Although President Bush’s approval ratings have reached an all-time low, John Kerry has gained little, according to a CBS/New York Times poll released in late June. Outrage over Bush’s Iraq policy and the faltering economy is growing, but Kerry (like Bush) still gets more negative ratings than positive. Instead of offering real solutions to their problems, a majority think Kerry says whatever pollsters suggest will win him the election. The only thing the man has going for him is that he doesn’t happen to be George Bush. That doesn’t quite cut it for us. Here are Justice‘s top 10 reasons why John Kerry doesn’t deserve your vote.
1) John Kerry represents corporations and the rich, not the working majority.
Like Bill Clinton, Kerry may claim to feel your pain, but he’s not the typical American. A multimillionaire and former member of Skull and Bones – the elite Yale secret society whose membership included George Bush I and II – Kerry is the richest U.S. Senator, quite a mean feat considering the Senate is essentially a millionaires’ club. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Kerry has received more money from corporations and their lobbyists than any other Senator. Guess whose interests he’ll stand up for once he’s elected?
2) John Kerry fully supports Bush’s brutal war in Iraq.
Kerry voted to authorize the war in Iraq, which so far has claimed the lives of 865 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis. If elected, Kerry has pledged to send more troops to their deaths to protect U.S. oil interests. He backed the war in Afghanistan and endorsed Israel’s assassinations of Palestinian militants and their families.
3) John Kerry supports other American imperial projects, too.
Rand Beers, a top Kerry adviser and former member of the Bush Sr., Jr., and Clinton National Security Councils, helped craft Plan Colombia, the brutal taxpayer-funded war on Andean peasants to prop up a regime friendly to U.S. oil interests. Kerry voted for and continues to support this criminal policy. He goes out of his way to criticize Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s democratically elected populist president, openly siding with the wealthy opposition movement that staged a failed coup d’état with U.S. help in 2002.
4) John Kerry will further curtail our civil liberties.
Kerry gave his support and vote for Bush’s Patriot Act. But this was not just the product of post-9/11 Democratic spinelessness. Kerry also supported Clinton’s Patriot Act prequels, the 1994 Crime Bill and the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act.
5) John Kerry is a Drug War enthusiast.
With votes and rhetoric, the Senator has helped pack the prisons with over 2 million people, providing America the dubious honor of having the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. With promises to realize the 1994 Crime Bill’s intent to add 100,000 cops on the streets and even more stringent punishments for victimless crimes, Kerry has won the endorsement of most police associations in the country.
6) John Kerry’s economic plan will create poverty, not jobs.
Kerry continues to support “free-trade” treaties such as the WTO and NAFTA, which has destroyed hundreds of thousands of U.S. jobs, depressed wages in Mexico, and cost 3 million Mexican farmers their livelihoods. He voted for and continues to tout Clinton’s demolition of welfare, throwing hundreds of thousands into the streets, disproportionately young mothers and their children.
He has pledged to cut (yes, cut) the corporate tax rate. This is at a time of the greatest polarization of wealth since the 1920s, when after-tax corporate profits as a share of GDP have reached a level not seen since 1929, while poverty is growing and access to healthcare falling! At the same time, Kerry wants to maintain massive military expenditures on Iraq and Afghanistan.
7) John Kerry’s health care plan: don’t get sick.
Forty-four million people currently lack health insurance, and monthly premiums are reaching $500 in some states. In contrast with the majority of Americans, who consistently say they want a publicly funded universal healthcare system as a solution to the healthcare crisis, Kerry’s non-solution is to help insurers pay the cost of employees’ emergencies and hospital stays, and to provide tax credits to businesses. Kerry would use federal money to only help out the companies, not the workers who actually need it.
8) John Kerry, like George Bush, wants to leave every child behind.
The rising cost of college tuition now leaves many young people with staggering debt burdens, while cash-starved school districts are cutting hours from the school week and eliminating programs like preschool, music, and physical education. In the primary season, Kerry promised funding for universal preschool and to cover college costs for national service volunteers. But he has already broken his promise by scaling back these programs to appease Corporate America.
He has also scaled back plans for providing money to the states, leaving states and cities with fewer dollars to spend on education. Perhaps the fact that Kerry voted for Bush’s notorious “No Child Left Behind” legislation is the best indication of how Kerry will actually govern.
9) John Kerry opposes same-sex marriage rights.
At the national level and in his home state of Massachusetts, Kerry has made clear he does not support giving LGBT people equal marriage rights, instead suggesting second class “civil unions.”
10) John Kerry will only get worse.
After Kerry beat out Howard Dean in the primaries, he moved rightward, reneging on many populist primary promises. New York Times columnist David Brooks described Kerry’s strategy in an article aptly titled “Right Face, March!”: “John Kerry is … the policy twin of Joe Lieberman: a pro-trade, fiscally conservative centrist Democrat who is willing to pour more troops into Iraq to win the war. [He is playing] the quadrennial game that smart nominees play: Shaft the Left … Kerry now vows to cap federal spending and reduce the size of government … Kerry now insists he is not ‘a redistributionist Democrat.’ He flees from the word ‘liberal'” (5/4/04). Kerry feels he can ignore issues important to the current Democratic base – women, unions, people of color – since they certainly won’t turn to Bush. As long as Kerry can take the left for granted, he will have no incentive to implement any progressive policies. This was the case with Clinton, who came to power with the backing of the labor movement, then promptly passed NAFTA and forgot all about his promises for universal healthcare.
Millions of Americans are legitimately desperate to oust the un-elected George W. Bush from the White House. But simply defeating Bush does not mean defeating Bush’s policies – policies which have been either supported or allowed by the Democratic Party establishment, and will continue under a Kerry administration.
While differences between Bush and Kerry do exist on some issues, such as abortion rights or federal agency appointments, the Democrats have proven again and again that they are unwilling and unable to stand up and defend our rights on any front. When push comes to shove, figures like Kerry will always cave in to right-wing corporate interests, which have financed his entire political career.
The only way to really change things is to build a mass movement of regular people to fight for our interests and against both corporate parties of the status quo.
The two corporate parties are jointly barreling down a path of war, exploitation, and environmental destruction that threatens our living standards (and very existence as a species). Now more than ever, we need a new political party that is not beholden to the rich, and this will never happen as long as people vote for the lesser evil instead of the candidate they truly agree with.
Supporting Ralph Nader’s anti-corporate, anti-war campaign is the best way in 2004 to begin to break the stranglehold of the two-party system, preparing the way for regular people to join together and construct a genuine, progressive political alternative.
Justice #39, July-August 2004