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John Kerry: The Singular Qualities and Experience to be President
January 19, 2004
By PeteNYC

Editor's Note: To mark the beginning of the primary season, the editors of Democratic Underground solicited articles from our members in support of the eight Democratic presidential primary candidates. Publication of these articles does not imply endorsement of any candidate by the editors of Democratic Underground.

Itís easy to be swept up in the Ďhorse raceí aspects of the Democratic primaries, and itís even easier to develop an attachment to one candidate that prevents a fair assessment of the others. Mass-consumption media narratives over-simplify the issues, and voters have a hard time deciphering the meat from the memes. Too, the mediaís constant harping on the twists and turns of the candidatesí positions on Iraq has blurred the fact that weíre choosing someone to carry all our highest ideals to face George W. Bush.

This election is about everything we stand for, from national security to domestic security to the economy to health care to civil liberties to womenís rights to the environment. Itís about two competing views of American life. And more, itís about America itself, and how we define it and what we want it to be.

I see value in each of the Democratic candidates, but I volunteered for John Kerry because I believe he has the singular qualities and experience to harmonize tomorrowís America with the time-tested principles that have always defined it. Choosing a candidate isnít a scientific process, but considering whatís at stake, itís imperative that we take a hard look at the facts. We wonít have a second chance to get this right, and we have to judge the totality of the individual, not the buzzwords, the polls, and the easy-to-digest storylines written by inside-the-Beltway analysts.

The backdrop for this election season is Americaís deeply polarized socio-political environment. The chasm between left and right, between progressives and conservatives, between moderates and extremists, gets wider and uglier by the day, and the natural dialectic that anchors a healthy democracy has been replaced with barbed soundbites and push-button catch phrases. The deterioration of our national discourse poses an insidious danger: the signal hallmark of American life is the right to speak up and speak freely, and freedom of expression withers in an atmosphere of name-calling and intolerance.

Not to say that America is a stranger to vigorous - and often rancorous - political debate. From the impassioned arguments between Federalists and Anti-Federalists that helped forge our Constitution to the infamous 1856 caning of Charles Sumner in the old Senate chamber, we're a diverse and opinionated bunch. But it's not an exaggeration to say that we're coming apart at the ideological seams.

Thatís the problem, and Iím more interested in electing someone who can address this dismal state of affairs than I am in assigning blame. As a one-time resident of Beirut, Lebanon, I witnessed internecine strife first-hand and Iíve internalized the dictum that making peace is always more difficult than making war. Building a bridge is harder than destroying one. Some of the more entrenched voices on the right and left might disagree, but unification and conciliation are worthy goals. The preamble to our Constitution makes an eloquent case for unity:

"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity...Ē The fact that we are straying from the high-minded dictates of our binding document should trouble any sensible American, but the cacophony of voices echoing across the great political divide, and the media obsession with process over substance, prohibits a sensible and thorough debate of the crucial issues facing us. Taking sides and parroting the pundits has become a substitute for reasoned debate and common sense solutions. George W. Bush is a touchstone for this growing polarization, and our shared responsibility is to nominate a presidential candidate who can reverse the divisive Ėand destructive - course our nation has taken.

John Kerry is a sincere and principled man, but knowing that is not enough to make a decision in an election this pivotal. There are a number of character traits that any Dem candidate must display in order to best represent the core values of the party, rewrite the language of division that splits American from American, establish civility in our political discourse, and provide a sense of comfort and security to an angry and frightened nation: Dedication, Insight, Leadership, Strength, Flexibility, Knowledge, Experience, Bravery, Wisdom and Balance.

On all counts, John Kerry shines. And he combines all the above attributes with an unassailable three-decade record of standing for core Democratic principles. John Kerry will make an outstanding Democratic nominee and an exceptional president.

For more information about John Kerry, please visit

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