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What John Kerry will do for America

Katie Boyle | Monday, September 6, 2004

Politics is a rather contentious topic at my house these days. My father has long espoused the view that Bill Clinton is the devil incarnate and that John Kerry and John Edwards are only days away from picking up pitchforks and branding the country with their own version of red-hot liberalism. In contrast, I spent my summer in Washington D.C. working for the Democratic National Committee.

This decision caused not only raised eyebrows, but a few epithets as well. Even my 77-year-old grandmother told me before I left, “Honey, it’s never too late to change your mind. You could still vote for George Bush when you walk into that ballot box.”

Although not everyone in my family is Republican, as you can imagine, going against this grain has made for an interesting time. While at home, I find myself defending my views against an intelligent and well-informed debater, and while in D.C. I could always hear the ever-critical voice of my dad pointing out the various flaws in the liberal party line.

In response to Republican criticism, it is relatively easy to deride President Bush’s policies during his term. And indeed, his political record will be an important factor this November. Rather than simply pointing out the flaws in Bush’s record, however, it is vital that Kerry also provide voters with his own blueprint for the future of the United States. In addition, Kerry supporters, while retaining their right to criticize the President, need to focus on what John Kerry will do for America rather than on what George Bush has not.

The problem is not that such information is unavailable. One may look on either www.johnkerry.com or www.georgewbush.com to find a watered-down-for-the-general-public version of each candidate’s proposals. Unfortunately, in an election many tout as the most important of our lifetime, it appears that our next president will be chosen by the 10 percent or less who still remain undecided. Most of these will select either Kerry or Bush in the month or even the week before the election.

While exceptions clearly exist, it is also more likely that these voters will not carefully research their choices. They will make up their minds based on 30 second commercials sandwiched between shampoo ads and praises for McDonald’s newest Value Meal. Many of these campaign spots will present skewed statistics which appear to condemn the opposing candidate.

To take advantage of the statistical dead heat in which our incumbent president finds himself, Kerry advocates need to counteract the current apathy of this section of the electorate. A virtual grassroots publicity blitz, backed by a thorough understanding of the tenets of Kerry’s campaign plan, is vital.

With the unprecedented polarization of the nation, it is only too easy to engage in vitriolic attacks on either candidate. It is a shame, however, to reduce this election to such black and white statements. Neither man has an unsullied record and neither platform is ideal. One candidate, however, clearly demonstrates the direction in which our country needs to be led.

The Kerry-Edwards campaign slogan claims their team will make America “stronger at home [and] respected around the world.” This approach is a plan for our nation. Look at George W. Bush’s platform as well. The Bush-Cheney ticket’s slogan is “Heart and soul. Moving America forward.” This phrase exemplifies the exclusively internal focus championed, rather arrogantly, by the current administration. It is, of course, imperative that our future president have the well-being of our nation as his top priority. In my opinion, however, the only way to provide and plan for the strength and security of the United States lies in being cognizant of the larger world that surrounds us. John Kerry’s vision includes that world. He recognizes the need for a firm yet respectful and collaborative attitude within foreign relations. He will be an advocate for our safety and security. He will help boost economic growth. He will promote education and the environment.

John Kerry and his platform are controversial. One would be hard pressed to find a worthwhile politician who is not. America deserves the courage of Kerry’s convictions and his platform’s agenda over the next four years. John Kerry is not flawless. But neither is he the lesser of two evils as a sole focus on attacking Bush implies. At this point in time, the best way to support him is to explain why John Kerry instead of why not George Bush.

I don’t believe there is a perfect choice for America in the upcoming election. I do, however, strongly believe there is a clear choice and that our next president should be John Kerry.

Katie Boyle is a senior English, political science and Spanish major. She supports John Kerry. She can be contacted at kboyle2@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.