Unity Ticket

A "Unity Ticket"?

Jonah Goldberg at The National Review has proposed something that I've been wondering about myself -- and something that John Stewart suggested to McCain on his recent visit to the show. He suggests that John McCain pick a running mate who was not a Republican. Stewart had recommended he choose Sen. Clinton -- and speculated that it would guarantee his election.

To a warfighter, this makes tremendous sense. The Republican brand is damaged, as a lot of people have noted; Democratic party affiliation is way up over a few years ago. On the other hand, the Democratic party is seriously divided between its two candidates. Sen. Clinton has been growing stronger in every nonblack demographic since Super Tuesday, in the face of a powerful media campaign to derail her. Clinton leads McCain in a number of swing states that Obama would have to win to carry the Electoral College -- including both Ohio and Florida, where both lead Obama. A unity ticket with these two would probably decide the election.

From a military science perspective, it would be somewhat like an application of COIN theory to domestic elections: divide an enemy, convert part of it into an ally, and use that part to defeat the remnant and force it to seek terms from you.

Furthermore, even if McCain wins, he is going to be facing a Democratic Congress. That much is clear. A unity ticket would find such a Congress easier to deal with -- it would lessen the importance of party membership in Congressional debates, for one thing. For another, it might divide the opposition in Congress even as it divided the Democratic electorate.

Finally, speaking as a Southern Democrat who has wanted to move the party back to the right for some time, it would consolidate the lesson that "the left" is poison to the party. If you want to govern, you move to the center. Neither the antiwar nor post-sovereignity internationalists nor the surviving children of Marxism are going to carry America; but the Democratic party does have a lot to offer the country, if it can banish the members who distrust the military, do not favor a strong and robust defense, or the use of that defense to engage the world's problems.

Of course, Republicans hate Hillary. My own respect for her has been rising these last few months, as she proves what a determined fighter she is. Still, her policies and preferences are very far from my own; and McCain is weak on most of the issues I care about to start with, the clear exception (and most important issue) being victory in Iraq. Selecting Sen. Clinton would depress Republican turnout, though it would probably also create a wave of swing voters in the "swing states" where they count the most.

If Sen. Clinton were not an option for that reason, Joe Lieberman, Jim Webb, and retired Senator Sam Nunn would be good choices. I could support a mixed ticket with any of the three with a greater good will than a McCain/Clinton ticket; but such a ticket would not be quite as strong in the general election, though the McCain/Webb ticket would be close.

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