John Kerry for PresidentThe beginning of the 2004 Presidential Primary season is still 5 months away, but I believe that it isn't too soon to endorse a candidate. The current Democratic field (which may still grow to include General Wesley Clark) is a rich one, with a number of interesting and deserving candidates.
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, M.D., has become the clear leader out of the gate. Dean is very definitely a man with the all the qualifications to be President, especially in comparison to the low standard set by the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Dean has been the most successful of all the candidates so far in tapping into the frustration of anti-war and activist Democrats. Contrary to most political pundits, I believe that Dean can beat George Bush, and that the probable political and cultural climate of Fall 2004 will support a Dean-like candidacy. Yet, I believe that there is a superior candidate in this field, a candidate who has not yet fully hit his stride, but one who I believe will do just that over the next 18 months, and very likely be the man to send George Bush back to Crawford. That candidate's name is John Kerry.
We are at war. My guess is that we are likely to be at war for quite a while, with our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq extending well into the middle of this decade. Furthermore, the war against al Queda, the war we must not lose, will not be easily or quickly concluded. Hence, the primary requirement for the next President of the United States is that they be a man or woman who can command the confidence of a still reeling, post-9/11 America. I believe that John Kerry perfectly fits that bill. As a decorated Vietnam Veteran who served nobly, and then came home to tell everyone who would listen why he believed that his nation was on the wrong path, Kerry demonstrated perhaps the greatest insight that any leader in the modern world need know – the realization that some wars must be won with bullets, some wars with words, and some wars through understanding those errors of perspective and judgment that might have led it to put its precious youth in harm's way for no good purpose. In comparison to the naive jingoism and reckless idealism we witness on a daily basis from the neo-conservatives who dominate the Bush Administration, and Dubya himself, whose knowledge of patriotism, sacrifice and suffering was accumulated in books, films and wood-paneled situation rooms, John Kerry's superior education as a soldier, leader and anti-war activist place him on an entirely higher plane. With regard to understanding matters of patriotism, duty, courage and sacrifice, like his fellow Vietnam Veterans John McCain, Chuck Hegel and Max Cleland, he has already earned our respect and admiration.
John Kerry is eminently electable. As an authentic American hero, with a fiery intellect and a well-deserved reputation for his work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry represents the perfect antidote to the kind of nasty smear tactics that were used against Democratic candidates throughout the recent mid-term elections. Karl Rove cannot smear John Kerry, he cannot question his character or his intellect or his patriotism. In almost every way imaginable, in comparison to Dubya and Dick Cheney, John Kerry has proven himself time-and-again the more courageous, the more intellectually interesting, and last-but-not-least, the better man. I believe that John Kerry's character and story, properly told, can and will reverse the exodus of white American males to the Republican side of the ledger. I believe that Kerry can win several southern states in November of 2004. I believe that the conventional logic that only the economic issues are winning issues for Democrats is wrong, and that the best way to neutralize Bush is to take him on where is truly most vulnerable, and least competent – in his role as Commander in Chief. John Kerry is the ideal person to lead that assault.
The 2004 Presidential election is likely to be the political equivalent of a tong war, bitterly fought by an incumbent President armed with the largest campaign chest in American history, and an undeserved sense of entitlement unlike any we have witnessed in recent years. This election calls for a maximum effort by Democrats, Progressives and anyone who truly cares about the future of this planet. Putting aside the economic and civil liberty issues, a 2nd Bush term would give the neo-conservatives that surround the President the kind of mandate that would encourage an even more aggressive distortion of long-standing American foreign policy. Put in words that even Dubya would understand, to restore the good reputation of our nation, to guarantee the continued safety of our citizens, the protection of our civil liberties, and the future of all the people on this planet who look to us for hope and inspiration, we must draw a line in the sand beyond which these neo-conservatives cannot pass. We must take back our nation.
Dubya's election in 2000 demonstrated one important, sometimes overlooked, aspect of our American spirit. Let it be said that from the day that the Supreme Court rejected Vice-President Gore's request for a recount, to the twilight of our Republic, that we did demonstrate that absolutely anyone born of this country can rise to hold the highest office in the land. But having proved that this is indeed a land of opportunity, let us also demonstrate that we understand that concrete manifestations of courage, intelligence, insight and vision are the real test of leadership, and that we Americans know better than to confuse empty rhetoric and gestures and bravado with time-tested character. In this time of great peril for our American democracy, for the values our founding fathers fought to establish, and perhaps for the future of the planet itself, I can think of no better person to lead this country in 2005 than John Forbes Kerry.
Matthew Carnicelli © 2003. All rights reserved.
Originally published August 22, 2003.