Allow me to start with the words of a true progressive, visionary, and someone who I guess must be just as plugged into the matrix as I am: Howard Dean, in his concession speech, closed by saying “Although my candidacy for president may end today, the most important goal remains defeating George W. Bush in November, and I hope that you will join me in doing everything we can to support the Democrats this fall.”
So Annie and I both were moved by the ’92 election, as were many others of our age and background–but from there we took different paths to achieve that vision in the world around us. Ispired by Gore’s ideas, Annie worked, and continues to work for progressive programs to help make those dreams become reality.
While I fell in love with many of the ideas espoused by the Clinton/Gore team, what really moved me was the fact that one charasmatic individual had the ability to reach out to the masses through the medium of politics, and inspire thousands of Annies to action.
That’s why we both liked Dean. And Kennedy (both of them). But without the pulpit of a viable candidacy, the ability to effect actual change diminishes. I believe that “pure” inspiration without action is noble, but best expressed through art, music, poetry, and literature, whose purpose is chiefly to inspire and generate new ideas, new discussions.
History is replete with imperfect men and women who found themselves at the right place and time, and rose to the occasion to become great leaders. John Kerry, since he is now the presumptive Democratic nominee, may be an imperfect vessel, but I believe his message will eventually transcend his limitations. The difference between Kerry and Bush is that if given an opportunity, Kerry may prove to be a great leader. Bush has already proven he is not. Voting for Kucinich, Sharpton, or Nader, is voting for someone who might have leadership ability, but will never have the opportunity to put it to use. A bird in the hand is worth two in the “bush” (pardon the pun). We may wish for a a perfect leader to arise, but in the words of a friend of mine, “wish in one hand, spit in the other, and see which one fills up first.”
Dean was unwilling to be anyone’s yes-man. That was an “idealistic” strength, but a “political” weakness. Remember, Terry Mcauliffe is where he is because he in turn was Bill Clinton’s “yes man.” Because Clinton was the president. Kerry won’t be a yes man once he’s sworn in–not to Terry Mcauliffe (who will then technically be employed by Kerry), and certainly not to the corporate tycoons Bush owes allegiance to. The six giant corporations alluded to would just love it for disenfranchised dems to ally ourselves with so-called “progress” in the guise of an unelectable candidate who will guarantee them four more years of Bush. Politics, and life, in the end IS all about shades of gray. It’s the right wingers who would have us believe everything is black and white.
Back to Kerry. Look closely when he speaks, and you’ll notice the guardian angel standing slightly behind him and to the “left,” carefully guiding his actions and words. That’s right, good old Teddy–never a voice for the status quo. I don’t believe Kerry will simply put a Democratic spin on existing Bush policies. True, I don’t think he’ll be a revolutionary, either, but allowing Bush to be re-elected just to pin him with the blame in the History books is wrong. Don’t screw America at a crucial economic juncture just be able to say, “we were right, nyah, nyah…” Clinton balanced the budget and produced a surplus in eight years–no one expected that from him. I refuse to trade the hope that Kerry may do something good for the certainty that no other candidate will.