Rehabilitating the Republican Party

The damage done to America’s international reputation in the past eight years under President Bush has also damaged the image of the Republican Party. The pre-existing portrayal of Republicans and US conservatives generally as ‘God, Gun and Death loving heartless bastards’ has been further damaged by the Party championing of a President ridiculed internationally for being too stupid to eat a pretzel.
6359658599645253781158575485_obamaWith a US Presidential election now just months away can the Republican Presidential Nominee John Sidney McCain III rehabilitate the image of Republican’s internationally?

If Senator McCain believes the US media is engaged in an orgy of Obama-love, the crowd of 250,000 Berliners cheering the young Senator last month will have further antagonised him.  The pictures from Berlin’s Tiergarten would seem more appropriate for Sir Bob Geldoff’s next attempt to make the world a better place by playing music, not a crowd eagerly awaiting the speech of a young black Senator from Illinois.  The promise of a “Yes We Can” wind of change to sweep the crust from Washington politics appears to have massive support within Europe.  However, the question must be asked how much of Senator Obama’s international support is a counter-reaction to the international turmoil and unpopular partnerships European countries have been forced to undertake with President Bush?

Senator McCain has won a reputation as a Republican maverick with justification, he co-sponsored campaign finance reform, supports Kyoto-style carbon capping and trading schemes as well as ‘practical solutions’ to the illegal work and residency of many Hispanic individuals.  During President Bush’s reign he opposed two out of three tax cuts and as President he would focus his attention of increasing international trade and reducing corporation tax.  Economically speaking, his position is similar to conservatives in Europe.

Senator McCain also introduced legislation that would apply in Guantanamo Bay forbidding the use of torture, practices he was subject to in Vietnam.  His environmental policies reject President Bush’s scepticism and seek to really tackle the issue of climate change by targeting carbon emissions.  Senator McCain also spoke out to defend Senator John Kerry’s military career when right-wing pro-Bush political groups attacked Senator Kerry’s military record in the 2004 Presidential race.  What was effectively aide to the enemy during a tight and essential Presidential race for both parties.  As such Senator McCain has significant political differences from President Bush.  If elected, can Senator McCain turn around the rising levels of anti-American and anti-Republican Party sentiment in Europe?

Standing in his way are many cultural political differences.  As a Republican conservative Senator McCain has political opinions that are simply untenable in the UK and many other west European states.  He supports the second amendment guaranteeing the right to own guns and seeks to reduce the growth of Medicare spending. Most significantly, Senator McCain supports the appointment of Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe V Wade, the judgement that is effectively a Federal guarantee that every woman in the US has a right to choose to have an abortion for non-medical grounds.

While the Republican policies have the support of approximately half of America’s voters the large portion of the Republican Party are frequently overlooked internationally.  The international media can sell more papers and have more articles read by focusing on the God, Gun and Death loving right-wing Christian Evangelical’s, such as those who founded the Museum of Life in Arkansas.  While media attention here is important, understating the cultural identity of America and its role in this area often leaves American conservatives portrayed in a manner which defies belief.

It cannot get worse than Bush

With the negativity for American religious conservatives tied to the Republican Party and the international resentment the Bush Presidency has generated in Europe and around the world, would President McCain remove these negative conceptions and promote an America capable of fulfilling its complex international role?  Certainly one great advance in the leadership Europe seeks from America would be the implementation of a Kyoto style carbon trading scheme.  However, Presidential Nominee McCain’s pro-environmental Presidential policies do not match the voting record of Senator McCain.  The US website Project Vote Smart maintains non-partisan records and details of all US politicians from the Presidential Nominee’s down to local officials such as the Commissioners of Jefferson County, Alabama.  In every environmental Senate vote since 2005 Senator McCain is recorded with a no vote.  His votes in 2005 supported exploiting arctic oil reserves in one of nature’s last bastions and supported a Congressional disapproval of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to limit Mercury pollution.

If Senator John Sidney McCain III does become President McCain it will usher in a new era for US and EU relations.  The environment has been one of the EU’s greatest achievements and its most far reaching endeavour.

If President McCain were to impose carbon caps and a carbon trading scheme he will likely find greater support from the EU’s citizens.  In this way he might start to rehabilitate the current image of exactly who Republicans are and what they stand for.  Failure to bring about an effective environmental policy revolution in Washington would further damage the credibility of Republican politicians in Europe and other developing nations who have signed up to international carbon capping schemes.  While the environment is one of many policies that Senator McCain could utilise to improve the image of America’s other political party, it is mainly whether he can succeed, whatever success is, in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan that he would be chiefly judged.  His legacy will be largely determined by the outcomes of his policies regarding those two countries.

While the world waits the decision on who is to succeed President Bush, Senator McCain is right to point out that the policies of the candidates are not the main focus of media attention.  No policy of either candidate is going to remove the enthusiasm the world has for the unfolding story of a young black man trying to overcome the white-male domination of the US political system.  A country founded in 1776 with a large population of slaves and the declaration that “all men are created equal”.

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