We choose Kerry

Looking at ideology, method and character, the Democratic candidate is the right choice.

On Tuesday, the United States electorate will perform its most important function: choosing the next “leader of the free world.” Given each candidate’s ideology, methods and character, it’s crystal clear Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry is the person to lead going forward.

President George W. Bush’s overall method is simple: unwavering determination that his vision is right, correct and proper. He prefers information summarized by others, as he relies on common sense and intuition anyway. While leaders can get caught so deep in the proverbial trees that they miss the forest, today’s world is too complex for trusting one’s gut.

Furthermore,while most world leaders prepare for power most of their lives, Bush showed little interest in public policy or service until his successful Texas gubernatorial bid in 1994. For someone who is a late-starter, Bush is frighteningly self-confident about his abilities. After economic, foreign policy and homeland security failings during his first term, it strains reason to determine what reality his continued arrogance stems from.

Kerry prides himself on looking at piles of information and processing it until he reaches a decision. He has more than 20 years of public service under his belt, including experience on Senate foreign relations and other Senate committees. While Bush at best failed to distinguish himself in the Texas Air National Guard, Kerry served his country well in the Vietnam War.

On the economy, foreign policy and domestic security, Kerry’s proposals and record show well-informed decision-making and a return to what we should have been doing all along.

Bush’s economic plan is more of the same economic vision, which is if the rich get uber-rich, they’ll hopefully share. Kerry would repeal Bush’s tax cuts for those earning more than $200,000. He also supports reviewing trade agreements to seek better local labor and environmental standards, making the inevitable outsourcing of U.S. jobs a more gradual experience the workforce can adapt to. Finally, Kerry supports raising the minimum wage to $7 over three years and tying future increases to inflation. Systematic adjustment of the minimum wage should have been done decades ago. All of these are far more favorable to most individuals than Bush’s trickle-down ideas.

With the occupation of Iraq becoming ever more problematic, it is essential we rehabilitate our relationships with other nations. To be clear, world politics is not a popularity contest, and the fact that France, Germany and others are upset with the United States is neither here nor there – unless we need their help, which we do. Kerry will not be able to repair the damage Bush has done to these alliances and others in his first 100 days, but in four years, he can make substantial headway. Either way, we have to start somewhere.To keep us secure and free, we must review the 9-11 Commission’s findings, which Bush has been reluctant to put any political capital behind, as well as the USA Patriot Act. Bush lauds the Patriot Act, while Kerry would review and adapt it to comply with our experiences since the fall of 2001. Strangely, part of Bush’s ongoing security strategy is the costly ballistic missile shield, despite current threats tend not to use ballistic missiles. Kerry opposes the shield.

On health care, education and the environment, Kerry far surpasses Bush. To Bush, the prescription drug bill was a job well done; to Kerry, it was barely a start. To Bush, the No Child Left Behind Act absolves his conscience to worry about other things; to Kerry, it is at best an unfunded mandate. Bush’s energy solution is tapping the oil beneath the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which wouldn’t likely last until 2020, Kerry would seek alternative sources to provide 20 percent of our energy by 2020.

Bush’s ideas on same-sex unions and capital punishment are morally troubling. All human beings have a fundamental right for their government to recognize their lifetime commitments. Bush supports the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment. Kerry supports civil unions for all and was among the minority of compassionate legislators who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. Some criminals prove themselves to deserve life in prison, but the government should get out of the murder business. Bush supports the death penalty; Kerry does not.

Finally, the Bush administration fails on basic democratic ideals. The administration is the most secretive the country has ever seen. Various officials have often asserted dissent is treasonous. The administration has also argued it has the constitutional authority to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely without trial.

Contrary to what this approach implicitly asserts, there are limits on executive power and an open and informed discussion of public policy is central to democracy. Combining Bush’s actions with his rhetoric, which constantly trumpets his mission to spread “freedom,” leaves us with an version of freedom that is little more than an Orwellian euphemism. As such, we need a new leader to reclaim liberty and justice for all.