a difficult time to be a progressive in the United States, and even more so
in the run-up to the 2004 elections, watching in dismay as so many respected
progressives buckle and throw their support to John Kerry--and chastise
other progressives for not doing the same. I think it's worthwhile to make a
list of some of Kerry's positions on key issues, to clarify just who it is
they're asking us to support:
Kerry voted for the Iraq war and
infamously proclaimed that he would do so again even knowing that
there were no WMDs in Iraq. Let that sink in for a moment: he'd do the
same thing again, even knowing that no WMDs would be found, and even
knowing what Bush did with the authority. His handwaving about it being
"the right authority for a president to have" is utterly disingenuous; we
all knew exactly what was coming and what that vote meant, and since Kerry
is no fool he certainly knew it as well, no matter how he tries to
misrepresent it now.
Furthermore, Kerry has vowed to prosecute the war in
Iraq even more viciously than Bush, saying that unlike Bush, he will "not
back off of the Fallujahs and other places, and send the wrong message to
Kerry is also delusional enough to believe that
"victory" is possible in Iraq and has said that he will not withdraw from
Iraq under any other circumstances,
as he declared in the first debate: "I have a plan for Iraq. I believe
we can be successful. I'm not talking about leaving. I'm talking about
winning." And note that this statement was made during Kerry's prepared
closing comments--this was not just a statement made in the heat of the
moment, but rather his official policy.
Kerry opposes the Kyoto Protocol,
just as the Clinton administration
did in its eight years in power (something that liberals and
progressives have managed to ignore or forget). His official position is
Kyoto Protocol is not the answer. The near-term emission reductions it
would require of the United States are infeasible, while the long-term
obligations imposed on all nations are too little to solve the problem."
Revealing his true environmental stance even further,
Kerry has vowed to "put that pipeline [from Alaska to the continental US]
drill like never before, drill all over the United States."
Kerry voted for the USA PATRIOT act (parts of which he
purportedly claims to have written himself), and made a point of
reiterating his support for it in the second debate. He also supported
the Clinton administration's
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the precursor
to the USA PATRIOT act.
opposes US participation in the International Criminal Court.
on the stronger
statements he made in 1971 in opposition to the Vietnam
War--undercutting the one action for which he perhaps most genuinely did
deserve the support of progressives--saying they were "inappropriate" and
"a little bit excessive," and characterizing them as "mistakes." This is
part of a general pattern of distancing himself from his now politically
inconvenient former principles, as in his laughably dishonest
repudiation of his previous opposition to the invasion of Grenada: "I
was dismissive of the majesty of the invasion of Grenada," Kerry says now.
"But I basically was supportive. I never publicly opposed it."
voted for and supports NAFTA, the WTO (formerly GATT), permanent
normal trade relations (PNTR) for China, and fast track negotiating
authority for the president. And although he's paid lip service to the
idea of protecting workers' rights, nobody should be fooled by that--the
Director-General of the WTO certainly wasn't.
vowed to cut corporate taxes, since he's apparently not satisfied that
the share of taxes paid by corporations is now
lower than it's been at any time since World War II (and that was
before Congress' recent passage of a massive tax giveaway for
Kerry has rejected international law (and co-opted
Republican rhetoric nearly verbatim) in declaring repeatedly that he "will
never give any nation or international institution a veto over our
national security." This is (again) just a continuation of Clinton
administration policy, which explicitly rejected the primacy of the United
Nations on issues of global security, as when Clinton repeatedly attacked
Iraq and bombed Yugoslavia without even the pretense of United Nations
And of course Kerry's enthusiastic support for Israel's
ongoing policy of slow motion ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip is second to none, as evidenced by his
official position paper.
The list goes on and on; this is just a sampling. Nearly
every one of these positions mirror those of the Bush administration, and in
fact in many cases Kerry is attacking Bush from the right,
as I've noted previously.
This is John Kerry. If you cast a vote for him, you're giving him
your consent and encouragement to go forward with these kinds of policies
and principles. If you choose to do so, that's up to you--but you should at
least know exactly who it is you're supporting.
John Caruso is a San
Francisco Bay Area technical consultant and progressive activist. He was
one of the contributors to
Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion 2002. Visit
his excellent weblog to view more of his writings at:
He can be reached at: