Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, July 22, 2003  

So, why isn't John Kerry getting any run? He's liberal, he's smart, he's well-financed, and he seems pretty popular with the folks back in New England. I can't speak for everyone (well, I can, but it's poor form to admit it), but I know what I thought: he stinks of money. By which I mean, of course, that he seems like the usual politician-for-rent who's turned off so many progressives over the past 15 years. It all seemed confirmed last year when the Iraq resolution came around and Kerry wasn't willing to stand up to Bush and call a bad war a bad war.

But of all the candidates not named Kucinich, Kerry's the guy I've wondered most about. He is liberal. Put aside the issue with the war. He's great on the environment and social programs. His health care proposal actually seems fairly solid. He's good on civil rights , workers' rights, and education. So what's wrong?

Well, for me it's a credibility issue. My whole life I've watched politicians pull the bait-and-switch. This is the Gen X condition. We have developed this innate spidey sense that goes off whenever a guy like Kerry comes on the telly. In the hyper-commercialized world we grew up in, we became increasingly distrustful of people peddling idealism and progressivism for obviously self-interested goals.

In The Emerging Democratic Majority, authors Judis and Teixeira discuss how Gore lost the presidency. In polling done at the time of the election, they found "lack of trust" as the main reason people didn't vote for him. But while they attributed that to swing voters in the middle who watched his message swing wildly during the campaign, they failed to identify those of us liberals (and liberal non-voters, who weren't polled) who didn't trust Gore because of what appeared to be self-interested liberalism. We didn't know if he'd sell us down the river like Clinton.

But I just can't figure Kerry. I'd like someone with some more history with him to give me some insight, because the truth is, I'd like it if my spidey sense were wrong. I love Kucinich, and I'm gonna help try to give birth to a revolution. But on the off chance that doesn't work out, I like the idea that the front runner is the second-most liberal candidate in the race. (No, Deanies, your man's not the front runner yet, nor is he liberal. But I think he's all right. My spidey sense isn't acting up with the doc.) And, this news that he's got a broad base of support is heartening to me. I figure these come from his loyal supporters who presumably haven't gotten the old bait-and-switch from him.

Kerry? Maybe so.

posted by Jeff | 3:13 PM |
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