November 2, 2004

In praise of Kerry and the Democrats

I am so fortunate to get a chance to talk to you about this election and present my thoughts on what is always an intensely personal and collectively powerful decision. It is a right that we Americans are entitled to by law, but one that others all around the world still fight and die for. It is a right that allows us to make a decision that will have ramifications far beyond our comprehension. This vote—your vote—is a remarkable act and the fact that you are simply exercising it is a comfort.

I have neither the experience nor the eloquence to tell you why you should and must vote for John Kerry. I am a weak spokesman for a cause that so many of us feel so strongly about. A better spokesman would be a single mother who has to work two jobs while taking care of her kids because she can't make ends meet. A better spokesman would be a senior citizen who would tell you that he can't afford to get sick because if he did, he could not afford the prescription drugs to stay alive. A better spokesman would be a teacher in the inner city who teaches in a classroom that has more students than chairs and who cannot teach because she is too busy trying to shield her students from the violence and the drugs that devour her community.

And out of all of these stories—out of all these people crying out for change—one voice would be heard. A voice that demands that government give every American an equal opportunity. A voice that yearns for a government that is once again for the people and not the powerful. I cannot hope to match that eloquence, but I can tell you why I am voting against George Bush and for John Kerry, and I can tell you, unequivocally, that this election is ultimately a choice between compassion and competence on the one hand and ruthlessness and recklessness on the other.

I have no qualms with seeing my vote as a vote against George W. Bush. I am proud to vote against an administration that is more interested in annihilating its partisan opponents than annihilating the problems that beset education, health care, and social security. I am proud to vote against a man who surrounds himself with ideologues who have ruthlessly forced an agenda down our throats that is not in the country's best interests. I am proud to vote against a president who recklessly began a war without a plan to win the peace and a president who prefers to employ his corporate cronies in Iraq over his fellow citizens in the United States. I have no problem with my vote being a vote against someone. But in this election, my vote is also for someone and for something.

I am proud to vote for John Kerry because he will defend the United States, not just with strength but also with leadership and competence. Senator Kerry, unlike the current president, does not care whether it is a Democratic or a Republican solution, he only cares that it is a solution that actually works. That kind of competence in governance has been noticeably absent for the past four years and I cannot wait for it to return.

More important still is the compassion that John Kerry and the Democrats will bring to the White House. This sense of obligation and empathy for all Americans should be the foundation for all of our public policy. Yet the current administration has started from a craven and unstable foundation, based in a desire for political gain. John Kerry's election would be a return to sound policy that comes from a desire to help all Americans, not just his own political prospects.

Throughout the last century, the American people chose the Democratic Party to represent them in the most troubled days of the republic: the Great Depression, both world wars, and the Civil Rights Movement. Let us hope that in this new century—for this new generation of Americans—we will continue to turn to the party that has served us so well in the past.