The Republican National Committee came prepared that July day when John Kerry announced John Edwards as his running mate. Only minutes after the announcement, talking points from the RNC and Bush-Cheney ’04 spewed forth on cable news channels from Republican spinners. Topping the bullet points from the right was the absurd declaration that the Kerry-Edwards ticket was the “most liberal in history.” If Sens. Kerry and Edwards are the first and fourth most liberal senators, as Republican surrogates strenuously claim, then liberalism is dead. This would sadden no one more than this raging liberal.
In a recent conversation, a friend of mine in grad school at GW suggested the last true liberal was Lyndon Johnson. Let us consider some people currently sitting in Congress typically labeled liberals.
Sen. Hillary Clinton: She is as Third Way as the man who invented the notion – her husband. Further, her unwavering hawkishness on the Iraq war put her in league with many conservative Republicans and Sen. Joseph Lieberman – my former boss and not a usual suspect to be coined a liberal.
Sen. Barbara Boxer: Her liberal credentials were tarnished when she condemned the decision to hand out gay marriage licenses in San Francisco, saying the current state law “is fair and appropriate because it gives equal rights and responsibilities to all citizens,” a laughable assertion she somehow uttered with a straight face.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader: In a November 2002 piece, Slate columnist Chris Suellentrop observed she is not any more liberal than most of her Democratic colleagues in the House. Pelosi-lovers often point to her 100 percent rating by the liberal organization Americans for Democratic Action to verify her membership in the far-left club. What they fail to mention is that Rep. Dick Gephardt, her immediate predecessor in the leadership post, was rated virtually as liberal as Pelosi by ADA, with 95 percent, Suellentrop notes. I would feel safe betting most Pelosi Democrats would not feel comfortable equating their girl with Gephardt.
Former Gov. Howard Dean: Sorry Deaniacs, even your man is no liberal. He made a political calculation and took a jog leftward during the more liberal Democratic primary season. One would be na?ve to take his admirable and commendable outspokenness against this White House for actual liberalism while glossing over his moderate stance on most social and economic issues.
Kerry and Edwards are moderate Democrats in the mold of their aforementioned colleagues. As a liberal and someone of conscience, I look forward to casting a vote for the Kerry-Edwards ticket this fall when faced with the alternative: four more years of ultra-conservative religious fanaticism. Give me lukewarm liberalism any day.
I know my views are further left than the majority of Americans. Therefore, I do not expect to see the names of Sen. Ted Kennedy, Reps. Henry Waxman or Robert Wexler, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom or N.Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer at the top of the national ticket anytime soon. As refreshing as it would be to see bona fide progressives given national prominence, moderates such as Kerry and Edwards are unarguably more electable. In the end, ABB – Anybody But Bush – is the one and only goal for progressive thinkers in this election.
While my views may be out of the mainstream, Kerry’s views are not. John Kerry stands for a woman’s right to choose, which polling from the last three decades has shown the vast majority of the country supports. Kerry voted to give the president the authority to broker an international solution to disarm Saddam Hussein of WMD, militarily if necessary – the position held by 70 percent of Americans on the eve of the Iraq war. He upset many in his party for his Clintonian approach to limiting deficit spending, as opposed to Bush’s record of racking up the largest deficit in U.S. history. Kerry has been a leader on environmental issues, particularly leading the fight to keep Alaska safe from oil drilling. He has called for the renewal of the assault weapons ban, due to expire this fall. Finally, he voted against the confirmation of John Ashcroft for attorney general, a vote only the most out-of-touch person could possibly say was incorrect.
John Kerry and John Edwards are not more to the left and out of sync with the normal American voter. I am.
-The writer is a junior majoring in political science.