I could write a long list, but I feel like a short post. For a start, there would have been no stimulus bill, which in all likelihood would mean higher unemployment and a more sluggish recovery today (and that would mean higher fiscal deficits, by the way). We certainly would not have healthcare reform – there would have been no chance of covering an extra 30 million people, banning denial of coverage based on pre-existing conditions, bending the curve with delivery system reforms, or regulating the ability of private insurers to cover abortion. There would have been no serious attempt at financial sector reform. And while its progress seems extremely uncertain, no Republican administration would have touched cap and trade, or any attempt to tackle climate change.
These are all good, but are ultimately not the main reason for fearing McCain – that would be his belief in the transformative power of violence on the world stage. Yes, some of Obama’s actions on this front have been disappointing (if not surprising) – continued war in Afghanistan, refusal to hold war criminals to account, continued unjust imprisonment at Guantanamo, assassination as a policy action. But in every single area, McCain would have been worse, sometimes obscenely so. People seem to forget that an electoral choice is a relative choice, no more. Do you think McCain would have stood up to wicked policies of the Netanyahu administration? Worst of all, it is highly likely that McCain would have provoked war with Iran. As was noted recently: “Speaking figuratively, the Arizona Republican says the U.S. keeps pointing a loaded gun at Iran but failing to “pull the trigger.” I thank God that this man is not in power to pull that trigger.