Monday, August 02, 2004

The danger of John F. Kerry

For about 3 ½ seconds, I liked John Kerry. It was an MTV special, and he was fielding various questions from college kids. Everyone had his own request: “What about health care?” “How can you help with my college loans?” “I’m gay; what rights do I have?” And each question followed with a sincere, personal promise. It started to feel like Santa Kerry could work some Christmas magic on anyone’s wish list, and I actually found myself thinking, “What would I ask him for, if I had a slot? What could the President do for me?” That’s when the realization hit me. This is not my birthday; it’s an election. Somehow we seem to have drifted from the ideal of the other J.F.K., who said, “Ask not what your country can do for you…” This year’s election, more than ever, has the possibility of utilizing the ever-enticing appeal to personal rights, needs, wants. Two things bother me in light of this. The first is the rather obvious fact that a politician, or a country, that promises everything to everybody will miserably and dangerously fail. People-pleasing may work in high school, but it’s no way to run a country. But I think what troubles me most about this tactic is that it just might work. Values, unlike birthday presents, are sometimes difficult, often annoying, and not always appealing. Values - true, specific stances on actual issues - don’t always sell. I know I was lucky enough to snap back into reality while listening to Kerry. My fear is that America may not.