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View Diary: Why I stay loyal to Kerry (186 comments)

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  •  Jury still out in my mind... (4.00)
    I have posted on this issue before and it seems that the further we get from election day, the more my angry feelings seem to fade.  I'm sure this is partly because it is a human trait that we let strong emotions fade over time, and partly, as someone mentioned upthread, that we all invested so much in this guy and we tied all that emotion, for better or worse to him, and in retrospect from a distance, I see that was wrong.  When he lost, all that anger and sadness should have been directed at that fuckwit neighbor with the B/C04 sticker on their car who we KNOW is the real enemy, but since we knew nothing we said to THEM was going to get through, we blamed Kerry for not finding SOME way, ANY way to win.

    Background: I was always a political lurker, paying attention but not directly involved.  Bush revealed in EVERY.SINGLE.ACTION that he was my own personal version of the anti-me.  I never thought there could be somebody on this earth who was so incredibly wrong that every word out of their mouth was exactly opposite of how I felt but there the coward stood.  I am former military, raised lower middle class in farm country midwest, pro-choice (anti-abortion in that I wish there wasn't the need for any), fiscally-responsible, anti-religious extremism, anti-drug laws, and much more.  I have never really seen a political candidate who really supported most if not all my views but since Bush was my anti-me, I was firmly ABB and got involved.  When Clark came on board I really looked into him and despite his faults, I believed he was a very good man and candidate and when the Clintons and some of the major party people got on his side, I figured he had a good shot.  I even donated money for the first time to a campaign for him but we all know how that ended up.

    Then, when Kerry became the clear front-runner, I really looked into him.  Read all 75 pages of his testimony before Congress that EVERYBODY on both sides seem to have not actually read or heard because nobody frames it right.  Looked into his voting record which had some hiccoughs but for the most part was in line with much of what I believed and showed an ability to think for himself and not just to be partisan or out for himself.  I don't think there was ever any doubt that he was always looking to a higher office but honestly, the best leaders are those who want to lead.  I know many people believe the opposite of this because they think it makes someone more "pure" if they aren't "too ambitious" but thats a bunch of crap.  You aren't going to get within a mile of the White House without being a career politician with a serious hunger that will get you through all the hurdles along the way.  Yes there is a bad attribute to this sort of ambition but what are you gonna do?  They all have it so we have to figure out who has that ambition but wants to do something good with it and who just wants the power to have the power.

    So I got on board with Kerry and make no apologies for that because I think he IS a good man, and has good instincts despite disagreeing with him on a few key issues and the fact that despite being articulate and well-reasoned, he can't seem to say what he wants to say without using 1000 words when he only has room for 80.  I have this same issue, obviously, which is why I wouldn't make a good president in todays day and age but he chose to run now so he needed to adapt to the reality and work this kink out.  But I digress...

    I worked it for Kerry...sometimes I question myself as to whether I did enough but we all know we did as much as we could.  Could Kerry have run his campaign better, yes I think so.  Did he run a bad campaign, no I think that would be unfair to say.  In the end, he did a decent job and won alot of people from the ABB crowd to the Kerry side when he won all three debates handily.  The problem was not in Kerry, the problem was in the inherent weakness of the party that obviously started back in the time when Newt was running things on the other side and we relied too heavily on Clinton (who I loved but was definitely middle of the road) to lead the other side of the debate.  We needed to start fighting back immediately against the crap that was building up momentum on the other side and get some more public figures out there leading the party in Congress rather than relying on the White House.  Notice how effective Bush is at avoiding direct criticism by having henchmen all the way from Cheney to our very own senators (turncoat li[eb]erman) speaking against our message.

    Anyway, Kerry has hurt himself in my eyes in several key ways:

    1. First and most importantly was conceding as he did.  I don't really care about all the reasons about what possible political considerations he was making.  We were all ready to fight to the death on this one, especially when we realized we didn't fight hard enough in 2000 but Kerry took the wind out of not only our sails, but the media's as well.  Despite the bias we know they have, they were all over this story because "it had legs" as they say, and they were prepared to attack like the pitbulls they are.  BUT when he conceded, no one had the same level of motivation to fight for it anymore.  I mean seriously, think of those people standing in line for 10 hours to vote for him.  How much hunger for change, how much hate for Bush's policies, how much fight in their hearts did it take to stand in line for 10 freakin' hours!!!!  They were determined to vote and they would have fought to make sure that vote meant something if ANYONE had led the way.  One image that will be seared into my memory forever will be the picture of Edwards face as he came out on election night and looked like he was both angry and about to cry out of frustration at the same time.  We obviously have no idea why he had those emotions and there could be any range of reasons but judging by what happened, my best guess is that he was angry and sad with Kerry for not being willing to fight and felt frustrated that he really needed to just accept that his standard bearer had given up.  With all that said, who knows whether Kerry's support and leadership on this cause would have changed anything as far as the outcome but what it would have done is spark a serious national debate about election irregularities and fraud. Maybe it would have caused social strife and even remotely a civil war of sorts but maybe thats what we needed.  Maybe this is such an important issue that people ARE willing to fight to the death to stand up for it and I think that is a great thing, not something to be feared.  The point is that I for one have no confidence that my vote really means shit in an election anymore, and if I feel this way but will likely reluctantly vote anyway because I am a politically active person, just think about that guy who stood in line for 10 hours and finds out that not only is it possible/probable that his vote was thrown away or defrauded, but that the guy who they voted for didn't stand up and fight to make sure it counted.  Does anyone really think that guy is going to vote again?  Kerry let us down on this one and that is a big Strike ONE...

    2. The second issue I have with him, also as someone already mentioned upthread is that he had a golden opportunity to redeem himself on his vote to authorise enabling Bush to start war without congress's approval when he was asked whether he would have voted the same had he "known what we know now, that there were no WMDs".  That was an unforgiveable mistake in my mind.  I mean, many of my righty acquaintances said they didn't really like Bush either but Kerry wasn't much different as far as they could see.  Yes I know they are way wrong on that but the point is, here was a golden opportunity to differentiate himself and he failed to do so.  I can't imagine that he really meant that statement based on his previous record so either 1) he was making a calculated political move that was wrong.wrong.wrong and hurt him way more than it ever could have helped or 2) he had altered his opinion of the value of war and value of our troops and that would be even worse.  I am 99% sure it was the first scenario which means he thought that he would look like a flip flopper for voting for the authorization and then changing his mind later.  But that was the whole point of the question, was to give him the opportunity to monday morning quarterback, and even with that opportunity, he dropped the ball.  Fumble. Touchdown other team. Game Over.  Strike two.... (awful mixed sports analogies - sorry)

    3. And the last main point where I feel Kerry has failed to represent me is by defending ANY of this bullshit to do with gay marriage.  Of course this is a polarizing issue, much as abortion is, but just like that same argument, it is one that has to be addressed and sides taken.  By being ambivalent at best or on the wrong side of gay/lesbian people, he missed another huge opportunity to differentiate himself from the party of fear and hate.  Not to mention losing the opportunity to gather votes from the Andrew Sullivans of the world and yes, despite what you may think, there are quite a few gay/lesbian conservatives.  But these people would have gladly voted for Kerry if he had said "I respect all people as being equal and having the right to dignity in the relationships they wish to have.  Marriage in and of itself is a religious characterization and should be left to the churches.  I want to make it clear that I support the civil union of both heterosexual and homosexual couples in the sense of how it pertains to legal issues.  If these people have had a loving and meaningful relationship with each other, then they are entitled to the exact same rights when it comes to recognition at hospitals and as next of kin and all other legal aspects.  As it pertains to the rule of law, I don't believe the states or the federal government should treat people any differently and I will fight every day to make those who disagree see that it is just another form of discrimination and that is not what the "Land of the Free" is supposed to stand for.  So what is this debate about?  The word marriage?  How many people are NOT married in a church but say they are married?  Does it hurt us that these people say they are married?  No of course it doesn't and it wouldn't hurt us if they were a gay/lesbian couple either.  So very clearly I want to say that I believe in full and equal rights as relates to the civil unions of both heterosexual and homosexual couples and that the word marriage is a term better left for the churches to deal with."  Kerry was from a very safe state to stand by this and he would have engendered some support even in some people who disagree with him because he would have been making a clear stand for what he believes in.  I know this also doesn't juve with his Catholic background but on some things, you have to realize the church is simply wrong, as he did with his stance on Choice. Strike three...

    So now that I have gone on wayyyyy too long, I will try to add a counterpoint quickly.  I am very impressed by the actions and stands Kerry has taken since 11/3/04 and I am open-minded enough to believe that maybe he can earn another "at-bat" with me someday in the future.  But for now, the jury is still out...

    "But we have to stay angry and keep objecting. It's like staying awake in the freezing cold. If we sleep, we're dead." - Mary Julia (dKos poster)

    by I Want My American Pride Back on Fri Feb 04, 2005 at 03:49:20 PM PST

    •  pressure cooker (none)
      I appreciate this long and thoughtful post.  A couple of things to consider:

      on your point 2.,the answer to the "if you knew then..."etc. question.  Remember, he said this just once, in answer to a question from a reporter.  Did you see his Meet the Press interview last week?  Russert asked him if he thought we would have been safer from terrorists with Saddam still in power---something like that.  He gave a somewhat goofy answer.  Why?  I think it's because he didn't hear the question correctly.  He "heard" the standard question he got hundreds of times during the campaign: do you think Saddam was a threat, or, do you think it would be better if he was still in power.  

      I'm amazed these guys can hold it together as well as they do with the relentless demands of a campaign, but I think occasionally Kerry didn't hear the difference in what sounded like a standard question.  That's what I think happened with the WMD question.  By the time the debates came around, he was much clearer on the whole subject.

      On point 1, Kerry's advisors were telling him that there weren't enough votes at issue in a recount in Ohio to change the outcome.  The problems you cite, the long lines, etc., are matters for litigation, and don't fall under election law.  So he conceded that Bush was re-elected, according to the votes cast.  That didn't and doesn't mean the election can't be investigated.  While he stopped short of voting against counting the Ohio electors, he issued several strong statements supporting those calling for investigation and changes.  His lawyers were in Ohio, and helped out when and where they could on challenges.  So while I may not agree with his strategy, I respect it.

      on point 3, we all have our issues that we consider crucial.  I think of global heating as a moral issue, and I was disappointed it wasn't central to this campaign. But Kerry talked about it, and I knew that if he got elected, he would do something about it, and at that point I could become an advocate who might be heard. The politics of the gay marriage issue is complex, but clearly the advocates of various positions based on civil and human rights would get heard, as is not the case with Bush.    

      As I said in an earlier post, I'll start thinking about a candidate for 08 in a few years. But in terms of 05 and 06, I'm behind Kerry in his leadership efforts.    
             

      •  Further on my points... (none)
        I admire the effort you took in responding to each of my points but I have to respectfully disagree.

        First off, everybody and their brother knew that one of the central, key issues in this election would be the Iraq war.  We all knew it was beginning to take a turn for the worse and Kerry, being the truly seasoned politician he is, KNEW he was going to be asked these sorts of questions.  He should have been prepared at every opportunity to defend the fact that he voted one way based on the lies and exaggerations he was told, and then once he was made aware that it was, in fact, bogus material, he realized that the war was wrong.  Now I think you may have taken what I said wrong, or more likely I just wasn't clear enough, but I wasn't just picking on the one answer to the one question.  What I meant was that whole topic in general... I'm sure, as you pointed out, that people asked him similar questions time and again on the campaign trail and even during the debates, where I think he rocked Bushit's world, he was given a couple opportunities to clear this up definitively but he hemmed and hawed and totally lost the perfect chance.  He really needed to step up and make a clear, concise point about "what we thought then" and "what we know now".  My best guess is that he, or more appropriately his campaign people, were afraid that if he changed his position on the entry into the war that he would be able to be painted as a liberal even worse and that he didn't support the troops and was costing lives, just as they claimed he did after Nam.  He could have easily addressed this though in a single line response after clearing up the vote issue.  "However, since we have undertaken this endeavour, and all credit goes to our great troops for ridding the world of a man we all will agree had no place as the leader of a great country, it is our duty, and one I take very seriously, to stay the course and finish the job of ensuring Iraqis are left with a functioning, secure country, and I pledge to every single American troop that I will honor your sacrifice by standing with you until the day we can proudly bring you home."  Yes I know its a long single statement but in speech form it would work.  He could have repeated that line a thousand times and every time he said it the applause would get louder and more and more people would have loved him.  He had the instincts to know what was right but just didn't take the steps to do it.

        As to the election itself, I don't really fault Kerry for not voting for the electoral review because by the time it reached there, after he deflated the enthusiasm months before, it was a dead issue without some very serious, blatant evidence coming forth.  I think it is very likely that at some point, Kerry may have been forced to concede to settle the country down a bit but despite what his advisors were telling him, it didn't matter really whether he had lost or not, what mattered was that, without any doubt in anyone's mind, there was some very wierd stuff going on with these computers (I work in computers so this doesn't surprise me) and there were certainly issues with disenfranchisement.  He seriously needed to stand up on 11/3 and say "As the numbers show now, this is a very close election and although it appears that the President has attained a slight margin, there are many questions that need to be answered before I can certify this election and offer a concession, if one is called for.  I ask for every American's support, no matter where you are from, or whether you are a Republican, Democrat, or Independent, in ensuring that the most important freedom and responsibility, your vote, is counted, for every single one of you.  If it is fairly discovered, that the current numbers are accurate, I will gladly offer my concession to the President, and help to move this nation forward in any way I can.  But it is our duty to make sure that every vote, from EVERY american, is counted and that any irregularities are uncovered for the sake of our nation and for your confidence in your next President."  He has been in the senate for 20 years and could easily have handled any criticisms that came from people saying he was a sore loser, not to mention how many of us would have been screaming our support for our LEADER fighting for us at the most critical juncture in the history of the US.  I know that sounds like hyperbole but seriously, these are very important times right now as this country is being flushed down a toilet and we simply have almost no power to stop it.

        As for the gay/lesbian issue, it really isn't a pet point for me but I think it was obvious to everyone that it was going to be a major factor in the election.  Whether you believe the election turned out to be all about morals as they have said or not it is important for us to remember that there were all kind of activities happening around this subject at the time and although Bush wasn't touching the issue with a ten foot pole, it WAS getting talked about from the pulpit of thousands of churches around the US and Kerry needed to take an obvious stand.  If he had taken the stand I outlined, which I believe is in line with his personal views, he would have turned it into a non-issue by giving the churchgoers their sacred "marriage" word but expressing clearly that anyone who thought gays and lesbians shouldn't be afforded the same protections under the law of civil union was a discriminating bigot.  Obviously he would need to couch it more diplomatically than that but the man was a successful prosecutor so I'm sure he was up to the job...

        I seriously think these three points are what cost him the election and the support of many who really put it on the line for him.  As I said, he IS off to a good start so far, post-election but we'll see how the next few years go and then check back with him to see if he has redeemed himself...at least that's my opinion and my plan...

        "But we have to stay angry and keep objecting. It's like staying awake in the freezing cold. If we sleep, we're dead." - Mary Julia (dKos poster)

        by I Want My American Pride Back on Sat Feb 05, 2005 at 03:45:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

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