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America needs a change

Kamaria Porter | Tuesday, October 26, 2004

We stand on the eve of what will undoubtedly be the most influential election in our history. How we vote will not only shape this country, but also how the world imagines America. The democratic ideals on which our nation stood so proudly have been compromised within the last four years. President George W. Bush and his administration of sorted corporate interests have misled both in the sense of being treacherous and dangerous for the American people. To stay on a path headed to ruin is folly. There are compelling, even staggering reasons to vote for change in the White House.

Today, we live in a world of harsh inequities of wealth, political influence, health care, education and safety. The income gap has become a daunting chasm of injustice. Not only are people separated by income, but also the hearts of the rich find no kinship with the poor. Content to compile unneeded wealth, the owning class selfishly turns hardship into profit by reducing worker’s wages and benefits. This “race to the bottom” makes basic survival on full-time work for minimum wage impossible for families. A job is more than a paycheck; it is our dignity, our livelihood and our gift to ourselves in old age and our posterity. We need to value our citizens through instituting a living wage and ceasing impediments to collective bargaining for adequate and needed labor rights.

All citizens must have equal access to the political process. The silencing of minority voices at the polls and in other facets of society endangers the fabric of our democracy. As Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere;” we must embody that sentiment and treat the disenfranchisement of any citizens as a threat to our own civil liberties. We cannot impose democratic systems on other nations while our own political system is riddled with racism, sexism and class conflict.

For too long, quality education in America has been situated as a privilege of the rich and well-off, while urban schools struggle with outdated books, badly-kept school buildings, budget cuts and under paid teaching staff. The No Child Left Behind Act, under-funded and undermined by the Bush tax cuts, has done nothing to turn this tide of injustice. We need an actual commitment through adequate funding of this measure and further steps to minimize the education gap in America.

In regards to foreign policy and U.S. leadership in the world, much has been made about Bush’s resolute and unwavering conviction to a single plan of action. Indeed, the Bush administration does not change its stances too often, but this is definitely not a positive attribute. As Noam Chomsky describes, Bush follows a strict line of policy decisions building U.S.-world hegemony within a “lunatic doctrinal framework as it threatens survival.” The war in Iraq, which is entering Vietnam-like territory with regards to domestic and international opinion and difficulty in reaching a peaceful end with current leadership, has increased American insecurity and threat of terror. It does not deter terrorists from procuring weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, when the United States attacks a largely defenseless nation – Iraq – under falsified and skewed reasoning while it deals with nations like North Korea and Iran diplomatically, knowing they have extensive weapons capabilities. It seems the Bush administration’s incoherent message will encourage anti-American entities to arm themselves to prevent a U.S. attack on weakness.

Additionally, our integrity in the world has greatly deteriorated since the beginning of the Bush reign. His decisions to reject international initiatives regarding biological and chemical weapons, the greenhouse effect and the reserving of outer space for peaceful purposes reflects harmful unilateralism and disregard for other countries. Our power on the world stage requires U.S. participation in any global agreement. While we may be able to ensure our survival of biological weapon attack, by turning our back on international coalitions and agreements to deter such aggression leaves our allies and defenseless countries open for attack. Further, this disregard also alienates our ability to compile intelligence crucial to preventing another Sept. 11 like an attack on the United States or one on our remaining allies.

America needs a change, and that change must begin on Nov. 2. We must not resign ourselves to inaction or support of the status quo out of fear. Instead, we must carry the banner for peace and justice, which we are – when in solidarity – able to bring to this nation and this world. Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards are not the absolute answer to all these problems, yet their vision for America faces a vastly direction which will – along with our participation – bring the change we need to see in America. For that, they have my vote and commitment to action for a better America.

Kamaria Porter is a junior history major. Her column appears every other Wednesday. She can be contacted at kporter@nd.edu.

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