far as to openly support Clinton, a candidate whom she feels is more conservative than McCain.

Furthermore, in my opinion, McCain is not a leader. I admire and respect him for his service to this country; however, his record in politics shows he has been a touchy-feely “can’t we all get along” liberal appeaser. McCain was a member of the “Gang of 14,” the bipartisan group that went against party lines when it came to filibustering the Senate in 2005 and 2006.

McCain and his fellow presidential candidates from the Senate are consensus builders – which is just fine if you are a senator, kindergarten teacher or marriage counselor. As president, however, you have to be the leader of the nation. You have to be able to not be liked. You have to be able to tell our enemies “no.” You have to be able to LEAD! Based on his record in the Senate, McCain is not that leader. But then again, none of the candidates are.

Bottom Line: there is no real substantial difference in the candidates as none of them are truly conservative. Many conservatives have been lost for some time as to what they should do when it comes time to vote in November. For me, this means I will not vote for president in this election. I take the privilege of voting quite seriously, but I cannot compromise my values just to vote for a candidate who pretends to be a conservative.

I regret to announce to the world that I am a conservative without a candidate and am not represented by the party that was built upon conservative values. Until things change in the Republican party, I am a conservative in exile.

Ian Nachreiner is an agriculture science senior, treasurer for the Cal Poly College Republicans and a Mustang Daily conservative columnist.

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