A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Maiden Voyage: An Essay Supporting John Kerry

Let’s cut straight to the chase. Last week over on One Hand Clapping, the blog of Reverend Donald Sensing, I entered a challenge to guest post a persuasive essay in support of the candidacy of John Kerry. I was beaten out by a truly superb submission by Scott Forbes of A Yank in Oz. Go over and read it when you can, and check out the comment section of Reverend Sensing’s original challenge Part I and Part II for some very fine pro and con debate with the bare minimum of Swift Boat Nonsense. I issued a counter-challenge—compare the G.W.Bush four years with any other four years of Republican Presidents since 1950—and, for once, some sensible evaluations of G.W.B. by his blogging supporters emerged.

Below is my challenge entry, which is a fine way to start this blog:

The good Reverend Sensing has kindly allowed me to tell you why I think you might vote for John Kerry. But before I do, we might as well let our hair down and be realistic—the reasons I would vote for John Kerry extend far beyond the reasons most of Reverend Sensing’s readers might vote for him. I support a distinctly liberal ideology and most of you don’t.

However, we are still in a crisis, facing an enemy we have not yet defeated who is a grave danger to us all. So I, at least, am willing to put my ideological agenda to one side for the moment and ask myself, “What do we need to DO for the next four years to protect ourselves and defeat our enemy?”

John Kerry, like any presidential contender, has lots of ideas about things to do. All any challenger to the office has, essentially, is ideas, and all we can really ask of him, honestly, is—are they good ideas? And can he make them happen?

This last is of first importance since an adult view, at least, of our politics must assume that the Republican Party is not going to vanish if John Kerry wins and the Democrats are not going to disappear if John Kerry loses.

So the reason you, or anyone, might consider voting for John Kerry are the good ideas he has, which have yet to achieve the status of bipartisan consensus, but could do so. John Kerry has at least five objectively good, non-ideological, ideas, which he could realistically do in four years (with Republican cooperation, of course--nobody is going to do anything without it) that would make us stronger and safer:

1. He thinks we should increase the size of our regular armed forces by 40,000 new volunteers and reorient our military thinking and weapons development toward more “boots on the ground”, which we have been chronically short of since our wars abroad started. Attracting such new volunteers would require, of course, a far better approach to how we treat our soldiers and their families than we currently have. Kerry has proposed one.

2. He wants to separate the National Guard and Reserve from the newly strengthened active duty forces and employ the Guard and Reserve in an expanded Homeland Security role.

3. He wants to re-orient our Homeland Security efforts toward prioritized protection in five areas: nuclear storage sites, power plants, and shipment routes; chemical manufacturing plants; seaborne cargo containers; and border patrol. Many of these sites are at high risk for turning a small terrorist attack into a much larger disaster. It is clearly the use of a force the size of the Guard and Reserve that will make this effort possible.

4. He supports upgrading, in terms of funding, supplies, and increase of personpower, of firefighting and police emergency personel needed to both respond to terrorist emergency and to proactively supplement the Guard and Reserve in these security roles.

5. He has proposed a comprehensive plan to eliminate the single greatest danger to public safety and security this country faces: 43 million uninsured people in the health care system. In the event of a broad biological weapons attack, (or even an ordinary, lethal, and uncontrolled contagious epidemic like Spanish Flu) the contagion will be spread like wildfire by the millions of uninsured who will significantly delay seeking care.

In 2003 we were too busy invading Iraq to notice, but we dodged a bullet called SARS. It passed right by us to the North. We will not keep dodging such bullets forever. Ultimately, for everybody’s safety, as many people as possible have to be covered by medical insurance.

Certainly, in a time like ours, anyone can make a reputation in this country as a “strong, determined leader” based solely on his willingness to start wars without reference to whether he has any ideas about them or not.

But a few good ideas might be a refreshing change. They also might be the difference, ultimately, between successfully ending the war on terror and merely orchestrating an endless series of televised “victories” over terrorists.

At least I think so, and you might consider whether you think so too.


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