I think there are a lot of people out there ready to jump the Bush ship, but they simply haven't been given the reason to make the move. They're not happy with W and his policies, but wonder what will really change with a Kerry administration. It's all well and good to complain that the public and consequently the campaign has been distracted by vicious attacks filled with half truths or even outright lies, but that's no excuse for not getting straight and clear talk from the candidate. Let's face it, our world is in a real mess and John Kerry has to tell us exactly - specifics not platitudes - what he will do about it.
Without question the economic issues are real as are the anxieties about healthcare in general and Medicare in particular. An under funded "No Child Left Behind" can't go on if we are to remain competitive with an increasingly well educated developing world. That great "sucking noise" of jobs exiting the country predicted by Ross Perot is a top priority in the industrial states and no less so in the corridors of Tech Valley. A woman's right to choose and the future direction of the Supreme Court can't be overlooked. On all of these Kerry has spoken out, but in the final analysis I don't think any of them turn the election even though they probably have the most immediate impact upon our daily lives.
The key question for those who might opt out of the Republican column this year, and for most of us as well, is what will John Kerry do about the two burning international issues that have dominated our attention in the past three years: terrorism and Iraq? How does Kerry view these two life-threatening problems and what specifically is he going to do about them?
It is now a cliché to say that the so-called war on terrorism will be with us indefinitely. I accept that. But what is this war, who are we really fighting and, beyond the preventative measures and reflexive "hit backs," what are we going to do to reduce the underlying causes of terrorism? What steps will we take to mitigate the desperation felt by young people in the many oppressed lands around the globe? How will a Kerry administration work toward making the powerless feel empowered, focused on building their own lives not destroying ours? What will it do to finally bring peace to Palestinians and Israelis, bring it not pay mere lip service to it?
Many of us vigorously opposed the war in Iraq, but here we are mired in its aftermath. So what now and what exactly are our objectives in Iraq? What is the exit strategy and how specifically will we engage the world community in helping fix the mess we have made? What about the current Administration's inotion that democracy cures all, the modern day reverse domino theory? Does John Kerry buy it? Who will he put in charge of righting this disaster and why do they have the smarts and credentials to accomplish success where others have so miserably failed? How will he personally engage in this process and who among other world leaders does he think are essential partners to accomplish his goals?
There are many questions and a desperate need for answers if we – the decided and the undecided – are to have the confidence that voting for John Kerry is not simply voting change for its own sake. It's time to stop wearing defeat George Bush buttons and start wearing ones that say vote for John Kerry, but that won't just happen. We need some answers. John Kerry, you have the floor. It's time to use it.