“Incivility is everywhere,” Meghan McCain said during a presentation at on Monday. “It’s on television, it’s in real life, but most especially, it’s in the political arena.”
McCain, the daughter of former Presidential candidate and Arizona Sen. John McCain, spoke at the Prillamin Hall auditorium before opening up the floor to questions. The Daily Beast writer and author of the books “My Dad, John McCain” and “Dirty Sexy Politics” addressed a number of political and social issues during her lecture, specifically the future of the Republican Party in the United States.
“The town hall really is the last pure form of democracy,” McCain said. “Republicans and Democrats seem even less capable of getting along and compromising, not to mention tolerating and treating one another with respect.” McCain stated that media plays a large role in fueling political hostilities and said partisan extremism has become “flat out dangerous.”
McCain labels herself a "progressive Republican" and said she considers some members of the party “stubborn” and unwilling to cater to certain demographics. She said she voted for John Kerry in the 2004 Presidential election, and registered as a member of the Republican Party as a birthday gift to her father in 2008. Campaigning for her father’s Presidential run was a “crash course” in politics and instigated her shift in party ideals, she said.
McCain discussed the Republican Party’s inability to capitalize on electronic media as pivotal in 2008 election losses, noting that "the next generation of Republicans” will have to court college-aged voters.
She said the 2008 election results proved that “the youth vote matters."
McCain's ideologies, mainly her support of marriage equality and gay rights, have led to harsh criticism from some members of the G.O.P. She said she has been singled out by conservative pundits like Laura Ingraham but believes personal attacks should have “no place in politics or media."
McCain said she also encountered “blatant sexism” on the campaign trail, noting that the media is "obsessed" with attacking and demonizing female politicians and analysts.
“I ask our generation to demand better,” said McCain. “By bringing civility back to politics, we will be bringing back respect, tolerance and goodwill.”
McCain said she holds an “amalgam of beliefs” and believes that breaking out of extreme partisanship is essential for the future of both Republicans and Democrats.
McCain said she believes in both strong national defense and climate change and is “determined to pass marriage equality in this country.”
“I have a cross tattooed on my wrist to remind me of my faith,” McCain said. She doesn’t believe being gay is a sin and noted that “the straight, white male is not the face of America anymore.”
McCain also expressed her support for the DREAM Act. She said she is “embarrassed“ by Arizona’s controversial Minutemen Project yet does view illegal immigration as a problem that poses economic and social repercussions. She also criticized the Tea Party movement's questions about President Obama’s faith as irrelevant issues. McCain described herself as “super pro-Israel” and noted her opposition to Obama’s health care plan, stating that the overall quality of health care services would suffer under the program.
As for the near future of the Republican Party, McCain said she does not think Sarah Palin should be the party’s front-runner for the 2012 Presidential election. There are “more qualified candidates” in contention, she said, specifically former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
“I really feel she gives a new spin on a lot of things,” said attendee and KSU student Caleb Wallace. Wallace said McCain speaks “for a lot of people who have become very disappointed with the way the older generation has handled things.”
“I love the Republican Party, especially what I know it can become,” McCain said. “I don’t believe I’m the lone spokesperson for young Republicans. Our generation faces the most daunting future of all, but I believe absolutely we are the most capable. We can demand better, and we can create a better world. We can refuse to contribute to the polarization of American politics.”
“You can support gay marriage and our troops,” McCain concluded in her presentation. “We need to speak for ourselves (and) be the examples we don’t have.”