Kerry for President

Santa Fe Reporter | October 27, 2004
In its recent election issue, The Economist magazine analyzed both John Kerry and George Bush’s positions on the areas most informing the 2004 presidential election. These issues included: the economy, healthcare, education, civil liberties, social security, the environment and foreign policy. The magazine concludes that while there are clear differences between the candidates’ platforms and plans, those differences are not different enough to account for the polarized tenor of this election.

Of course, the sum of these differences is quite greater than its parts. Kerry has committed to rolling back Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens. This money will be used, he says, in part to address the unacceptably high number of Americans without healthcare. On the education front, Kerry has committed to funding The No Child Left Behind Act at an appropriate level, something the Bush administration has failed to do. Regarding civil liberties, Kerry has certainly made clear his cognizance and abhorrence of the Bush administration’s penchant for Orwellian tactics. At bare minimum, John Ashcroft and Donald Rumsfeld will have to get new jobs (maybe FOX News will have some openings). Regarding social security and other entitlements, again, the attitude is quite different, although the reality—millions of ageing Baby Boomers—will make it hard for any president to finance a wholly win-win solution. As far as the environment, Kerry presents notably better options and gave a rousing call for innovation and renewable energy sources during a recent speech in Santa Fe. Bush’s White House has been repeatedly outed for ignoring science in favor of industry, for searching for ways to undo decades of federal environmental protection, for eschewing independence from the oil industry despite the economic and environmental benefits doing so would bring. As for foreign policy, Kerry expresses a decidedly greater commitment toward multilateralism than Bush has demonstrated. How executable will this be? In all likelihood, the extent to which the US can extricate itself from unilateral decision-making in pending trade agreements and other negotiations will have to be taken on a case-by-case basis. But the intent, at least, on Kerry’s part is to undo the new isolationism perpetrated by the current administration.

What these differences add up to are starkly opposing values. They add up to starkly opposing directions for the future of this country.

These are differences whose seeds were sewn with blood decades ago. The legacy of the 1960s, with its radical fights over civil rights, over war, over moral values, has ebbed and flowed over the years. Corporate power grew, the Internet was born, and political discourse in the mainstream was subsumed by more money than most of us will make in a lifetime.

And then, on September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked New York and Washington. It was said, then, that nothing would ever be the same.

The country was unified in its support for one another. Other countries wept for the thousands of lives lost here.

And then everything did change.

Bush’s response in Afghanistan and Iraq alienated numerous allies abroad. At home, discriminatory acts against Muslims began to emerge. Civil liberties were curtailed. The insidious threat of terrorism became more palpable. Beheadings, torture and death pervaded the news. And, at home, the fear and hatred grew.

These are not new emotions in America. They will always emerge when certain values are threatened. The left’s victories in the 1960s laid the foundation for today’s neo-conservative movement, just as the powerful insurgence of the radical right now has bolstered the left into aggressive, much needed, coalitions.

We believe John Kerry’s election will allow the country to preserve the values many of us equate with our American identity. We want the next president to be one who will not undo women’s reproductive freedoms through politically conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. We want a president who will allow the long overdue affording of civil rights to same-sex couples to happen. We want to see stem-cell research progress as a scientific and medical accomplishment, and not have it curtailed due to religious beliefs. The US action in Iraq needs swift re-examination and to be ended as expediently as possible. The poor, both working and otherwise, need concrete assistance to undo the growing economic injustices in this country.

But John Kerry’s election will do more than allow liberals everywhere to breathe sighs of relief. The Democratic Party’s identity crisis, its often confused attempts to stay the center, appeal to the left, while acknowledging God and Country at regular intervals, may have cost it political gains over the years. It may help explain the proliferation of new Greens, Independents, Libertarians. This growing political diversity is a natural and vital part of our democracy. But right now, today, The Democratic Party casts a wider net than The Republican Party’s current manifestation ever can.

We live now in extreme times, but as a poet once said, the center cannot hold. John Kerry provides the best chance to return our national psyche to some level of equilibrium. For all of these reasons, we urge every voter, regardless of party affiliation, to elect him as our next president.


Santa Fe Reporter

When it was founded in 1974, the Santa Fe Reporter's mission was to create lively competition for a stodgy and timid daily press. That tradition continues today. The Reporter investigates beneath the surface, presenting in-depth stories often overlooked or uninvestigated...
More »
Contact for Reprint Rights
  • Market Served: Metropolitan Area
  • Address: 132 E. Marcy St., Santa Fe, NM 87501
  • Phone: (505) 988-5541