(Hint: He’s more than just Not Bush)
(First of a three-part final push into Election Day)
It is heartening for me to see progressives — former Nader supporters in particular — line up behind John Kerry. No matter how much they might like Nader, Cobb, or other great leaders on our side, they see the danger of a Bush administration and want to help take our country back. And certainly, the complaining has subsided somewhat after the way Kerry demolished Dubya in the first debate.
Still, why is a legitimate hero of the Vietnam War, a man who served to prevent some poor kid from having to and then came home to tell the truth, a man who chose a life of service instead of a life of luxury, who helped drag the Iran-Contra affair into the light of day, who brought down BCCI, which Washington Monthly describes as “the terrorists’ favorite bank,” and who has consistently and reliably fought for the environment, women’s rights, and social justice, still facing such reluctance from the left?
His record isn’t perfect from a standard of purist liberal ideology, certainly. Kerry’s position on trade is as nuanced as one might expect, and he seems to have given the issue considerable thought. He has been beholden to various lobbyists at times, to be sure, though how much hold that’s given them is questionable. (Right now, however, as the saying goes, we are his special interest.) And of course, his vote on the authorization of force for Iraq has been vexing to the left, as many feel it was pure, cynical opportunism. I have never agreed fully with that sentiment, but I do sympathize with it.
As my readers might imagine, however, I am far less concerned with ideology than a simple question: will he make a good president? Whether you are liberal, moderate, conservative, or something not easily plotted on a one-dimensional scale, I believe your answer is yes.
Senator Kerry’s record, ironically enough, is one of looking for the bad guys and facing them down. You know the Vietnam story — turning his boat toward the enemy, then turning his political fate towards Nixon’s fire. But his career went from there to becoming a prosecutor, to his career in the Senate which (as I mentioned above) is best known for his ability to hunt down danger and corruption. What better leader to face the twin dangers of foreign terrorism and domestic misrule? Who among the Democratic candidates would have been a more apt choice to clean up our Homeland Security debacle, the intelligence mess, the crisis in international diplomacy, and the genuinely vital campaign against al-Qaeda and its ilk?
His domestic policy is hardly the “lesser evil” either, particularly for liberals and moderates. Kerry’s plans to fight outsourcing and protect American workers are simply the latest developments in a long career of analyzing issues and developing sound policy. Whether your issues include environment, civil rights, choice, education, energy policy, the military, or science, John Kerry (as his running mate is fond of saying) has a plan. His health care and economy plans may not be everyone’s cup of tea (I’m not the biggest fan of his gun stance, myself), but in every case I’m convinced that his position is at least good and sound, and they go up from there. I’m particularly impressed by his statements on security and energy issues.
Like most of the Senate, he voted for the Patriot Act on faith, true. It’s easy to forget what the climate was like so shortly after the attacks, to forget that the Pentagon was still vomiting smoke and the anthrax scare was in full swing. There was much taken on trust. Now, he has outlined exactly what he will do — or rather, undo — about the Patriot Act, taking out the egregious attacks on liberty and justice. He isn’t proposing universal health care immediately, but in the country’s current financial and political state, it would be madness to do so. Our environmental and labor laws will not become identical to Britain’s, France’s, or Germany’s on January 20, but they wouldn’t even if Nader did get elected.
No candidate is perfect. Senator Kerry is no exception. Nevertheless, I would be voting for him even if every other candidate in the general election were a viable, electable option. I was a Deaniac before his meteoric rise, and I remain a fan of the Doctor’s to this day. We all had our first choices during the primaries. Nevertheless, Senator Kerry has proven to be both a powerful and principled candidate, and even if I disagree with him in a few areas, I believe that he will make an excellent leader for our country. President Kerry will move us forward, not back, George W. Bush notwithstanding.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt my enthusiasm to know that the only other real option is the waking nightmare we live even now. That, however, is another article.
(/) Roland X
Do Something: http://www.johnkerry.com/states/