Wednesday, October 27, 2004


My first political memory is watching the Fall of Saigon on the nightly news when I was four years old. I don’t recall having an opinion about it but I remember the old television set and the images very clearly. I wonder now whether my daughter Anabella, who turns four on November 8, will have similar memories. She was born in the wee hours of 11/8/00 while the news stations were still trying to decide who they thought won the Bush-Gore election. The first political opinions I remember having were from the Reagan years when, generally speaking, I felt pro-Reagan. I remember thinking it was cool that Reagan bombed Libya though I didn’t have any particular understanding of the reasons behind it. I was fourteen year old. A year later I was standing at a booth at school about to sign up for the Young Republicans club. A friend of mine named Ryan asked me why I was a Republican. I can’t remember what I told him but I remember his response – which was to ask me a long series of questions about my beliefs on a variety of issues. We had quite a lengthy discussion and I answered all his questions. After which he responded, "You’re a Democrat" and explained convinvingly why this was so. That conversation saved me a hell of a lot of time.

It is a truism of Republican punditry that the older you get the more conservative you become, and that every hardworking citizen who achieves a certain degree of personal and economic success eventually becomes a Republican. The opposite has been true for me. I am a more committed liberal now than I ever have been in my life. But I also hold to a belief which I think is essentially non-partisan: that the job of a voter in a democracy is to educate oneself on the issues and to envision how each candidate would create public policy. What policies do the candidates support? What is the likelihood of them successfully implementing those policies through interactions with government agencies, Congress and the Supreme Court? And finally, weighing the outcomes you are imagining for each candidate, which are better?

Your job is not to decide who you want to have a beer with (for the record, I’d rather have a beer with Kerry any day). Your job – your DUTY as citizens, if I may be so bold – is to decide which candidate is more likely to help create the sort of world you want to live in. For instance, if you make more than $200,000 dollars a year and you want to live in a world of violence and political chaos, increased Islamic and Christian fundamentalism, widening economic disparity, criminalized abortion and catastrophic Health Care and Social Security crises, where the value of your real estate and stock portfolio goes down BUT your income tax rate stays the same or perhaps even decreases slightly over the next, say, eight years – then I implore you to fulfill your duty as a citizen and vote for George W. Bush. His presidency and world have so devolved over the last four years that this is the only scenario I can think of where a vote for Bush makes sense.

I wish I were joking. But this is an instance where shrill political rhetoric actually reflects the reality of what’s at stake in this election. I know some of you are Republicans who have grown up loathing democrats and liberalism generally, which you equate with socialism and/or hedonism. I know a few of you are in fact socialists who loathe the Democrats’ compromises with capitalist rugged individualism. I know some of you are jaded and apathetic because the political noise machine makes every candidate seem like a liar and a crook. And many of you are Democrats eternally disappointed by the candidates we run for office. I have one message for all of you.

I BEG you all to soul-search in the most honest possible way. The choice you make –– whether to vote or not to vote and for whom –– has REAL CONSEQUENCES. The moment is dire and cries out for a vote of national sanity, the putting aside of petty self-interest and unquestioned partisan habits to insure that we DO NOT GO DOWN A ROAD FROM WHICH WE AS A NATION WILL NOT BE ABLE TO RETURN.

John Kerry is a decent and sensible man. There are many many things I could say in admiration of his life and his political positions. But for the sake of clarity I will say only these: he believes in the principles of democracy; he listens to advice; he thinks things through; he is courageous under fire. I’m asking you from the bottom of my heart to vote for him on November 2nd and to feel no bashfulness about asking everyone you know, everyone you pass in the street, to do the same. You, the voter, are the nation’s only hope.


Post a Comment

<< Home