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EDITORIAL

Vote Kerry in Massachusetts Primary

A year ago, the prospect of President George W. Bush failing to win a second term in office seemed remote. With his approval ratings riding high and no standout Democrat ready to challenge him, the 2004 presidential election appeared little more than a formality.

Now, as November draws nearer and Bush’s flaws become increasingly exposed, the possibility of a much-needed change in leadership is finally a realistic one. But defeating Bush will not be an easy task for the Democrats, and it is unfortunate that from the primaries, an optimal choice has not arisen. Yet because of the importance of the 2004 election, it is imperative that they pick a nominee who has both the electability required to win in critical swing states and the experience needed to lead the nation out of its current rut. Given those criteria, Massachusetts Senator John F. Kerry proves to be the best choice.

Kerry’s remarkable wave of primary and caucus victories reflects his ability to win in all regions of the country. More importantly, he has outclassed his fellow candidates in states likely to tip the balance of this fall’s election, including Michigan, Tennessee, and Missouri. All of this should come as no surprise, since Kerry possesses qualities that endear him even to many right-leaning voters. Currently serving his fourth term in the Senate, Kerry has the national and international experience demanded in the Oval Office, something that cannot be said of the young and unseasoned John Edwards. Furthermore, Kerry’s impressive record of military service -- critical in a time when patriotism especially matters to voters -- and his poised and stately demeanor give him the edge over Bush and other Democrats in the issues of character that have long played an instrumental role in American presidential elections.

Electability, however, is far from Kerry’s sole advantage over his competitors. His plan for revitalizing the domestic economy is meticulous and well-reasoned. By repealing Bush’s massive tax cuts for the wealthy, eliminating rampant corporate loopholes, and exercising increased fiscal responsibility, he will free up the money needed to hold the national debt in check and alleviate the excessive burden placed on the states since Bush took office -- a burden that has resulted in state-level layoffs, tax hikes, and education cuts throughout the country.

And Kerry’s strengths extend even further. In particular, his commitment to health care, the environment, gun control, and civil rights reflects his social conscience. Regarding international issues, Kerry’s years on the Foreign Relations Committee have alerted him to the importance of maintaining strong formal and informal alliances abroad, and he will rebuild the goodwill that the Bush administration has squandered. Those who point out that he voted for the war in Iraq overlook the fact that so too did Edwards and, of course, Bush. As evidenced by his post-service stand against the Vietnam War and his apprehension about efforts in the Middle East, Kerry will think much more about the long term when debating war.

However, Kerry is far from the the ideal candidate Democrats want to run. His voting history on NAFTA does not equal the stance he takes today. He also supports amending the Massachusetts Constitution to ban gay marriage. These actions and Republican eagerness to highlight them may cost Kerry votes that he would have otherwise secured. Yet the primaries have shown that voters are willing to overlook his past in order to achieve a greater goal: removing Bush from office.

Though Kerry’s success to-date makes him the likely Democratic nominee, the 2000 presidential election provided a clear reminder that every vote matters. Be sure to exercise your fundamental right to vote in Tuesday’s Massachusetts primaries, and if you’re a Democrat or independent, make an intelligent choice for the future by selecting John Kerry.