We started losing our country to the anger of extremism in the late nineties, when ugly partisan politics drew energy away from national defense. The Republicans used a lurid blue dress to prosecute a case against immorality, galvanizing those who believe in the absolute righteousness of God and country. Did impeaching Clinton make us safer? Did the new president grab the reigns of national security? Not a chance.
Lust may be bad, but pride is worse. Hubris permitted both the attacks of September 11 and the subsequent failure to bring the terrorists to justice. Distracted by greed for oil and power, George Bush armed himself with outright deception and the bludgeon of fear, and prosecuted an unjust war. In his pursuits, Bush has squandered our wealth, our reputation, and our security.
John McCain supported Bush's war and aims to further it, indulging himself at the expense of true honor. "Country First" is his rallying cry, and narrowly interprets this as the righteousness of American dominance. He is selling this to his supporters as moral clarity, and using nostalgia to promote intellectual sloth.
There's a difference between self-sacrifice and being suckered. John McCain is asking people to sacrifice the future of the country for his antiquated ideas of American leadership. Money is power, and our national profligacy has ensured that using wealth to secure power is a losing proposition. Terrorists will only gain more power as we doggedly pursue success in Iraq, and we will only become less powerful as we plunge deeper in debt. Only through sacrificing the dubious notion of wining an unjust war can we reclaim respect and security. Only through sacrificing the extremes of material wealth can we hope for a strong and moral future.