Next Tuesday, voters in the City of Alexandria and the Commonwealth of Virginia will vote in Democratic and Republican party primaries toward a historic November election.
As the 2008 presidential lineup now shapes up, for the first time in 80 years there will be no candidate on the ballot who has served before as the nations President or Vice President.
It is going to be a Presidential election of extraordinary importance. As birthplace of more American presidents (eight) than any other state in the union, Virginians take a very special pride in this quadrennial national leadership process.
There are times in our history so very perilous that they cry out for a steady and experienced national leader, someone so trusted that we may feel absolutely confident to place the fate of the country in that persons hands to bring both national parties together for the common American cause, at home and abroad.
This is one of those times.
Among all the candidates of both parties, only Democratic Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain have demonstrated broad understanding of the issues and shown the vision to meet very large challenges ahead.
The Democratic Party has presented its voters with a deep bench of talent this presidential election year to move beyond a smug and deeply divisive President, who believes that a billion dollars a day spent in Iraq is a better expenditure than say, building a Metro line to Dulles or constructing 10 new TC Williams High Schools per day across the country in less affluent school districts.
We certainly can do better than the last seven years of fiscal recklessness in this administration. Bill Clinton left office in 2000 with a sound, surging economy and a $168 billion budget surplus after (gasp!) raising our taxes to pay down the fiscal recklessness of the previous two Republican administrations. How is it that Democrats in the last 15 years have become the voice of fiscal restraint, responsibility and spending moderation?
The decision not to endorse Hillary Clinton is a tough one. She possesses many of the same inherent political gifts as her husband, and by all accounts has served the voters of New York well. She gets a bad rap for many of the things that she is not (a hotheaded spendthrift from the page book of previous Democratic liberals) and if she is the nominee, she would make an excellent president.
But it is difficult to cast a blind eye on her early support of the U.S. buildup in Iraq, and she has waffled so many times (as John Kerry did in 2004) on her support that one has to ask critically if she just blows in the direction of prevailing political winds.
On the other hand, Barack Obama came out vigorously and early against US involvement in Iraq, and never waivered. Or as Caroline Kennedy put it last week, Barack is a president like my father.
While most of us would prefer to base our decisions at the ballot box on policy differences, this is probably the starkest line between Hillary and Barack: who will extricate us the quickest from a costly, never-ending war.
And while Obama is short on experience, something which gives us discomfort, hes long on the kind of real-life experiences which would serve him well at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. A Harvard-trained lawyer, he foresook the padded route to corporate attorney and instead rolled up his sleeves to work the gritty neighborhoods of Chicagos South Side and started a voter registration drive which signed up 100,000 new voters.
Alexandria is not Chicago, but as the nations 166th largest city we suffer a lot of the same intractable problems that it does. We have homelessness, unfunded federal mandates, immigration problems et al. These issues need attention, and we feel that Obama is best-suited to address them.
John McCain has a rare brand of national experience together with a courage and soul visibly forged by those years he spent, after his plane was shot down, as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and later by more than two decades boldly fighting for needed change on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Plainly put, he is far greater than just another ambitious politician.
In this election campaign, during which most candidates have fashioned and then re-fashioned their core beliefs to fit the political winds, Senator McCain shows a person of unswerving straight conviction and integrity. His values, his beliefs, his personal goals and principles were brutally tempered in war and have since been built and deeply tested in congressional service.
John McCains fundamental beliefs on domestic issues are founded upon his conviction that it is each persons basic responsibility to look after himself, and that the governments job is essentially to take care of those fairly needing help. He remains a believer in the power of tax cuts and is leader of a new growing band of both Democrats and Republicans determined to end wasteful (i.e. pork barrel) spending in Washington.
On foreign policy, McCain as President would clearly be best prepared to maintain a strong secure nation respected around the world for honoring its commitments.
On the tough Iraq war situation, we disagree with Sen. McCains position that the United States should stay the course, but this seasoned military and foreign policy expert may be one of the most skilled to get us out. He said at the wars beginning that our attack to take down the brutality of Saddam Hussein as a threat to Middle East peace was the right thing to do; but that in launching the full Iraq War the Bush administration failed by having no plan to end it and bring peace to the region. McCain then led the firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and boldly initiated the controversial and so far successful U.S. troop surge devised by Gen. David Petraeus.
On the now hot immigration issue, McCain advocates immigration reform both to safeguard our borders and to provide a just pathway to U.S. citizenship (not amnesty) for the 12 million illegal aliens in the country now living also among us here, a position he shares with Senator Obama.
Planet in peril? McCain has long been far out front on both the global warming issue and on conservation of the nations natural resources and open space land, an important issue here in Fauquier County.
On an issue of special concern to Virginia, McCain is a firm supporter of the countrys right-to-work law guaranteeing that working people may choose whether or not to join a labor union and not be forced by a proposed new Federal law which would require everyone to join and pay union dues to keep a job, which is supported by Senators Obama and Clinton.
On all of the major national issues now confronting this country, John McCain has shown time and again a now urgently needed special capacity to reach across liberal and conservative political lines to achieve consensus.
In war and in peace, through our toughest recent times, McCain has shown the courage of his convictions made things successfully happen in the highest best interests of all Americans. He would lead us and return respect of America and its ideals throughout the world.
Some say that at age 72 John McCain may be too old for the job. Well, his mother is a vigorous and herself outspoken 96.
The Alexandria Times endorses without reservation John McCain in next weeks Republican Primary to become our next President and Commander in Chief.