It's Not Over for Kerry Yet

by Janos Marton | 1/12/04 6:00am

What is the point of holding the first-in-the-nation primary if the media and rabid Deaniacs are telling us that the election is already over?

The media's relentless attacks on the John Kerry campaign as "flailing" or "failing" are very misleading. Such characterizations seem to contradict Kerry's fundraising, which has been second to Howard Dean all year -- eclipsed only for a single quarter by Wesley Clark. Kerry is also within striking distance in the early Iowa caucus and second in the New Hampshire primary, making him the only candidate besides Dean in the top three for both contests. His campaign is doing fine. I would rather the American public (and especially Dartmouth students) not dwell on polls; doing so in 2000 obscured George Bush's right-wing policies and helped him to win the White House.

Kerry has always been my candidate of choice because of the issues he supports and his leadership ability and experience -- two qualifications for the White House in which he is unmatched by any other candidate. While one of his greatest strengths is his foreign policy experience (war hero, negotiator in international environmental accords, 18 years on the foreign relations committee, author of a book on terrorism in 1997, important player in exposing the Iran-Contra affair), the aspect of Kerry's candidacy that gets little attention is his impressive progressive agenda at home.

As someone who cares deeply about the environment, I was drawn to the candidate called "An Environmental Hero" by the League of Conservation Voters, who helped found Earth Day and has attended every major international conference on global warming -- playing an active role in Kyoto. With profound political ability, he has found a way to hammer home the idea of renewable energy development as necessary for national security, and found a way to tie energy efficiency to patriotism. As he argued at a Dartmouth event last year, "No young American man or woman should ever have to be sent half-way around the world to fight because of our dependence on Middle Eastern oil."

If one cares about the environment, there's no question that the sponsor of numerous bills protecting wildlife and the leader of the successful fight against oil drilling in Alaska should be your man of choice. Howard Dean may be better on the environment than Bush, but it was Governor Dean and Governor Bush who collaborated in shipping Vermont's nuclear waste across the country to depositories outside of poor Latino communities in Texas.

With the Supreme Court only one retirement away from overturning Roe v. Wade, every person in this country who believes in a woman's right to choose should rally behind a candidate who has said he will make upholding Roe v. Wade a litmus test for screening potential nominees to the Supreme Court. Kerry's 100 percent lifetime rating from Planned Parenthood is all that really needs to be said about his stance on this issue.

It is fortunate for everyone who cares about civil rights that gay rights are moving into the spotlight during this campaign. During one of the Democratic debates, Kerry told an anecdote of an Arlington grave that reads, "I was given a medal for killing a man, and a dishonorable discharge for loving one." Kerry supports civil unions and voted against the twisted Defense of Marriage Act that would have banned gay marriage.

Kerry will also make healthcare a national priority. Many people with healthcare have paltry programs and can hardly afford to pay for them. By having the federal government cover catastrophes that cost more than $50,000, Kerry plans to make healthcare more affordable for all Americans. His plan to allow all citizens to buy into the same program given to congressmen will not only provide healthcare to 14 million people who don't have it, but improve it for many who do. Again, it is Kerry's political experience that has caused him to focus on improving health care for those who already have it, as opposed to simply helping people who don't. Congressmen will simply not vote for an expensive program unless it benefits their constituents.

Don't let the media or other campaigns fool you into thinking that Howard Dean is the progressive on domestic issues in this election, or that Kerry is a "Washington insider" who has acquiesced to the Bush administration. Dartmouth students have the intelligence to make up their minds for themselves when presented with real information about the candidates. I made my decision to support John Kerry a long time ago, and back then it wasn't because of fancy campaign promises or a good stump speech, but because of his record of fighting for the right issues and being a leader when it mattered.

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