Perhaps the most critical, principled reason to support McCain is the Supreme Court. Judging by their appointments' adherence to the text of the constitution, Republican presidents have had mixed success in rolling back judicial activism.
However, two things are indisputable: the constructionist justices on today's court were all appointed by Republicans, and the Democrat appointments are all undeniably liberal activists.
John Paul Stephens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the two justices most likely to retire soon, are both activists who re-write the constitution in contravention of the plain text. Replacing either or both with another John Roberts, Antonin Scalia or Clarence Thomas — each of whom McCain supported — could at last restore the court's historic role as a defender of broad individual liberty and a restraint against over-reaching government.
If Obama makes the next appointment, we can be certain he will fortify the court's activist wing. Should a constructionist justice retire or die, Obama could swiftly reverse the gains of the last 28 years.
Finally, the candidates' views on the sanctity of human life provide another stark contrast that conservatives dare not forget. McCain has consistently voted to restrict abortion, parting with pro-lifers only on stem cell research. Obama not only supports abortion on demand but callously voted to deny medical care to infants born during unsuccessful abortions.
Some conservatives argue that a Democrat victory would galvanize Republicans for 2010 and produce a public backlash, a la 1994. That's a tremendous gamble.
Democrats controlled Congress for 40 years from 1955 to 1995. In the Senate, Democrats ruled for 34 of those years. Here in Colorado, perhaps more than anywhere else, Republicans should realize how quickly political fortunes can change and how hard it is to reverse that tide.
Conservatives generally recognize short-sighted self-indulgence when practiced by others. Now many conservatives are in danger of practicing a suicidal self-indulgence of their own.
We must put aside self-pity and frustration and do what we always have done: choose the right and responsible course for our country.
If instead we purposefully withhold our votes to gratify our personal pride and prejudice, the surrendered freedoms, suffocating tax burdens, and national insecurity that result will be as much our responsibility as that of those we "helped" to elect.