Charleston Gazette: wvgazette.com
Tuesday, October 19, 2004
JOHN KERRY MATURE LEADERSHIP NEEDED
MUCH is at stake for America in this election. Both at home and
abroad, there is a sense of crisis few Americans could have imagined
four years ago. We believe that dangerous times require leadership that
is calm, intelligent, measured and mature. We believe John Kerry is the
best candidate to provide that leadership.
Sept. 11, 2001, dealt this nation a terrible blow. It severely damaged
everyone's sense of security as terrorists penetrated U.S. borders and
murdered thousands. In the weeks that followed, the international
community extended its sympathy and expressed solidarity; America was
Sadly, that is no longer the case. This country is now embroiled in an
ugly urban guerrilla war in a country that did not have a hand in the
9/11 tragedy. The mastermind behind the massacre is still at large.
Precipitous action in Iraq, without the cooperation of most traditional
U.S. allies, has alienated the United States from the world and
dissipated international goodwill. American soldiers are dying at an
unacceptable rate and there is no end in sight.
John Kerry is the son of a diplomat and a student of diplomacy. He
experienced war and its horrors as a young man and understands the
excruciating price a country pays when it sends its children into
harm's way. We believe he would have the resolve to use force if
necessary to defend America, but would reserve it only for situations
where every other avenue had been explored. We continue to believe that
Saddam Hussein, although he was a truly evil dictator, posed no
immediate threat to the United States; that the weapons inspections
were doing their job; and that Saddam's impotent wish to revive his
programs was not a sufficient reason to send Americans to die and to
abandon the efforts of the United Nations.
We believe John Kerry will have the credibility with the international
community to mend traditional alliances and work with them to make
sense of the havoc in Iraq. We also believe he has the intellectual
resilience to listen to a wide range of opinion on foreign policy and
not to exclude the dissenting voices that need to be heard.
On the home front, life has gotten a good deal harder for ordinary
Americans. Jobs have disappeared, and many of the new ones created in
the past four years are minimum-wage, no-benefit, service jobs.
Personal bankruptcies are at record levels. Almost every necessary
expense, from utilities to health care to college tuition, has risen
dramatically. Many families find it impossible to save. Meanwhile, a
huge budget surplus has been transformed in four short years into a
deficit of unprecedented size.
A burgeoning recession early in the decade is no excuse. The timing
could not have been worse for a huge tax giveaway to the wealthy.
Kerry understands that the American middle class cannot grow and thrive
when many families cannot afford basic health care or college education
for their children. He understands that investing in these areas is a
far more important priority than cutting taxes for people with incomes
We believe that the health-care crisis is by far the most pressing
domestic issue. The enormous cost of health insurance is killing both
businesses and ordinary citizens. John Kerry recognizes this and has a
plan to lower costs and make health insurance accessible to 95 percent
of Americans. In the final days of the campaign the administration has
attempted to scare voters by claiming that it is a "government-run"
plan (it is not), that it will lead to rationing, and that countries
with universal health care do not have the same high level of medical
care Americans enjoy.
Sadly, the opposite is true. One globally accepted standard for a
country's health is its infant mortality rate. The United States is not
even in the top 40 countries with the lowest infant mortality rates.
This means that in 40 other nations (led by the ones with universal
health care) a child has a better chance of surviving to the age of one
year than in the United States. Swedish children have almost twice the
chance of survival as their American counterparts.
The other measure of health for a nation is life expectancy. Here the
United States fares even worse, at 48th place, surpassed by countries
like Jordan, Cyprus and Cuba.
Even so, this country spends more on health care than any other nation.
In short, Americans pay more and receive less. To call our health-care
system the envy of the world is to insult the intelligence of the
electorate. Kerry understands how shameful it is that the world's
richest nation cannot meet such a basic need for all its citizens.
This election takes place as a number of justices on the Supreme Court
near retirement. The current administration's hostility toward women's
rights and civil liberties in general gives little confidence that it
would choose justice nominees inclined to protect those rights.
The current administration seems to have a domestic policy based on one
underfunded education initiative, a rollback of crucial federal
regulation and a transfer of wealth from the middle class to those with
the highest incomes. It bolsters this program with irrelevant scare
tactics designed to convince Americans that a Kerry administration
would ban the Bible, promote gay weddings and deprive people of their
We think Kerry's vision, both internationally and at home, is the more
mature one. More important, we believe he is the candidate most likely
to restore unity to a fiercely divided nation.
permission. (Susanna Rodell
July 26, 2005)