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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

When I first registered to vote in 1999, I registered as a Republican. I did so to vote in the 2000 Republican Presidential primary for Sen. John McCain, when he ran against then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

My vote for McCain was the first vote of my adult life. I became politically aware watching McCain tell rich corn farmers in Iowa that he wasn't going to waste America's wealth on their subsidies..

He rebuked Christian conservatives for their un-American preoccupation with moral authoritarianism and refused to consort with their demagogues.

He was determined to trim down the military budget by getting rid of archaic expenditures. He wanted to rebuild the military in a thoughtful way and provide a worthy institution to those who wanted to fight for America. It was his hope that a prideful, efficient military would allow individual Americans the personal and collective freedom to choose nonviolence in a violent world.

He was more than a maverick. He was the voice of reason, crying out in the wilderness. I organized voter registration drives in my dorm with the hope that new voters like me would become McCain voters.

I proudly cast my vote for McCain in the Florida primary even after he fell victim to the most vicious sort of political tactics. I clung to my hope that he would continue his battle.

Eight years later, McCain is still in an uphill battle. The difference is that he now commands the political zealots who were his undoing in 2000. He no longer fights against unprincipled men and women. He now lacks the righteous, thoughtful resilience he was armed with in 2000.

The Republican Party has boxed McCain into a corner.

He is doing and saying whatever he is told by strategists with a winning record. As a result, he has been reduced to rallying the emotionally charged and blatantly confused masses against his fellow patriots and former supporters.

What made this man of steel give up on fighting the good fight? What broke him?

Regardless of the answer, I believe this election has the power to restore the old McCain - if he loses. There are worse things than losing elections.

Former Vice President Al Gore allowed a single political pursuit to eclipse his personal struggle with the extinction of mankind. He convinced himself and others that Bush and the entire Republican Party was the enemy, instead of the totality of forces that would destroy our planet.

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Al Gore's failure in 2000 forced him to reconsider himself and his motives. This period of self-reflection is what made him the man who inspires us today. He is once again fighting the good fight. Slowly but surely, he is gaining ground.

Denying McCain in his empty pursuit for the presidency is the only thing that can return him to a purposeful role in this world.

Vote for Sen. Barack Obama not just for the sake of our country, but for our world.

Vote Obama for the sake of John McCain, a political hero buried in the shambles of a broken party.

Michael Belle is a political science graduate student. His column appears on Wednesdays.

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