I found this article on a website called "Zen Politics". It describes itself thusly, "A 'quiet' place to discuss politics with a Zen perspective". I'm not sure I agree with EVERYTHING on the site, but I did read an article from November of last year, which attempted to explain (one of) the reasons why John Kerry lost the election in 2004. The more I read it, the more it really hit home for me. This article wound up saying what I have been trying to articulate for a while now: the American electorate respects someone who will stand up for what they REALLY believe in and who will (at least seem to) speak from the heart, and who doesn't just wait to be told by pollsters what their position would be. The article gives the example of Bill Clinton & Ronald Reagan. Probably as different as 2 politicians can be, but they were both known for their connection to the every day man and woman. To this day, it sends shivers down my spine to hear anyone talk about how Ronald Reagan made it "morning again in America", but I can give the devil his due, and say that he did a great job at making people believe that he actually cared about the every day American so that they could overlook things like spending our country into oblivion & ignoring the deadly AIDS epidemic. "Ronnie" made a lot of people feel good about their country, and they sent him to the White House twice (ironically, while still keeping a Democratic Congress). The same can be said of Bill Clinton (who, by the way, for most of his time at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, had to contend with a majority Republican Congress). He was beset by one congressional "witch hunt" (no offense intended for my dear Wiccan friends, of course) investigation after another and had to undergo an impeachment trial over oral sex in the Oval Office, but most Americans never stopped supporting this man who challenged all of us to never "stop thinking about tomorrow" and who worked FOR the best interests of the little guy (and gal)--and they believed it all through the impeachment charade and until the day he left office. Whatever you can say about these two men and whatever political disagreements you may have had with them, most of us believed that they seemed so genuine and so about the business of making this country a better place. I, personally, just don't see that in ANY of the Democrats currently appearing to run for president. I used to love the idea of Hillary running, but her unabashed embrace of the war of lies in Iraq and her unwillingness to stand up for equal marriage rights for queer Americans has really turned me off to her (I say this even though I agree with probably 90 or more percent of her stands). It's a separate issue that I will just touch on here, but I've found myself more radicalized lately regarding at least the "gay marriage" issue. I'm not going to support anyone who took the seemingly-popular stance of 2004 of separate-but-unequal civil unions, which is what Hillary seems to be in favor of today. On this, I as a Queer American, cannot bend. If I agree to accept less as an American citizen, then less is what I will be given, and, for me, to quote the old southern line, that dog just won't hunt! I may be called a "one issue" voter because of it, but, again, for me, that's a HUGE issue. The bottom line is that, while I voted for John Kerry, I did so more because I wanted to keep the country I love so much out of Dubya's hell-bound handbasket than for any great love of Kerry's intuitive "talent" of being non-committal. To be honest, John Edwards inspired me much more than John Kerry, but I even began to see Kerry's effect on Edwards after they became the ticket (Edwards, in my opinion, was forced to carry Kerry's "all-things-to-all-people" banner). Anyway, I've included the Zen Politics article and I hope it speaks to you, too. I will leave you with the line from the Aaron Tippin song that has come to sum up my own emerging political philosophy: "You've got to stand for something or you'll fall for anything"...
Who knows the real John Kerry? A hole is nothing at all, but you can break your neck in it.
For most politicians ‘vision’ is something they claim to have, but seldom do. In our recent political exercises we have found ourselves as voters trying to decipher the real positions and intent of the candidates. I never could figure out what Kerry the man believed, and was confused by Kerry the politician. Has he gone ‘hunting’ in Ohio since he lost the election? I don’t think so, do you? Would he, if was not running for President and cast his vote as a Senator from Massachusetts have voted to go to war in Iraq? I don’t think so, do you? Would he have voted for the $86 Billion dollar funding for the war? I think he would have, if he were not hounded by Howard Dean into his duplicitous argument of having ‘voted for it, before I voted against it’ . Does anyone seriously think that, in his heart of hearts, he is against allowing gay marriage rights? I don’t, do you?
That was what cost Kerry the election. The real John Kerry stayed home and the handlers and professional posers schooled him on what they told him the electorate wanted from a president. He danced their dance, he spoke their words, and in the end the insincerity is what lost him the sliver of votes he needed to become president.
Clinton and Reagan may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum but they both had one similar trait. They spoke from their heart, and what they said either infuriated or endeared people to them and their cause. Bill Clinton’s support for NAFTA was principled and surely cost him votes, but he intended to support it if elected and he said so. Ronald Reagan’s strong personal stance on abortion just as surely cost him votes, but he hardly hid his views under a tree. Both had one other quality, and that was the ability for the common everyday American to feel comfortable with them, and everyone to this day refers to William Jefferson Clinton as 'Bill', just as easily as voters thought of Ronald Wilson Reagan as 'Ron' or 'Ronnie'. John Fitzgerald Kennedy was always ‘Jack’. No one ever called Kerry by a nickname, and I am not sure why that is, he must have one around the house, but he was so formal is his speech and demeanor, and unrevealing about the ‘person’ and the convictions that he held in private, that Calling George W. Bush ‘Dubya’ seemed less like an epitaph than a term of affection. Go figure.
I still like to listen to Bill Clinton speak, even if I am shaking my head in disagreement with what he is saying. I listen to his speeches all the time and he wins me over as a person even when he fails to win me over with his arguments. John Kerry cannot seem to let us know who he really is, and I suspect that is the reason he is not president today. We saw that what we were allowed to see was the ‘package’ and not the person. The Democrats should never feel desperate enough to run him again. Let’s hope they can find someone who can relate their true positions and reveal their true personality in the next campaign for president. They might just find that the ‘sliver’ of votes that they need right there for the taking.