This year’s election comes at a critical juncture in American history. On par with the historically significant elections of 1860 and 1932, this year’s race is set to determine not only how the United States confronts its present-day challenges, but also its position to do so in the future. After four years of a president whose policies have led America down a tragic course, the country needs a substantive change of leadership. The best man to affect this change is Senator John F. Kerry from Massachusetts.
President Bush’s contentious election victory bitterly divided the United States on partisan grounds. The events of Sept. 11, 2001 gave President Bush the ability to use newfound national unity to erase bitter infighting and guide a policy to protect our homeland. Instead, Bush betrayed this unity by governing the country through a narrow ideological prism. The result is a presidency that is both a failure in substance and in style.
Bush’s messianic foreign policy has led to the deterioration of America’s standing abroad and the worst gaffe since the Vietnam War. This page recognizes the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein ruling in Baghdad. This fact, however, should not absolve Bush and his administration’s nearly incompetent handling of the entire war in Iraq. Bush offered a faulty rationale for the invasion, dismissed critical allies during and after the war effort and badly mismanaged reconstruction. John Kerry can do better.
Inheriting a strong economy, President Bush’s reckless fiscal policy has resulted in the first net loss in American jobs since the Great Depression. It has resulted in the exodus of jobs abroad without eliminating tax cuts inducing such moves. It has lined the pockets of millionaires and created a debt for which generations from now will be paying. Bush’s right-wing social policy further divides America. Taking out-of-touch positions on issues such as gay marriage, abortion and stem cell research diverts needed time and energy from a failed domestic program.
These issues are indicative of Bush’s closed-minded leadership style. The policymaking process is successful when a variety of advisors with differing opinions present alternatives to a president. President Bush surrounds himself with advisors content with saying yes to whatever he says. This is no way to lead the most powerful country in the world.
John Kerry is not a candidate without flaws of his own. Seemingly changing his position on critical issues has resulted in him being branded indecisive. His legislative record in the Senate is not spectacular. He does not exude charisma. What he does offer, however, is a compelling vision of how America can be much better than it is under President Bush.
Kerry himself admitted he should have been unequivocal on Iraq at different points of the campaign. This however, should not diminish how critical it is to govern with nuance. As president, Kerry would not change his opinions under duress, but rather do so in response to facts as they occur. President Bush, conversely, refuses to acknowledge his vision to be incorrect even in response to irrefutable evidence. Not recognizing mistakes and correcting them increases the likelihood of situations deteriorating further.
Kerry understands the war on terror should not be confined to an abstract concept. He understands it should comprise a comprehensive defense of the homeland, an assault on the terrorist ideology and a plan to rid the U.S. of dependence on foreign oil in addition to the assumed full-scale offensive on the terrorists themselves. He also understands that having sufficient military personnel is crucial in this endeavor. Unlike President Bush, who has exploited the National Guard as an active duty fighting force, Kerry supports expanding active duty troops by two divisions and hence ensuring American forces are not over-stretched.
In foreign affairs, Kerry understands that American power is its strongest when the world is behind us. No country should have a veto over American self-defense, but ensuring nations are treated with respect during American decision-making will remove the worldwide perception of U.S. arrogance – no doubt a detriment to American national security. Kerry will work with allies to bring them back into the fold, rather than continuing to treat them with contempt.
On domestic policy, Kerry subscribes to President Kennedy’s assertion that “a rising tide lifts all boats.” Kerry will repeal tax cuts for the rich in an effort to address societal issues such as the long-term health of Social Security and providing affordable healthcare for all Americans. His respect for the environment is profound; he will restore environmental regulations systematically destroyed under the Bush administration.
The arguments in favor of Kerry will never be as compelling as opposing Bush. Given another four years of the status quo, the path Bush will take is predictable. Kerry, however, has the opportunity at worst to be marginally better than Bush, and at best drastically better. It is imperative he be given that chance by the American electorate.