This is the third of a weekly series of public forums on TMB. Watch for a new round every Monday (used to be every Wednesday). The schedule and important comment rules regarding these forums are available here.
Both McCain and Obama are touting themselves as able to unite Americans of varying political parties and ideologies.
What do you think? Who is best able to do so?
Some things to consider: McCain clearly has a more extensive bipartisan record than does Obama; however, in the past year, McCain has voted in accordance with Bush policies 95% of the time. Does this mean we can’t really make much out of McCain’s earlier bipartisan record? Or is it simply political posturing? On the other hand, McCain has been reaching across the aisle lately, even aligning himself with independent Joe Lieberman. He has even gained support from some former supporters of Clinton. Political posturing? Or does it showcase the bipartisan spirit that McCain will carry into his presidency? But in terms of the issues (other than environmental issues), where can we see good evidence that McCain is going to be less polarizing than Bush?
Obama, on the other hand, has one of the most liberal voting records in the Senate. How will his voting record translate into his presidency? Obama has talked a great deal about bipartisanship and unity — is this just talk? What can we say about the fact that Obama has, in fact, pulled a lot of independents and even some conservatives to his side — in spite of his liberal voting record? Will they be disappointed? One thing to consider is Obama’s talk about including Republicans to serve on his Cabinet. Also, his outreach to people of faith — one very important reason that he is liked by some conservatives. Just talk? Or does this outreach point to an important bipartisan spirit? In addition, how much will Obama have to stay to the left in order to keep together Democratic voters (such as disaffected Clinton supporters)?
One question for which I’d be particularly interested in hearing your responses: What could Obama or McCain realistically do, between now and November, to improve your opinion of them as a bipartisan leader?
Please don’t be afraid to express your thoughts … all are welcome here (within reason).