Wednesday, July 14, 2004

John Kerry - Pro and Con

Okay, so there’s this debate going on among leftists and further-to-the-leftists: why elect John Kerry when he’s so centrist it will barely make a difference? The argument is that John Kerry’s record shows that he isn’t nearly as far to the left as he would need to be to actually change anything, so why would leftists vote for him? The counter-argument is that George Bush’s policies and tactics have been so destructive and disastrous that just getting Bush out of office is reason enough to vote for Kerry.

I feel personally involved with this discussion because my first choice for president was Dennis Kucinich. I volunteered with his campaign last fall and felt passionate about what he stood for: defending the public interest against corporations and big business, re-establishing America as a cooperative and supportive nation in the global community, making sure every single person in the U.S. had access to basic needs such as a living wage and universal health care. When people would point out what a long-shot he was, I’d answer, “I’m not supporting Kucinich because I believe he’ll really end up in the White House. I’m supporting him because I believe he’s the only candidate who belongs there.”

I still believe Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate who belongs there, and I still support his platform more than anyone else’s. I look at John Kerry and I see someone who plays it safe, who won’t challenge the status quo and who will ultimately support big business, health insurance companies and a foreign policy of slightly less arrogance and destruction than Bush’s. I look at John Edwards and I see someone slightly further to the right than Kerry. Edwards seems to support a strong military and an economy that sacrifices American jobs in favor of corporate profits.

Someone argue me on these opinions. Please.

I want to believe Kerry and Edwards will shepherd America into a time of prosperity and international cooperation, when rights are respected and we re-build our reputation with the rest of the world. I want to believe they’ll work to even out our growing economic disparities, keep us out of unfair military campaigns and give other nations in distress the help they truly need. I want to believe the Kerry administration will fight, no matter the cost, for Americans to have access to decent healthcare and a quality education and a minimum wage you can actually live on.

But I don’t really believe any of that. Here’s what I do believe: I believe that the Kerry administration will not twist foreign policy in order to carry out an unspoken agenda, or try to make frivolous amendments to the Constitution, or press its lawyers to find ways around the Geneva Conventions, or stack the Supreme Court with the most conservative judges possible, or pretend that backing a president that was not elected by the people is business as usual.

It’s true that to support John Kerry because of what he is NOT is to take a very weak rhetorical stand, and doing so doesn’t fill me with the pride of living by my convictions. But even though I know Dennis Kucinich is my man, I also know that desperate times call for desperate measures. Even in the worst moments of the Watergate crisis and the Iran-Contra scandal, the United States did not face the kind of international criticism and hostility that George W. Bush has brought upon us. We gotta get rid of him. Any move, even towards the center, is a necessary goal.

So, looking at what’s on the menu here -- John Kerry and John Edwards, centrist supporters of the status quo? Yes, please.

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