Kerry for a Democratic Future

There’s so much stuff going on—polls tumbling into the media one after the other, incidents of voter intimidation in many of the swing states, the Osama tape, another story about more missing explosives… It’s just impossible for me at the moment to keep up with everything.

It being the day before the election, however, I want to take the time to plug my guy one more time. To begin, I want to share the following story related by Charles Piece in Eric Alterman’s Altercation column on MSNBC:

Once, in Iowa, Kerry dropped in on a group of Vietnam veterans. Some of them liked him. Some of them didn't, largely because of the whole VVAW [Vietnam Veterans Against the War] thing. (And, trust me, this was my first beat at the Boston Phoenix, and I discovered that the politics within the various Vietnam veteran's groups were desperate and bloody.) Kerry dismissed the staff, locked the door, blew off the rest of the schedule, and sat there and talked and argued with these guys until they were all exhausted. He wanted to talk to the people who disliked him more than he wanted to talk to anyone else. He gave them the respect of open debate.

Imagine the incumbent doing that. Imagine him sitting down in a room where half the people truly loathe him and everything he stands for, him and his ticket-only rallies, and his coddling staff, and his use of the Secret Service as cheap sidewalk bouncers. Imagine him hearing them out, debating them, giving them the respect of his knowledgeable disagreement. It is inconceivable.
It is inconceivable because the insular and secretive nature of this administration is an anathema to democracy, and they aren’t, nor have they ever been, interested in democracy. They have instead shown an interest in winning, silencing opposition, rejecting both self-reflection and criticism, and retaining control at any cost, all at the expense of democracy.

Democracy isn’t just about the right to vote; it is about the right to free speech, to the airing of ideas and opinions, even—and especially—when they are outside the mainstream. Democracy is about the challenge of creating a whole out of many pieces, and John Kerry knows that giving your detractors a chance for their voices to be heard not only grants them their basic rights, but it is indeed the very responsibility of a democratically-elected leader.

I could go through the list of reasons which inform my belief that John Kerry is the better choice for President, but ultimately, the above story serves as metaphor for the entire lot. John Kerry is a man of thought and reason. He is a man who believes it wrong to surround oneself only with those who reinforce one’s own assumptions and beliefs. Instead, John Kerry embraces knowledge and experience—others’ in addition to his own. He refuses to let faith dictate policy. He allows himself to be challenged and indeed relishes any opportunity to expand his vision of the world.

Tomorrow we have a choice. We can choose a man who believes you are either with him or against him, or we can choose a man who believes that he is obliged to us all, that we are strongest when we are whole. Who do you want leading us into our collective future?

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