On John KerryWhat a lot of people don't realize is that I would love to vote for John Kerry. I'm not a masochist. I'm not a hopeless romantic. I don't like beating my head against a brick wall. I despise most of what Bush has done, most of what he stands for and I'm sad about what he's done to this country. And I'm even sadder that he might get elected with a popular plurality this time because it'll mean we deserve him.
I hate what Bush has done to this country and I know Kerry is the best chance to beat Bush. But I simply can't justify voting for a guy who supported the three worst things Bush did. The three worst public policy decisions of the last quarter century. Notably the Iraq invasion, the Patriot Act and the doctrine of pre-emption (ie: old-fashioned naked aggression). I can't vote for a guy who implicitly endorses the anti-democratic lawyering campaign against Nader trying to get on the ballot; a campaign which is just as odious as what the Republicans tried to pull in Florida (of course, Dems didn't have the high ground in that farce either).
I'd love to vote for a Democrat because I remember what the Democrats used to be and what they could be once again. But I can't. The Democrats will never change so long as their progressive wing allows themselves to be effectively neutered by the ABB argument or the lesser of two evils garbage. A neutering which is already well underway as demonstrated by the fact that most Democrats are ENRAGED by the three things I mention above but are voting for a candidate who supports those. By refusing to exercise the only leverage they have, withholding their vote from non-progressive candidates, progressive Democrats are allowing themselves to be held hostage by the corporatist wing of the party. It's not what Bush, Darth Vader Cheney or the evil Republicans are doing to them. It's what they are doing to themselves.
The real problem I have with John Kerry is this nagging doubt. Actually, it's a near certainty. John Kerry is a very smart individual. He's not a cowboy. He's not a gunslinger. He's not a guy who does reckless things first and asks questions later (if at all) simply to be seen as a [hold hand over heart] man of action.
Therefore, I can't help but think that Kerry knew in his heart that the Iraq war was a bad idea long before it ever got underway. I can't help but thinking that if the issue had been put before Congress in 2001, Kerry might've voted against the Iraq war blank check. I can't help but thinking that if John Kerry weren't running for president, he'd have voted against it.
So not only was he wrong, but he should've known better. Not only should he have known better, but I can't help but believing he DID know better and went against his conscience anyway. I think he went against his conscience because back then, opposing the war was not the politically or patriotically correct thing to do. The brief neo-McCarthyistic period following 9/11 made it so no so-called respectable politician could disagree with military action proposed by the president. To do so would give aid and comfort to the terrorists. .
And that's fundamentally what gets me about Kerry. It's not just that he was wrong to vote for Iraq, but that I'm confident he knew he was wrong at the time. Robert McNamara anyone?
Bill Clinton's presidency taught me one important thing about elected officials. Character DOES matter. Political courage DOES matter. It's not just WHAT you believe on particular issues, but how hard you're willing to fight for them. Bill Clinton may have said all the right things about tolerance blah blah blah. But what he DID was to sign the farcical Don't Ask Don't Tell decree and the ludicrous Defense of Marriage Act. Those were his ACTIONS. When push came to shove, he caved to the political correctness of the day.
When push came to shove on Iraq, John Kerry caved too.
What use is it that he, as chief EXECUTIVE, believes in the right things if he refuses to fight for them. And that was the fundamental problem with Democrats during 2002-2003: they may have believed the right things in their hearts but they, with a few honorable exceptions, refused to stand up to the extremist Republican agenda when it mattered.
Is the radical agenda going to disappear if Kerry wins? Of course not. It's likely the Republicans will still have a majority in both houses of Congress. If Kerry won't stand up to them when it counts, as he's already proven capable, then why should I waste my vote on him?