Tuesday, November 02, 2004Why I Am Voting For Kerry
It is not enough to hate the other guy - we should always be voting for something. A lot of Republicans believe that Democrats are motivated simply by Bush hatred, and they are not entirely wrong. Even my own family members think that Kerry is just a vehicle for my anti-Bush sentiment. I am afraid I must disappoint them, because I am voting for Kerry not only because he is not Bush, but because he is Kerry.
John Kerry is among the most qualified candidates ever to seek the Presidency. He has thirty years of experience in public life in every level of government: as a soldier, activist, prosecutor, lieutenant governor, and Senator. This gives him an insight into the political and policy process that few can match. He has also put himself in the right (or should I say left) on almost every issue facing the country: the environment, women's rights, choice, terror, foreign policy, health care - you get the idea. I am particularly impressed with his long-standing involvement in anti-terrorism funding and his record as a budget hawk.
There are also the intangibles. I am awed by John Kerry's service in and after Vietnam. To oppose a war but volunteer anyway out of a sense of responsibility, to return from that war with the courage to campaign against it, to dare the White House and public opinion in order to represent the voiceless: that is character of the first order. Kerry has also demonstrated tremendous personal judgment and flexibility, willing to change his fixed beliefs in light of new evidence, willing to see what is there rather than what he wishes to see.
What I admire and identify with most about Kerry is his sense of duty. This is a man with the advantages to coast through life who has always done the hard thing. He has done the right thing rather than the easy thing. There is a nobility in the self-made man, but there is also a nobility in the privileged dedicating their lives to the service of the public good. Our greatest champions have been of both types: Lincoln, Truman, and Clinton rose from nothing, while TR, FDR, and Kennedy fought for those who did not have what they had. I believe Kerry stands in the proud tradition of the latter.
Back in 2003 I was for Kerry because he had the best qualifications and seemed the best candidate against Bush. A year later I watched him speak in Queens and experienced a transformation. He was not boring, or stiff, or indecisive. He was sober and commanding and I was ready to follow him. What I saw was not a man with an eye for the main chance. What I saw was a President.
So I am going to trudge out at 6AM this morning to go vote for a man because of who he is, because he is worthy of that vote. I am proud to do so.
Basically, I just think he's pretty cool.