The upcoming general election for the presidency has been narrowed down to three major choices: Bush, Nader, and Kerry. This election is likely to yield a high voter turn out. Americans must ask themselves what the issues are that matter, and in what direction we want our country to go. In this election, position issues will play a significant role in many Americans’ decisions: issues such as the economy, tax cuts, health care, the environment, civil liberties, and gay marriage. There is also a growing issue among democratic voters regarding electablity, referring to the swing voters. Whatever your choice might be, the important thing here is to be an active participant in our great democracy; after all, your vote is your voice.The following is a list of the major candidates for the presidency and their positions on the various issues, as well as a look into what kind of campaign we can expect from them.
Democratic candidate John Kerry has been a senator for Massachusetts for twenty years.
John Kerry on the issues facing America today: He supports a form of nationalized health care funded by reversing Bush’s tax cuts. He supports education reform by fully funding No Child Left Behind. He would balance the budget by cutting wasteful spending. He would let the Patriot Act expire without renewal. He supports renewable fuel sources and other environmentally positive changes. He supports job creation by assisting small businesses. He supports a more aggressive drug policy. He opposes the death penalty and gay marriage, but supports benefits for gay couples.
John Kerry has lead the way as the front runner in the primaries, winning all but a few, and on Super Tuesday (March 2) he became the unofficial Democratic nominee; however, he now has enough delegates for the nomination. Kerry has a large support base, including everyone from Vietnam War vets to union members, and the youth vote. In some of the latest polls, Kerry has President Bush beat by about nine percent. Kerry has also launched strong television advertisements in response to Bush’s ads. Kerry’s goal to win the election would be to present himself as a conservative Democrat and as a person who can relate to the people not just Washington insiders. Kerry’s challenge will be to explain his liberal voting record, which is more liberal than Ted Kennedy’s record.
George W. Bush, the incumbent president, has no competition on the Republican side, but faces strong opposition from the left, independents, and some on the right.
Bush on the issues facing America today: He opposes a national health care system say-ing “it is the wrong prescription,” but he does support tax credits for health benefits. He supports the development of hydrogen-powered fuel cells. He supports the Patriot Act and he would seek to expand it, and make it permanent. He created No Child Left Behind Act, but has not fully funded it. He created the tax cuts, and hopes they will keep the economy on track. He supports privatizing a portion of social security. He supports the death penalty. He supports a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
Bush’s approval rating has been on the decline since the war in Iraq, his spending is out of control, and his strong opposition to gay rights has caused his popularity to seriously decline. The tax cuts have lead among other things to a $500 billion deficit, and the loss of millions of jobs. The White House budget’s way of fixing the deficit is to continue the spending, because in theory if the economy does well over the next five years the deficit will go down, but never become a surplus. Gambling on the economy is a bad policy, he needs to make real change by cutting the tax cuts back, and keep them only for those who need them. I question the tax cuts themselves; I’m not sure how much three hundred dollars will help a family over the long term.
Bush’s strong stance on the issue of gay marriage is alarming as well. Whether or not he or anyone else believes in gay marriage is not the issue. The issue is that any law that would disenfranchise any citizen, or separate them from the same rights and liberties as the rest of the population is fundamentally wrong. As our country says, “liberty and justice for all.” He also needs to support a more active environmental policy.
Bush has some serious question about his voter base, which is waning; his NRA and AARP constituents have even criticized him. Bush’s youth base is almost non-existent in comparison to the Democrats and Independents. He is also not favored internationally. Bush is going to have to tone down his neoconservative image in order to win the election.
Bush’s television advertisements are disturbing and aggressive. The controversy over the use of 9/11 in his ads was a poor choice for the Bush team. Although Bush’s leadership during the crisis was outstanding, using graphic images in the ads was uncalled for. They could have just said something brief about his great leadership during 9/11 with a background of a waving American flag, which would have been tasteful.
Ralph Nader is running for the presidency, but this time he is on the Independent platform. Nader says, “The Bush Administration and the Democratic Party, in varying extremes, are putting the interests of their corporate paymas-ters before the interests of the people. In the Nader Campaign the PEOPLE RULE. Mr. Nader takes seriously a government ‘of, by and for the people,’ within a deliberative democratic society.”
Ralph Nader on the issues facing America today: he would nationalize health care, creating a single-payer system with full coverage that is cost controlled. He would employ a fair tax that would seek out the wealthy and corporations. He would create jobs by investing in the people and environment; he would also create a living wage instead of having the current minimum wage. He would cancel NAFTA and the WTO to create open trade agreements that would have labor and human rights standards issues full addressed.
He is anti-big business, and would not let corporations destroy the environment and peoples’ lives. He would fund education for everyone, even at the college level, and with the state and federal government picking up the tab. He would repeal the Patriot Act. He opposes the death penalty. He would legalize some drugs like marijuana, so that they could be taxed, and hopes it will end the problem with the war on drugs. He would work peacefully inter-nationally to create world peace, non-nuclear proliferation, and to control the spread of infectious diseases.
Nader’s position on the issues is not that different from the last time he ran for office in 2000 under the Green Party platform. Nader’s platform consists mostly of protecting the people and the environment, and is anti-corporation.
However, what he proposes would create a government so large that I question how it would be funded. Also, would his stringent proposals compromise free enterprise? I also question where his voter base exists; he said that he “would avoid battle ground states, and only campaign in safe states.” What’s exactly is a “safe state?” Nader is also going to have to overcome a media bias in order to get exposure. Nader has already come under fire from the right and left, saying that he was a spoiler in the last election for Gore. But that is not the entire case, and most of the people who wanted to vote for Nader voted for Nader, rather then saying, “I’ll vote for Nader unless he says vote for the lesser of the two evils: Gore.” Third parties are a necessity for democracy because it’s about choice and truth, the ideas that will set us free.
Those are the major candidates for the election of ’04. There will be other parties that you might see on the ticket this fall, but of these three, one will surely be the president for the next four years. The important thing is to VOTE, because without voting, you have no voice.
Jason Maleski is a senior majoring in literature.