An Open Letter to John McCain

Dear John McCain,

Every relationship requires effort. I want to do my part. But there needs to be common ground to start with, and you’re making it harder and harder for me to find where it is.

I’m an optimist and a woman of faith. I believe we are strong because our nation is meant to be, as President Reagan often reminded us, a "shining city upon a hill."

You spoke in Los Angeles the other day about our country and its place in the world. You talked about political, economic and military strength, and international citizenship.

I strained to hear you mention our moral uniqueness — our being that "city on a hill." But I heard not a hint.

President Nixon once observed that Americans often make the mistake of thinking that conflict in the world is the result of misunderstanding rather than difference of belief.

Because you seem not to appreciate that our beliefs make us different, you suggest more talk. You propose more international compacts and organizations, as if we don’t have enough.

What exactly are the values we would share with others in your concept for a League of Democracies? The European Union countries can’t even agree on a common constitution.

A 2000 survey of the United States and 14 Western European democracies checked the percentage of residents who never attend church. France was highest, with 60 percent, followed by Great Britain (55 percent), Belgium (46 percent) and West Germany (30 percent). The European mean was 36, more than twice as high as in the United States, which had 16 percent.

In 2004, the European Union rejected Italy’s nominee for justice minister of the EU, Rocco Buttiglione, because he is an open Christian who condemned homosexuality.

We, of course, should strive for peace and seek commerce with all. But let’s not forget who we are and seek some pseudo-tranquility by compromising ourselves and becoming more like others. Remember, John, "For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

I, like most Americans, share your deep concern about the threat of terrorism and radical Islam. I agree we should engage this aggressively.

But I’m afraid I don’t share your sense that this is the "transcendent threat" of our time.

John, half our country today is ready to vote for a presidential candidate, be it a white woman or a black man, who favors promiscuous use of government power to pretend to solve every domestic challenge we have.

Both these candidates want to nationalize health care, raise taxes to deal with our Social Security and Medicare crises, and onerously regulate the mortgage industry. Both condemned the Supreme Court’s decision banning partial birth abortion. Both reject the only hope we have for addressing our education problems: school choice.

I appreciate your concern for how we are treating the 600 or so detainees we are holding in Guantanamo.

But have you thought about the 2.3 million of our own citizens — 1 percent of our adult population — in prison? Ten percent of black men between 20 and 34 are in prison or jail.

If millions of low-income Americans would hear a genuine and aggressive message from our leadership about how conservative and traditional values address their problems, they’d be less susceptible to destructive illusions peddled by those like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

While you spoke in Los Angeles, Social Security and Medicare trustees issued a report. These systems are bankrupt and in the red by more than $50 trillion — several times our gross domestic product. This is more than a cash flow problem; this is a misuse of government crisis. Is this not a "transcendent threat?"

Our incidence of out-of-wedlock births — almost 40 percent — is 10 times greater than 50 years ago. Do you see breakdown of the American family as a "transcendent threat?"

How can we light the path to freedom for others when we are so clearly losing the way ourselves? I think the "transcendent threat" is the dimming of that light from the city on the hill.

I hope you can still listen, John.

Your fellow conservative,