Sunday, October 09, 2005

Why Kerry Lost

I typed this up for a friend, and I figured my readers may appreciate it... maybe.

There are several reasons why John Kerry lost the presidential election in 2004, not the least of which, was of course, that he got less votes in the prestigious electoral college. The biggest problem with Kerry was that he had no admirable qualities, no outstanding qualifications, no exemplary tributes save one: he was not Bush.

There are very few people who agree with everything Bush has done, and all of them are unabashed political hacks who would vote Republican if he reinstates slavery. I am being slightly facetious of course, but there is very little Bush could do that he has not already done to upset the party loyalists.

But the loyalists do not comprise a majority of the voting electorate. There are always swing voters in any election, and 2004 was no exception. Kerry failed to win over enough of these moderates—obviously—and he lost. Why though? Bush was certainly not a strong candidate. There are two issues which are particularily telling in regards to a national election, namely war and economy. The economy was rolling steadily along, though certainly not booming, and the war had begun to sour. Bush was ripe for a defeat.

Unfortunately, Bush could not be attacked on either front. The economy was not bad enough that blaming Bush would be an effective tactic. Though cliché, September 11th should have wrecked the economy, and Bush deserves, at the very least, credit for keeping the wheels of the nation turning.

On the war, where he was vulnerable, Kerry could not strike a blow. There were many who called Kerry a “flip-flopper”, but I did not think then, nor do I now, that that is fair. A flip-flopper is someone who changes positions, and it is true, that in a sense, Kerry changed positions, but it is a sort of false change. He never committed to a side enough to enrage that side when he betrayed it. The man was quite literally a second-rate mercenary.

This was unavoidable though. If Kerry came down against the war, the American public would have reason to wonder why he did not oppose funding the war. If this war was so abomidable, as Kerry and the democrats said from time to time, why then was there so little vocal opposition at war's start? It's true that members of the rank and file marched in the streets, but opposition to Bush in Washington was almost non-existent. The votes of his party came back to haunt him, preventing Kerry from enacting a legitimate anti-war defense.

That left Kerry tepidly supporting the whole of Bush's war on terror. Yet he offered no reason he could win the war, aside from high-minded platitudes. Sure, he talked about getting the U.N. involved, but that was nothing if not confusing. If the war was immoral, or, at best, a necessary evil, why would we bring countries over to fight along side us?

The just of it, is this: Kerry was not deemed to be an effective leader by the people he depended on for his job, that is, the American people. We would, apparently, rather follow Bush, even if it were off a cliff than stick with Kerry, masquerading hither and thither. Confidence, even cockiness is a very American thing, and Kerry forgot this. Perhaps it is regretable that a cautious leader—say, like Lincoln—could not govern the land today. Yet as a poltician, it is his job to gauge the political landscape and place his bet. And in a very real sense, Kerry never placed his bet at all. The rest is, as they say, history.


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troutsky said...

Lets not forget the more important reasons :Kerry looked French ,and what was up with his wife,a feminist aristocrat who didnt gaze adoringly at her hubby? And of course Swift Boaters and the belief we could have won that war if we had only been willing to nuke that commie infested jungle.Its a great democracy.Say it over and over.See how it became the Truth?

A Wiser Man Than I said...

You make some good points, but I think you would be willing to admit that Kerry made some pretty big mistakes.

And yes, repetition works... that's the reason some people still think Saddam attacked us on 9/11.

C'est la vie...

troutsky said...

Of course he did and while I travelled clear to Washington state to work on his campaign for two weeks I never really had much faith in him (remember Im a socialist, the change Im looking for is still a long time coming) What he was though was an articulate, intelligent statesman which seem like admirable qualities compared to an evangelical ideologue of mediocre intellect. Politics in this country now consists of looking "natural" while holding a shotgun, looking "tough" in a flightsuit, looking resolute with your bullhorn in the rubble of 9/11, in other words pure ,vulgar spectacle.

On the issue of support from the UN, it would have been wise because it is an institutional structure created after two horrific wars to deal with just those types of situations (conflicts with agressor nation/states),an established set of international law, such as no pre-emptive strikes) to attempt to resolve conflicts etc. It doesnt try to decide if wars are "immoral" or "evil" ( a better realm for metaphysicians and Popes) but legal. We now see Greenspan for the syncophant he is (tax cuts for the super-rich are great for the economy) and he was a huge help for Bush, the list goes on but basically its a farcical comedy straight out of Brecht.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

Two points:

First, if Kerry was an intellectual it was only in comparison to Bush. Let's not forget how wonderful Kerry did at Yale. Maybe it's because I was so uninterested in the election, but I cannot think of a situation in which either candidate wowed me.

Second, UN support is great if we can get it, but hardly integral. The US should do what is best for our country and if that coincides with UN wishes that is grand. If not, we cannot lollygag waiting for Europe to hop on board. The problem with the Iraq war isn't that we're in it alone, but that we're there at all.

I don't understand you're beef with Greenspan. Seems to me he's doing a pretty good job with the economy, not that I know anything about macroeconomics. Then again, I'm not going to get up in arms over tax cuts for rich folks, so it may simply be an idealogical disagreement.

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