Seeing that I woke up this morning to a Kerry volunteer knocking on my door(I didn't mind), and that it's the right time to do so, here's why I'm votingfor Kerry, in detail.
It's no secret that I'm not a big fan of Kerry. Partly, military experience isa slight minus for me in a candicate -- while I think it's possible toavoid it, I think the military does bad things to one's character, promotinga poorly based hierarchy of people, promoting violence, a certain kind ofnarrow-minded discipline, and an unfortunate conservativism. It pushesnationalism, and makes people think that they've done something that peopleshould respect them for, causing them to be extremely irritating to peoplelike me who are not at all nationalist. I know that this attitude is no doubtinfuriating to family and friends that were/are in the military, but they, sofar, have coped with my other opinions too. Kerry doesn't really stand forwho I want in office -- I want an intellectual, an academe, with passion andfirm positions. Ideally those positions would line up with my positions insome important ways. Kerry doesn't really represent me -- he's not sociallyliberal enough. The natural division of how a candicate works is domesticpolicy and foreign policy. Domestically, Kerry gets a C-plus for me -- hedoes a few things that I want, but there's a checklist of things that'simportant to me that he does nothing for. Ending the drug "war", eliminatingreligious integration with government, electoral reform (coalition governmentworks better), subsidising university education, providing free contraceptivesand other reproductive-management services, ending IP protections, fixingbusiness corruption, better environmental controls, these arethe domestic issues that I care about. However, on all of these, BushJr eitherstands for positions that are the same or a lot worse. More importantly, Isee stark differences in foreign policy between the two main candicates, andthat matters a lot to me.
Ordinarily, for Americans, foreign policy iscompletely dull. Americans tend not to pay attention to the rest of the world,and so foreign policy continues to happen, outside the realm of politics, exceptfor academes (liberals) and businessmen/theocrats/etc* (conservatives). Forbetter or for worse, this is the way things have been for quite some time. Inthis set of four years, we're seeing two things -- firstly, the results of allthe foreign policy that our government has been doing without much publicawareness, and secondly, a politician who messes things up so badly that,the history notwithstanding, he needs to be recalled. For the first point,I will not elaborate here -- the reader should educate themselves aboutAmerican involvement in the Islamic revolution, in funding terrorists in thefight against the Soviets, in Israeli history, in assassinations, militarytraining (see especially "School of the Americas"), funding of coups, etc.
On the second point, BushJr has seriously messed up almost everything he hastouched. There are three primary ways his failures can be classified. First, hehas failed to support the United Nations, in fact has undermined them at everyopportunity. The best tool the world has for peace, and a delicate instrumentbuilt over many years, has been eschewed, marginalized, and insulted by BushJr.More than just that, BushJr seems to be hostile to the very idea of cooperation,avoiding even courteous diplomacy with our strongest allies on the topic of hiswar. The initial sympathy from the rest of the world has swiftly turned toworry and hate as the United States has ripped alliances apart and becomedangerously and determinedly a loner. The second way he has failed is to actin bad faith. Remember Hans Blix? The United States made a call for nuclearinspectors in Iraq, promising war if weapons were found, and peace if Husseinadmitted their presence. None were found, and Blix suggested that there werenone. BushJr, who in retrospect was visibly just looking for a pretext for war,ignored the results and waged war anyhow, and now that no weapons have beenfound, the war is just an embarassment for those of us who have an attentionspan longer than a few weeks. Saddam told the truth, and BushJr lied. The othermilitary operations happening in the area were also initially conducted underthe goal of finding Bin Laden, but in recent times, as hopes of finding himhave grown slim, he has suggested that finding Bin Laden is completelyunimportant. Dishonesty in these areas is dishonesty of the worst kind. Somany lives lost to pointless or dishonest war. Finally, BushJr has committed usto futile and destructive action. A vague war on terror is the perfect excusefor indefinite military operations, as terror is a technique, not a movement.It is, moreso, a technique that any nation or force would use, including theUnited States. This war will never end, fought this way. It ignores the basecauses of anti-american sentiment (American foreign policy/meddling), andsmacks of political opportunism. The bloody results are visible -- theUnited States is now imprisoning people indefinitely, without any kind of legalpretext, using torture to extract information, while subjecting its citizensto deprivations of civil liberties. At the same time, corporations close toBushJr and friends' fortunes profit from "reconstruction" and the "opportunityto invest" in conquered lands. The threat of theocracy -- rule worse thanSaddam's secular autocracy, looms in Iraq, as Afghenistan begins a slide backto the dark ages from whence it came.
There are some areas where I'd like to see more action in foreign policy thatneither candicate is interested in. In particular, I'd like to see the Cubanembargo ended, and Taiwan recognized (delicate work, to be sure), but right nowI'd be happy to have someone who would do nothing on foreign policy, compared towhat BushJr has been doing.
So why not a third party? Because, although I like (some) third parties, andfeel that our democracy would be healthier with more of them (especially ifstructural changes were to take place that would make it work better), endingthe current disaster is more important. If it were Bob Dole running againstAl Gore, I'd be happy to vote for a third party, but here the differences aretoo stark between the two, and defeating BushJr is a priority. I would probablyvote for Nader or the Green Party if the stakes were lower.
That's why I'm voting for Kerry.
- There's an interesting term that is yet to be coined for people who are
On a side note, Yasser Arafat is ill, perhaps dying. He recently flew off toFrance to seek medical care. It'll be interesting to see how the PA is affected.Would a new leader better be able to lead to peace, or was Yasser actually apretty good leader, peacewise, comparitively speaking? I guess we may find outsoon. Sharon, surprisingly, appears to be making genuine steps towards peace,angering the Israeli right.