The other day, a friend of mine casually mentioned how she thought a Kerry/McCain combination would make a “nice moderate ticket”, and that it was “good that things are moving toward the center”. After I was done spit-taking and emoting steam shooting from my ears, I pressed her for details, asking if she was, therefore, a fan of the status quo. Her response was “assuming you agree that the status quo is feeling very right-wing these days, a move toward centrism represents a political shift, not a maintaining thereof”.

This line of thinking simply floors me. Moving towards the center to compete doesn’t offset rightward leanings, it solidifies them. We have a rightward shift in the government, and a Democratic party, onstensibly representing leftward values, that is considering adopting right-wing values (and candidates) in order to compete. The slight leftward shift we’d see in the government as a result of a Kerry/McCain victory would be overwhelmed by the solidification of the rightward shift in general, along with a serious narrowing of the already considerably tight ideological spectrum. In a country already plagued by disaffected and discouraged non-voters, this is not what is needed.

Fortunately it appears I’m not the only one that thinks this. Eileen McNamara elaborates:

There is a sound and simple reason why John McCain should not be John F. Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic ticket in November. He is a Republican.

The distinction still matters, even in an era when both major political parties are fixated on the nonpartisan, centrist, independent voters who political consultants insist determine the outcome of federal elections.

McCain, the crowd-pleasing “straight shooter” who lost the Republican nomination to George W. Bush in 2000, has had no such record of vacillation in his 17 years in the Senate and four in the US House of Representatives. He is a social and economic conservative and proud of it. As McCain said himself when asked about speculation that the two Vietnam war heroes might join forces to deny Bush a second term, “It’s impossible to imagine the Democratic Party seeking a prolife, free-trading, nonprotectionist, deficit hawk.”

The trouble is, it’s not that hard to imagine the self-destructive Democratic establishment doing just that. Having convinced themselves that presidential politics is less about ideas than about money and personalities, the Beltway crowd is more than capable of underestimating the intelligence of the people.

This is what is scary to me, as well. It’s not that hard to imagine the party that brought us the DLC thinking it’s a good idea to run a ticket with a Republican. That said, I don’t think it will happen. She continues:

Voters might identify less intensely with party labels than they once did, but they still know the difference between Democrats and Republicans. The electorate knows, for instance, that choosing one’s ideological opposite as a running mate is not the same thing as constructing coalitions among competing interests. That takes a skill so long missing from Washington that Capitol Hill is locked in partisan gridlock on some of the most pressing issues facing the country, from the war in Iraq to the lack of affordable health care at home. How exactly would teaming up with a fine fellow who rarely agrees with him on public policy solve that problem for Kerry?

If talk of a Kerry-McCain ticket was intended to generate buzz, mission accomplished. Marketing the pairing as a bold move, however, will only generate another round of the same old question: What does John Kerry stand for?

As previously mentioned, I think the “John Kerry doesn’t stand for anything” line is a load of BS with no more substance than the “Gore is boring/a liar/invented the Internet” nonsense. Unfortunately, the media loves loads of BS, and I agree that nominatined McCain would be suicide in this respect – the opposition would never let him live it down. I don’t think Kerry is unprincipled now, but teaming up with McCain would change my mind. John Kerry, the Democrat that stands for so little, he ran with a Republican.