Sunday, July 11, 2004

tsias: The Wild Eyed Liberal

Contrary to popular belief, there are more than two men running for President this November. In fact, dozens of individuals will be on state ballots across the country on November 2. Of course, only two men- John Forbes Kerry of Massachusetts and George Walker Bush of Texas- have a realistic chance of winning. As a registered Democrat who opposes the presidency of Mr. Bush, I intend to cast my ballot in favor of the challenger, Sen. Kerry. The state of Florida will likely be very close this time around. Kerry’s selection of North Carolina Senator John Edwards only reinforces the fact that Kerry will contest Florida heavily over the upcoming months. Perhaps twenty states, including Florida, can be categorized as “swing states”; both parties have a realistic chance of taking their electoral votes. I encourage voters in these swing states to do everything in their power to oppose Bush. This means casting their ballot for the presumptive Democratic nominee, John Kerry.

However, these “minor” third parties should not be ignored. Although many scoff at the lesser-known parties, they are serving a pivotal role in our Democracy. The currently duopoly has a negative effect on our political process. The two party system ensures that many important issues are not discussed. Even some right-leaning parties occasionally have good ideas. It is unlikely that any prominent Democrats or Republicans would take a public stand against the fraudulent “drug war”. Libertarians, often categorized as right leaning, are tireless in their support of ending this 25 yearlong national nightmare. Archconservatives, such as Pat Buchanan, have been vocal critics of trade agreements that our nation has entered into. Members of both political ideologies have been critical of NAFTA and the WTO, which have served to further enslave members of the global community. Furthermore, we need a more inclusive debate that highlights legitimate differences on major issues. Although Vice Presidential candidate John Edwards opposed NAFTA, the Democratic platform will likely reflect the ideals of the free trading John Kerry. If these ideas are so much in the minority of mainstream public opinion, why is the duopoly scared of giving them a voice in the debate?

The Green Party is quickly becoming a political force to be reckoned with. As a brief preface, I would like to declare that I oppose the Independent candidacy of consumer advocate Ralph Nader. Mr. Nader has been a tireless crusader on behalf of ordinary Americans. All of us owe him a great debt of gratitude. Unfortunately, Nader has decided that there is no difference between Senator Kerry and Mr. Bush. This lie, which he perpetrated in 2000 against President Gore, has been refuted time and again. While the two major parties are in many ways alike, it is fraudulent to suggest Kerry, or Gore in 2000, would not have been better than Bush. This election cycle, conservatives have teamed with Nader in support of his bid. Ben Stein, hardly a fan of progressives, donated $500 to the campaign. The Reform Party, who has run Ross Perot and Pat Buchanan in the past decade, gave their endorsement to Nader. This allows Nader automatic ballot access in a number of crucial states. Nader has not refused the help of these conservatives, even when it is clear that their motives are sinister. Nader continually claims that his campaign hurts Bush more than it does Kerry. This is a blatant untruth. More Nader voters would have voted for Gore than for Bush in 2000. Finally, I do not wish to sound bitter at Nader. In fact, I regularly defend Nader against Democratic critics who blame him for President Gore’s “loss”. The Democrats have this idea that all liberal votes automatically belong to them. This ignores the fact that Gore was unable to capture that 3 % who voted for Ralph. I simply wish Nader would show better judgment this time around. I would be very pleased if the Independent candidate dropped out before the November election. This country needs every vote possible to be cast for Senator Kerry.

The Green Party is a viable option for those living in safe Democratic or Republican states. Nominee David Cobb has promised to campaign only in these safe states. The Green Party had its biggest triumph in Alaska in 2000, where the candidate received 10 % of the vote. Considering Gore only received around 35 %, the Green presence had nil effect on the outcome. Around 30 states are likely to go uncontested in the 2004 elections. Republicans will not spend very little in states like Massachusetts, California, New York, and much of the Northeast. Democrats will cede much of the South and Midwest to the “incumbent”. Cobb will spend most of his resources in these areas. I applaud Cobb for his basic understanding that change is incremental. No rational observer believes the Mr. Cobb will be inaugurated come January 20. Although I have endorsed Kerry’s Presidential run, I support most of the Green platform. Unlike most Democrats, I support the withdrawal of troops from Iraq within a reasonable time frame. More than half of Senate Democrats supported the Iraq War Resolution, giving Bush a blank check to unilaterally invade the sovereign nation of Iraq. Kerry and Edwards still refuse to express remorse for the thousand American troops that have been killed since the war began last March. “Staying the course” has become the latest catchphrase for Democrats, scared of being called soft on defense. All but one Senate Democrat (Russ Feingold excluded) voted for John “Let the Mighty Eagle Soar” Ashcroft’s USA PATRIOT Act. In Fahrenheit 9/11, Rep. John Conyers of Michigan admitted that Representatives rarely read the bills that are signed. Democrats have proved to be a colossal disappointment since September 11. The Green Party opposes the Iraq War and the PATRIOT Act. The Green Party would not be necessary if the Democrats returned to supporting the ideals of progressivism. The assault on civil liberties is hardly supportive by conservatives either. Instead of triangulating against liberal interests, the Democratic Party should support issues that are important to most Americans.

The system of American government must be fixed. “Anybody But Bush” is an effective strategy in the short-term, but it is only a temporary fix for the Democrats’ ails. The corrupt system, where lobbyists and corporate interests have excessive power, must be amended. Gov. Howard Dean did a lot of positive things in his run for the Presidency. He showed that a candidate can be successful relying on the grassroots. Though Beltway Democrats and the DLC thwarted Dean’s quest for the Democratic nomination, you can bet that he put the fear of God into them. We have seen Kerry co-opt much of Dean’s grassroots strategy. Americans are starting to realize that they do not control our Democracy. It is only a matter of time that the public realizes both parties are culpable in this charade. Progressives will bolt and hurt Kerry in 2008 if nothing is done.

My official endorsement in 2004 is that George Bush must be defeated. There is not a single positive thing that Mr. Bush has done since taking office in 2000. A President Kerry will certainly be better on the environment and reproductive rights for women. There are a myriad of other issues where Kerry is significantly better than almost any Republican. Unfortunately, the Democrats refuse to take a stand on the major issue of today- the occupation of Iraq. Voters must do everything in their power to keep Bush from receiving a second term. I believe that the best way to achieve this mission is to support the Democrat. In the large number of safe states, I am ambivalent about their selection. Personally, I would vote for Kerry in each and every state. Symbolically, it is beneficial for the President to earn a majority and not simply a plurality of popular votes. However, I cannot chastise those who choose to support a Cobb or Nader. Kerry has certainly done a lot to alienate the left. I trust that the American public, and more specifically progressives and moderates, will make the best possible choice on Election Day 2004.


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