Aspen Daily News


John Kerry: The right choice to lead America into the future

The Editors of the Aspen Daily News

Curt Schilling, the dominating Red Sox pitcher, was wrong when he publicly favored President Bush over Senator John Kerry. Schilling can pitch, but he needs to reverse his politics now that he has reversed the curse. Here's why:

When you vote, you're envisioning a country four years into the future.  With no change, you're envisioning four years of unrestrained spending at the bidding of proven special interests. You're envisioning an Iraq whose citizens are at greater risk than when the president plunged us into a war without studying the religious realities of a fractured state. You're envisioning an economy whose future will depend on an untested theory that expensive tax cuts alone will restore it.

And, not to forget, you're envisioning a Supreme Court whose respect for civil liberties, women's rights and equal justice could be imperiled by the appointment of justices doing the bidding of conservative religious groups.

George Bush had a mediocre record until the Sept. 11 attacks allowed him to present a show of force. But the war on terrorism is not a political issue; indeed, virtually all U.S. presidents, including Democrats, have found that wars increase their popularity as they feed nationalistic fervor.

We will not review here the evidence cited for our attack on Iraq. Historians will later decide the issue. But it has been clear that a war based on saber-rattling is far different from a well-planned mission with enough personnel to keep the peace.

We will also leave for history the question of whether the war has stoked the fire of anti-American sentiment, breeding new terrorists. But deep down inside, when we think forbidden thoughts before falling asleep, do we really feel safer now than we did before Sept. 11?

It's true that the economy was slowing down when George W. Bush took office. He has done little to reinvigorate it, preferring instead to let business interests, which underwrote his campaign, write his script. The favorite ruse is a tax cut, in which politicians promise that, if elected, they will break into our cookie jar, distribute the loot to their favorites, and let our children pay for it.

The Medicare prescription bill, touted as a care measure for seniors, turned out to be a proven multi-billion dollar gift to HMOs, hospitals and insurers instead. We don't know whom the president is trying to fool with his declaration that our health care system is envied by all. It's not. It's dreaded by those in the know as a broken system, vulnerable to medical mistakes, which ignores the catastrophic health care needs of more Americans than ever before.

Bush would sit and do little about it. Kerry would lower health care premiums by having the government cover catastrophic care costs in excess of $75,000. A Kerry presidency would cover 27 million more Americans than are covered today. He has correctly challenged the patently absurd special-interest claim that "safety" prevents the U.S. from allowing the importation of cheaper drugs, made by U.S. manufacturers, from overseas. "Safety" isn't the reason; pharmaceutical interests are.

John Kerry sees the world through a broader lens than the current president. He understands that the U.S. cannot afford to continue alienating allies in Europe by reprimanding other countries for breaking the same United Nations protocols that we ourselves refuse to follow.

He also understands that if a U.S. president wants to change the order of battle from containment to pre-emption, he must do so with at least the understanding and advice of others who have also suffered the casualties of war.

Domestically, the Republican Party is adrift. Traditionally a party of fiscal restraint, it has abandoned that plank now, forcing it also to leave aside its empty criticisms of Democrats as "tax-and-spend" liberals. Beyond the costs of national security, this party, in control of Congress, has shown little evidence of any fiscal restraint at all. Instead, a recent $5 billion Congressional bill to fix international trade law became a quiet $130 billion giveaway to special business interests by the time lobbyists smelled the blood in the water.

It was Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, a Republican, who convinced former President Bill Clinton to embrace a balanced budget. Fiscal restraint should be an issue of common sense, not political advantage.

Campaign charges and counter-charges about flip-flopping and military service are non-issues. They distract us from envisioning a future four years distant. Any candidate can be made to "flip-flop" with the use of strategically spliced film footage. Bush opposed "nation-building" four years ago. Kerry opposed the 1991 Gulf War but favored 2002 authorizations to use force in Iraq. It means little except that politicians, like the rest of us, change their minds.

Kerry served his country in Vietnam; Bush in the National Guard. There have been doubts about the records of both. Case closed.

There is little serious doubt that either candidate would do his best to protect American national security. We feel that Kerry's thought process is broader, with use of fewer scare tactics, than the incumbent's. We particularly fear that Bush's conservative attorney general John Ashcroft, would be quicker to discard civil liberties in the name of a false temporary sense of security.

There is little serious doubt which candidate would protect the environment and air quality particularly precious to those in the Rocky Mountain West. The only debate occurs when Bush allies urge a "balanced" approach. That's Greek for saying they would advance special interests with short-term profit potential ahead of environmental interests with legacy potential.

When you vote, think of yourself in a world four years more mature. If you do, you'll vote in John Kerry as president.

Copyright © 2004 Aspen Daily NewsReprinted by permission.  (Rick Carroll 01/06/05)