John McCain is almost certainly the republican candidate for the US presidential election at the end of this year. That much is agreed upon. However, during his bid for the republican nomination there was serious concern over his loyalty to factions of the Republican party.
John McCain is seen by many as a maverick within his own party. When the candidates entered the race, there was barely a mention of John McCain. He was sidelined early in the 2004 contest, it was expected to happen again. How wrong the pundits were, John McCain steadily gained momentum, and he never gave it up. In a contest as important as the US candidate primaries, media momentum is integral to a successful campaign.
So why the concern?
McCain is a mystery in terms of his own personal ideology. He is typically right, but yet he supported a bill ensuring amnesty for illegal immigration. In reality an effective and pragmatic policy — but ideologically untenable by many powerful Republican party leaders. His own pet political projects never seemed to tow the party line, and often deviated from ‘standard’ Republican doctrines.
The Parties in Play
During the George H.W Bush, and then the George W. Bush era’s there was considerable influence from three factions in the Republican party. Firstly, there were the Neo-Conservatives. Seeking to spread ‘democracy’ at the point of the sword, and influenced by the renowned RAND institute — it was concerned with Realism in politics, and fighting communism’s remnants. using the Fall of the USSR, they saw an opportunity to promote American dominance throughout the world.
Secondly, the evangelical faction of the Republican party had large influence over both Bush’s. The faction had been active within republican circles, virtually ensuring Reagan’s tenure as a president. There influence can be shown in the actions of G.W.B who has continued to replace retiring supreme court judges with right leaning judges — often judges acceptable to the evangelical division.
Thirdly, there is the libertarian faction of the republican party. While not as strong as the other two (as evidenced by Ron Paul this year) the faction does have considerable sway when it comes to Bread and Butter domestic issues such as Education (support for school vouchers) and Health (their support for a private system). Many of their opinions shape the domestic policies of Republican cabinets.
McCain has a real problem in calming their fears over his presidential bid. It is probable that the evangelicals will stay at home this year, and the libertarian wing will be supporting Ron Paul until the bitter end. It is unclear if his failure to secure the nomination will shift votes back to McCain — he does support NAFTA, but is that enough for the hardcore government destroyers?
Only the neo-conservatives may support him, he is iffy on Foreign Policy and has no real policy except for Iraq, which is more of the same. Secondly, public support for the continuation of a neo-conservative created war, is only going to hurt him politically. Something he cannot avoid, against either Hillary or Obama. McCain is a maverick, a politician who can see the best or worst in everything, and who refuses to follow the herd. His election to office could be fantastic for America, or it could be very very bad. At this stage, its up to the factions in the Republican party to set his course.