Published on Friday, March 26, 2004 by CommonDreams.org
Senator Kerry: You Want My Vote? Support My Positions!
by Ann Samuelson
I'm tired of hearing the Democrats rail against Ralph Nader. As a 2000 Nader voter, I'm tired of having the Democrats condemn me, blackmail me, imply that I've been duped, and suggest I have no alternative but to shut up and vote for them. As recently as Thursday night at a Democratic funding raising dinner President Jimmy Carter said, in a statement directed at Ralph Nader, "Don't risk costing the Democrats the White House this year as you did four years ago." This type of scapegoat does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy about voting for John Kerry and the Democrats.
Carter also said "I hope everyone here tonight will do your best to make sure Ralph Nader gets zero votes this year."
There is a very simple way to insure that Ralph Nader gets zero votes this year: support his positions. If Senator Kerry supported even a few of Nader's positions I would vote for him. Usually I vote for the person whose positions and votes reflect my own views. Unfortunately for Democrats, John Kerry can't run on his voting record. Kerry rolled over for the Republicans and voted with the current Administrative on much of the legislation the left opposed: the Patriot Act, the "No Child Left Behind" Act, NAFTA, and the act giving Bush authority to attack Iraq, among others.
I might even forgive these votes if he held progressive views today. But, alas, he does not. Take his stand on the war in Iraq. He's not willing to commit to bringing the troops home. Instead, he gives vague statements about getting the UN involved and rapidly passing power over to the Iraqis.
As with many prior Democratic presidential candidates, I fully expect to see Kerry move to the right as we get closer to the election. We can see this kind of movement in a speech Kerry made on March 19th when he condemned Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected President of Venezuela. Candidate Kerry characterized Chavez's policies as "detrimental to our interests" and suggested he was undermining Venezuela's democracy as well as supporting Columbian rebels. Kerry singled out Chavez's friendship with Fidel Castro for special condemnation and accused him of impeding a recall referendum. Prior to this, news reports suggested Chavez was trying to court a friendship with Kerry.
So what are Chavez's real crimes? He's undertaken a land reform in Venezuela, giving idle lands to poor peasants; many of these lands were previously under the jurisdiction of large plantation owners. Also, he's taken on big oil interests by passing laws that doubled the royalty taxes paid by oil operators and he's asserted control over the state owned state oil company, which was previously controlled by foreign oil interests. It's telling that one of the few places you can find the full text of Kerry's speech is on Petroleum World website ( http://www.petroleumworld.com/Edit4Mar24.htm).
I would doubt the majority of Americans know who Hugh Chavez is or care about America's relationship with him. If this speech is not earning Kerry points with the voters, why is he making it? It's a wink and a nod at the wealthy and the corporations who have business interests in Venezuela. Through this speech he's implying that while he might take left stances in public, he's really siding with big corporate interests just like Bush. So it's up to you, Senator Kerry. What's it to be? Do you want my vote or do you want to continue courting corporations and the wealthy? Either way the Democratic Party ought to stop blaming Nader for their own failures.
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Ann Samuelson ( email@example.com) is Chair of the Green Party of Pima County, in Tucson, Arizona. Currently she is an undecided voter.