Monday, October 11, 2004

Kerry = Bush?

Every now and then I hear the argument that Kerry and Bush are so similar, nothing will change if Kerry wins so there's no harm in voting for Nader or some other third party. I didn't think it was true in 2000 when people said it and I certainly know it's not true now. So I thought I'd put down on "paper" exactly just how different these guys are:

Kerry is pro-choice. It is likely that the next president will appoint at least 1, maybe 2 or even 3 justices to the Supreme Court and, as it stands now, Roe v Wade has a slim 5-4 majority. Kerry will protect a woman's right to choose and will never nominate an anti-choice justice to any court. Bush has signed the first piece of legislation that would erode a woman's right to choose, the partial birth abortion ban, if it weren't ruled unconstitutional by every court that has reviewed it. John Kerry would have vetoed that legislation as Bill Clinton did, and I believe will repeal it if elected.

Bush has also shifted millions of federal dollars around the world from sex education programs to abstinence-only programs. Not only does this impact the global AIDS epidemic, but it reflects the extent to which Bush governs on social issues with the Christian right in mind first and foremost. This is reflected also in his ban of federal funding for the creation of new stem cell lines for research, which John Kerry has called on Bush to reverse and will reverse if elected, as well as his support for a federal amendment to the constitution of the US to codify marriage as between a man and a woman. While John Kerry does not support same sex "marriage", he does support civil unions but thinks it should be up to the states to decide on their own policies.

Bush's tax cuts have proven that his primary economic concern is for the richest Americans, while John Kerry would like to strengthen the middle class. Just as under Reagan, more people have fallen under the poverty line and the gap between the haves and the have nots has grown even wider under Bush. Now it makes sense that Bush would help the rich because that's who votes Republican and that Kerry would fight for the middle class, because that's generally who votes Democratic. But why then was John Edwards talking about the moral imperative of addressing poverty in this country during the primaries? Are the poor some untapped voting constituency he was trying to appeal to? Were the people in poverty watching the debate on their new Sony flat screen? No, of course not. For Kerry and Edwards, this issue transcends vote getting. The fact is that Bush with his tax cuts and his deficit spending has starved the treasury of funds for things such as pre- and after- school programs that rich people don't use so they don't care that they're not there anymore. Many people do care.

John Kerry is of course partly to blame for the muddying of his Iraq War position, but the fact remains that what he said at the time he gave authority to Bush to threaten force to disarm Iraq is exactly what he is saying now: that the authority he gave Bush was to allow him to get the inspectors back in to find out if he had weapons and to disarm him as well as to hold him accountable to the UN resolutions that were passed. On the floor of the Seante, Kerry demanded that Bush go in as a last resort and with a large coalition, as Bush promised to do. It may seem like parsing of words, but it's true that Kerry laid out at the time what the right way to go about holding Saddam Hussein accountable would be and George Bush did not follow it. The war as George Bush has waged it is not the way John Kerry would have and, in fact, if Kerry were president, he wouldn't have waged it at all. He would have focused on al Qaeda exclusively, the ones who actually attacked us. As we know now, Saddam was a diminishing threat. Did he flout UN resolutions? Yes, but so have many nations. Did he have the potential to reconstitute weapons systems? Yes, but so do many countries. This Iraq War was a result of Bush's being taken in post-9/11 by neocons, who, by the definition of being neo-"conservative", never would have been in John Kerry's cabinet let alone his political orbit. I believe Kerry when he says that he will send troops into war only as a last resort, something Bush did not do.


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