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COLUMN

Let Kerry Stand for Himself

Chen Zhao

Republicans love George W. Bush. Not many people can figure out what his true supporters see in him, but those who support him really embrace him as a candidate, a person, and a representative of their party. I wish I could say the same for John Kerry. Unfortunately, the Democrats have run an “Anybody But Bush” campaign for the past four years.

Bush is evil, so vote for the other guy. Not Ralph Nader, mind you, because a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush. Nothing matters but beating Bush. Nader’s supporters cling so closely to their ideology that they are willing to risk a stoning by Bush-haters should Nader again cost the Democrats the White House. Do Democrats feel the same way about Kerry? Sadly, most Democrats do not even care what Kerry’s ideological positions are as long as he does not share Bush’s.

I sincerely hope that I’m not the only one who thinks that this situation is pathetic. I hate Bush as much as the next person. I may have even considered wasting money on books like The Bush-Haters Handbook by Jack Huberman or The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception by David Corn, which basically give laundry lists of all the sins that Bush has committed (which all Bush-haters know already) with lots of angry rhetoric to make them worth the cash.

To all the people who have decided on Kerry as their choice for president, why? Contrary to what all the Bush-haters disguised at Kerry-supporters out there are preaching, I don’t think the standard “Because he’s not Bush” answer is good enough. John Kerry is an admirable candidate in his own right and deserves praise for his abilities, his record, and his convictions. He may not have a magnetic personality that draws people to him like Clinton does, but Kerry deserves to be respected for being something other than the guy who won’t do what Bush did. Even The New York Times, in its recent endorsement of the Kerry/Edwards ticket, spent the vast majority of the editorial detailing everything that Bush has done wrong. Only at the very end did the editorial board briefly remember to address why it approves of Kerry. Is it even possible to say positive things about Kerry independent of comparisons to Bush? Has anybody ever even tried?

John Kerry has spent his entire life serving this country, from the time he spent fighting to Vietnam, to his stint as a prosecutor, to his time as lieutenant governor, to his twenty years in the Senate. Whatever you may think about his medals from the war, or the morals or lack thereof of lawyers, you have to admire him for spending his life as a public servant.

Kerry has shown himself to be extremely intelligent and knowledgeable about issues in both domestic and foreign policy. Intelligence is not something to be taken for granted in a president. Neither is it something to be dismissed because the president should resemble the common man. While the president should understand the issues and problems facing the common man, the president should not resemble the common man in ability. Broad knowledge is requisite because a president who doesn’t even know the basic facts cannot possible come to sensible decisions. Kerry has also shown that he is not the boring intellectual who drones on forever by giving succinct, but articulate and thoughtful responses in the debates where he was limited to two minutes.

A presidential candidate should always have a plan, not just nebulous promises, and Kerry does. He has a plan to address to the health care crisis. He has a plan to fix Social Security. He has a plan to deal with nuclear proliferation. You can read about these on the Kerry website and I won’t list them here. In areas such as civil rights, the separation of church and state, the environment, and stem cell research, Kerry has demonstrated clear, consistent positions. There is no reason to believe that he will not continue to act according to his beliefs once he is president.

There seems to be an automatic, natural tendency among many Democrats this year to add that they don’t like Kerry immediately after saying that they will vote for him. Everyone wants to make sure that others know that they are voting against Bush, not for Kerry as if it would be crazy to like Kerry. I’m sure that Kerry will be more than glad to accept their votes against Bush. However, these people should pause in their rabid hatred of Bush for just one second and take a close look at Kerry’s proposed plans and record. Perhaps, they’ll see that he’s more than just the alternative. It’s okay and possible to actually support him.