Four years ago, as Americans went
to the polls to vote for who would become the next president of the
United States, the nation was enjoying a period of unprecedented
growth and prosperity. Today, as we stand on the brink of another
election, our world is decidedly and irreversibly different.
Recession, war and the threat of global terrorism have helped make
this election unique — one in which competing ideologies, not
merely issues, share the ballot. Few campaigns have been as
contested. Few elections have been as anticipated. Most of all, few
decisions will matter as much to our generation and our world as
the decision that the nation will make on Tuesday.

After an electoral disaster divided the nation, the events of
Sept. 11 brought it together in ways not seen since the attacks on
Pearl Harbor. In these complicated times, the American public
deserved an honest, nuanced approach from its chief executive.
Instead, America got a platform of irresponsible fiscal policies,
fear and misinformation designed to appeal to the basest of
instincts among the electorate. Using ominous, often misleading
language, President Bush ensured that the threat of terrorism would
rarely stray from the American consciousness. He promised to unite
a nation with compassionate conservatism. Instead, he has divided
it with unilateral and dogmatic policies at the domestic and
international levels.

With a demographic surge threatening our critical social
programs, Bush’s fiscal record is nothing short of negligent.
Fiscal conservatives should be up in arms over Bush’s 22
percent increase in federal spending. Progressives should be
outraged that the funds needed to keep social programs like
Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security solvent have been splurged.
Tax cuts, targeted primarily at the upper classes, have contributed
to national deficits that the Congressional Budget Office projects
will continue unabated for the next 10 years, and most likely well
after that.

Bush’s environmental policy has managed to undo decades of
progress toward clean air and water. One of his first acts as
president was to walk away from the table on the Kyoto Protocol,
throwing away years of negotiation on the issue. His stance on
global warming is at odds with that of most experts; his platform
far short of what is needed to effectively reverse the trend. He
reneged on an earlier pledge to regulate carbon dioxide, and has
weakened provisions of the Clean Air and Clean Water acts.

From faith-based initiatives to his support for a constitutional
amendment banning gay marriage, Bush has rarely shied away from
using faith to divide the nation and appeal to his religious base.
His stance on the death penalty – that it acts as a deterrent
to violent crime – flies in the face of a mountain of
empirical data indicating that this is not so. With U.S. Supreme
Court vacancies likely to appear over the next four years,
Bush’s position on these issues becomes all the more
threatening.

But it is abroad that the Bush ideology has been the most
damaging. Though the link between al-Qaida and Saddam Hussein has
never been substantiated, the Bush administration used the Sept. 11
tragedy as the catalyst for the invasion of Iraq. We now know that
the intelligence they used to build to their case was incorrect in
a number of its assertions. The massive Iraqi weapons stockpiles,
along with Hussein’s nuclear program, are nonexistent.
Disturbingly, it is evident that the Bush administration knowingly
sold the war to the American public in spite of these gaps in the
intelligence.

Meanwhile, Bush has seen to it that the costs of the war,
primarily borne on the backs of U.S. servicemen and women, remain
largely hidden from public view. Life in America has gone on, while
the bodies of more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers have come home in
secret, far removed from the eyes of the public and the press.

 

While the Bush administration
pursued its agenda, the Democratic Party, including presidential
candidate Sen. John Kerry, was uncharacteristically quiet. Hedging
their bets, both Kerry and his running mate, Sen. John Edwards,
voted to authorize sending U.S. troops into Iraq — a vote
that has haunted them ever since. Ultimately, Kerry and the
Democratic leadership failed to hold the president accountable for
a number of his actions after Sept. 11, opting instead to wait
until it was more politically convenient to voice their
reservations.

Because of these failures, many Americans do not find Kerry
inspiring. They do not see him as a strong leader who can rally the
forces of positive change at home and abroad. While Kerry is no
doubt an imperfect candidate, we reject this cynical and largely
unfounded criticism.

 

Kerry is a serious man who thinks
deeply about the challenges the country faces. For decades, he has
shown that he is passionate about righting society’s wrongs,
and he has not shied away from these convictions during a close
election campaign.

With the nation’s finances in a difficulty, Kerry has
pledged to restore fiscal responsibility to the Oval Office,
reining in Bush’s staggering increases in federal spending.
He has promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first
term, in part by repealing the Bush tax cuts on the upper
class.

As a senator, Kerry has one of the finest environmental records
in Congress. In 1970, he helped organize the first Earth Day, and
the non partisan League of Conservation Voters described Kerry as
“one of America’s premier environmental leaders.”
Kerry has pledged to end the frenetic pace of deregulation that has
been a trademark of the Bush environmental platform. He fully
recognizes the threat posed by global warming and supports tougher
fuel efficiency standards. He also led the fight against the Bush
plan to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reservation.

In the third debate, Kerry’s social agenda came to the
forefront as one of the strongest aspects of his platform. Faced
with the choice between his Catholicism and his positions on issues
like gay rights, stem cell research and a woman’s right to
choose, Kerry clearly reconciled any conflict. Unlike his opponent,
Kerry explained that his faith does not come at the expense of his
progressive positions on these important issues. Kerry supports
abortion rights and will use the office to appoint judicial
nominees that will do the same. Kerry will not compromise promising
stem cell research in order to advance a religious agenda.
Moreover, Kerry’s aggressive and laudable stance against the
death penalty is courageous one, and one of the most adamant taken
by a presidential candidate in years.

Most of all, Kerry has promised to revise our foreign policy and
re-engage the world in the fight on terrorism — restoring the
United States to a respected place in the international community.
For all Americans, this, not political or party affiliation, should
be the crucial issue in the election. This is a referendum not just
on the performance of Bush administration, but also on its ideology
— one that embraces the strategy of pre-emptive war,
advocates a policy of unilateralism and requires an unprecedented
commitment of U.S. armed forces abroad.

We do not find this nation to be better off as a result of this
ideology. Today, America faces an insurgency that shows no sign of
dissipating. It faces a Middle East roadmap for peace that has been
abandoned after two years of neglect. It faces a North Korea that
has likely gone nuclear and several other states threatening to do
so. It faces mounting anti-Americanism abroad.

The Bush administration has not led, it has divided.
Internationally, it has divided the world into two groups: those
with us and those against us. At home, it has widened the divide
between rich and poor, Christian and Muslim, Democrat and
Republican, liberal and conservative.

John Kerry is a leader. He is a man whose beliefs were forged
while leading the fight against an unpopular war — an
experience that seems uniquely suited to the challenges of the
present.

With this in mind, we enthusiastically endorse JOHN KERRY for
President of the United States.

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