Mark Hillman

It's not about John McCain.

Nor is it not about Rush Limbaugh or Laura Ingraham or James Dobson, although their views harmonize more closely with my own and those of most conservatives than do McCain's.

This election isn't about party or personalities, but about principles that will guide our country for the next four years or more.

Will our nation trend in a direction that is generally conservative or one that reverses modest gains of the past 28 years and lurches toward cradle-to-grave paternalism?

That's why, despite several disagreements, John McCain gets my support against whomever the Democrats nominate. It's also why principled conservatives should check their McCain disdain at the ballot box.

Recently, some conservatives behave as if they have nothing to lose if McCain loses. But a McCain loss equals a Barack Obama win, and we have plenty lose from that.

Conservatives remain unified on three key policy objectives: pro-growth tax policy and no-nonsense budgeting, judges who respect the constitution, and a resolve to defeat Islamic terrorists.

On these key issues the choice between McCain and Obama cannot be dismissed as the lesser of two evils. The choice is clear and the stakes are enormous.

McCain is one of just five Senators who flatly reject pork-barrel budget earmarks. He has vowed to veto any spending bill containing earmarks and has already incurred the wrath of several pork-loving Republicans. That's a welcome change from the you-scratch-my-back, I'll-scratch-yours spending of the last eight years.

By contrast, Obama has promised programs calculated to grow the already bloated budget by $900 billion.

Despite his vote against the Bush tax cuts, McCain has vowed to fight to preserve them. Obama conveniently forgets that middle class families benefited most from the Bush tax cuts and instead demagogues against "tax cuts for the rich." However, he can't pay for his big government utopia without squeezing the working class hard.

As a Vietnam veteran, McCain understands the lasting consequences of an ignominious defeat. America's stature was badly damaged for years after Vietnam. We now see that McCain's prescription for Iraq after Saddam was right, and the Bush-Rumsfeld strategy was wrong.

Had Obama's policy of surrender and retreat carried the day, the now-vindicated surge would be merely another paper gathering dust on a shelf, Iraq would remained mired in bloody sectarian attacks, and Iran would be emboldened to direct its terrorist accomplices toward Afghanistan.


Mark Hillman

Mark Hillman is a Colorado native, a farmer, "recovering journalist" and a former Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate.