Third Party & Independents Archives

Why I am Green, John Kerry, Part 1 of an Ongoing Series

In the election of 2000 where many Democrats blamed the Greens candidate, Ralph Nader, of swinging the election to George W Bush I was 17 years and 11 months old on Novemeber 2nd, and thus unable to vote. Therefore my first chance to vote for president was in 2004. While the 2000 election is widely argued few speak of the 2004 election, mainly, I believe, because of the pathetic nature of the Democratic candidate John Kerry, who turned off so many progressives.

So why am I, and so many young progressives Green, well I believe it too be because the Democrats nominated a candidate which did not stand for progressive values in any manner. What follows is the first part in a series which discusses the 2004 election as it relates to progressives and the candidacy of John Kerry.

Progressives were hoodwinked in 2004. The ‘Anybody but Bush’ mantra brought us John Kerry, who shares few views with progressives. Yet in the presidential election of 2004 progressives came out in droves for Kerry. For many this is easily explained, in an attempt to oust Bush progressives were drawn to vote for Kerry despite his many shortcomings rather than a candidate that shares their progressive views. This strategy which many progressives embraced is based in voting for the lesser of two evils. In embracing John Kerry we as progressives abandoned our values. We allowed our arguments to become nonexistent, our voices unheard. In this piece I will discuss progressive political thought, the views of John Kerry and the Democrats during the 2004 presidential election, how these two are not compatible and why we as progressives must break free from this party which consistently neglects our views.

Before we can begin our discussion we must first define what it means to be progressive. Progressivism in the broad sense is, according to Representative Lynn Woolsey, “rooted in three core principles…fighting for economic justice and security for all…protecting and preserving our civil rights and civil liberties…and promoting global peace and security” (1). Progressivism is a liberal ideology which cares about not only the people but the planet. Progressives embrace issues which would change society for the better, such as: universal health care, job creation, a living wage for workers (defined as ten dollars an hour) and a clean environment. Progressives advocate fair trade over free trade, allowing workers to unionize, a tax system which is heavier at the top than at the bottom and does not give massive tax cuts to the rich, against wars of aggression, equality for all no matter what their race, sex, disability, or sexual orientation. Progressives are people who embrace the anti-war movement, feminist movement, gay rights movement, civil rights movement and environmental movement.

Before going into a detailed discussion of how progressives were used in 2004 it is useful for us to look back at some recent ways the Democrats, and John Kerry in particular, have gone against progressive values. One must only think back to the years of Clinton to realize it was the Democrats who gave us NAFTA, which John Kerry voted for. Not only did Kerry vote for NAFTA but he voted for No Child Left Behind, which has been a disaster for our public schools, and the Patriot Act, which has brought a new age of government power over the citizenry never seen before (2). Furthermore it was the Clinton years which produced the bigoted Defense of Marriage Act, which a majority of Democrats supported, implemented to make concrete the idea that marriage could only be between a man and a woman (3).

In October of 1998 several Democrats in the Senate, including John Kerry, displayed their hawkish tendencies proudly. Kerry and this band of Democratic hawks wrote a letter to President Clinton recommending that the president “take necessary actions, including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspected Iraqi sites, to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs” (4). Thus not only did John Kerry vote to give Bush authority to go to war with Iraq, he could actually brag to conservatives that he had thought of the idea years ahead of time.

1. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, “The Progressive Promise,” In These Times 29 (18) (July 6, 2005.)
2. “The Progressives’ Dilemma in the 2004 Elections,” Tikkun 19 (5) (September 2004).
3. Thomas Harrison, “The Dead End of Lesser Evilism,” New Politics 10 (1) (37) (Summer 2004).
4. Stephen Zunes, “Democrats take a ‘Me, too’ attitude toward militarism,” The National Catholic Reporter 42 (7) (December 9, 2005): 25.

End of Part 1 in this continuing series discussing the 2004 election, John Kerry, and the effect of the election on progressives

Posted by Richard Rhodes at May 14, 2006 1:03 PM
Comment #148090

Before anyone points it out to me, yes I do realize that I quoted Rep. Lynn Woolsey in this piece. I want to point out this is not meant to be a condemnation of the Democrats completely. Instead it is meant to be a critique of the nomination of John Kerry in 2004.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 14, 2006 1:24 PM
Comment #148118

Bravo. We progs must stand up. The Dems are not liberal at this point. And true cons would agree with these points anyway. Real libs and cons agree on many things actually. The 2 big political parties aren’t true cons or libs. They are the pro-lining money in the pocket parties. Another progressive point ( and conservative as well ) is campaign finance reform and getting rid of the lobbyists once and for all. End PAC’s now. Have the F.C.C. make television throw free debates. Make sure candidates cannot anounce their candidacy until 8 weeks before the election ( like in England ). And finally- open primaries and all on the same day so Iowa and N.H. don’t select the candidate. Oh….one more thing…..the “news” cannot speculate, predict,etc. before all of the votes are counted. And no more polling. That would end the debacles of 2000 and 2004. Oh sorry…..that makes too much sense, never mind.

Posted by: Tim at May 14, 2006 4:44 PM
Comment #148141

I passed many of my tests to aquire my associates degree by reading the first line of every paragraph.

Posted by: Weary Willie at May 14, 2006 7:23 PM
Comment #148151

Weary Willie what does that comment have to do with anything?

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 14, 2006 8:13 PM
Comment #148172

Nice to see so many Greens supporting George “The Decider” Bush.

I imagine you will once again keep the GOP in power on November.

Posted by: Aldous at May 14, 2006 9:10 PM
Comment #148176

Aldous, how is speaking bad of John Kerry supporting Bush? John Kerry is not a saint he is a man, and a critique of him is not a support piece of Bush necessarily. The fact remains, as will be discussed in later parts of this series, that this piece would never have been written if the Democrats nominated a progressive in 2004: Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers Jr., or Lynn Woolsey all would have been fine progressive candidates. But John Kerry is not a progressive and if you can convince me that he is than go ahead and try.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 14, 2006 9:14 PM
Comment #148186

Richard Rhodes:

tsk tsk tsk…

In a two-horse race, the cry “you’re either with us or against us” does indeed apply. No matter how hard you deny it, the plain basic truth is that you supported The Shrub last Election. Just be happy with your choice.

Posted by: Aldous at May 14, 2006 9:54 PM
Comment #148200


Do you really think we’d be out of Iraq, have a budget surplus to start paying down the debt, and a properly implemented single payer healthcare system? Democrats aren’t going to get anything done, theyre a joke. So, if you want to say I support Bush, go right ahead, because the people you are voting for are no different from him.

There is no such thing as a leser of two evils. Evil is evil and should be eradicated indiscriminately.

So burn the democrats first, fine, republicans second. Whatever it takes to wrestle control of our country from those who would see it destroyed for an evanescent moment of power and wealth.

Democrats are not good, they are a part of the problem, we are the sollution. Just look at Maryland, the solid blue state I live in, the democrats use the same dirty tricks and incumbent priveledges that republicans use elsewhere. They don’t support freedom and democracy, they support democrats in power.

I want them all gone. Well, I’m okay with Obama, but hes about the only one at this point, depending on Arlen Specter, if he gets these hearings in gear I’ll be behind him as well.

Posted by: iandanger at May 14, 2006 11:11 PM
Comment #148203

That first sentence was supposed to be do you really think we’d be out of Iraq, have a budget surplus to start paying down the debt, and a properly implemented single payer healthcare system if Kerry won?

Posted by: iandanger at May 14, 2006 11:12 PM
Comment #148212

To aldous, and well all Democrats:
You better get down on your knees and thank Dennis Kucinich, John Conyers Jr, Lynn Woolsey, Barack Obama, and the few progressives in the Democratic Party. Because if it werent for these few true progressives, progressives would abandon your party altogether. Yet you spit in Dennis Kucinich’s face (this will be adrressed later in this series). Face it the Democratic Party is no longer what it was during The Great Society of Lyndon Johnson. If the Democrats were still The Great Society party you better believe I’d register Democrat in a minute, but your not and its sad.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 14, 2006 11:41 PM
Comment #148213

So just out of curiosity who did the progressives known as Greens run for president against W and Kerry?

Posted by: j2t2 at May 14, 2006 11:52 PM
Comment #148221

Well j2t2, you will eat your own comment when you hear this. The Green Party in 2004 ran David Cobb. But what I mean is that David Cobb actually ran a safe state strategy, not campaigning in swing states, during 2004. So in 2004, you have no one to blame but your own party, and oh yeah John Kerry.

And the fact that you would ask that question, as many do not even know who the Greens ran in 2004 is a testament of how the Green Party messed up badly in 2004. That safe state strategy made our candidate virtually unknown by nearly all of America, if we would have gone with someone, like Nader, who was unwilling to accept the safe state strategy than more persons would have known who the candidate for the Green Party in 2004 was.
(Note: Ralph Nader ran under the Reform Party ticket in 2004)

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 15, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #148247

Because it is Appropriate here, I am going to re-post what I said earlier in another thread in this column:

The Greens are Nice - don’t get me wrong…

Unfortunately, a vote for Green is a vote for a Republican.

Because - as it stands now - the fact is that a vote for a Green takes away a Vote for a Democrat, and - as it stands now - the only thing standing between Your Rights and a Republican is a Democrat.

If anyone thinks voting for the Lesser Of Two Evils is wrong, just wait until the Greater Evil gets the Power. There is nothing even remotely dishonourable about voting for the Lesser Of Two Evils!

I’m not a big fan of Party Machines. But when faced with Nazis, I’ll vote “Churchill” ten times out of ten…

Posted by: Betty Burke at May 15, 2006 6:30 AM
Comment #148332

Is it your belief that a candidate even more “progressive” than kerry would have won the presidential election?

Posted by: kctim at May 15, 2006 1:25 PM
Comment #148377

The democrats don’t care any more about civil liberties or responsible spending than republicans do. I’ll repeat myself, there is no such thing as a lesser of two evils, we are talking about a two party system in which there are more differences between the individual members of the parties than the parties themselves. The problem is that the members who are nominated to run for president are usually carbon copies of each other.

I think Gore would have made a better president than Bush, because Bush is the kind of person who is only in politics because of what he knows. Kerry on the other hand was no different from Bush, and I don’t think there would have been a concievable difference between the two.

Side note, I live in Maryland, which is solidly deomocratic. If you live here, you understand that voting for republicans is voting for the good guys, which is exactly my point. The party in power is the party that abuses power the way things are now.

Posted by: iandanger at May 15, 2006 5:44 PM
Comment #148409

kctim: yes it is my belief that a progressive candidate could have won the election. I would have personally voted for Dennis Kucinich in a second, however I voted for Nader because John Kerry is not progressive and David Cobb (the Green’s presidential candidate was not on the ballot in my state.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 15, 2006 7:12 PM
Comment #148773

How in the world is Aldous in the center column for independent parties his arguments are straight down the line Democrat.

Posted by: Richard Rhodes at May 16, 2006 9:19 PM
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