An Open Letter to John Kerry
Dear Senator Kerry,
It is risky to predict, but it looks like you will probably become the next President of the United States. Could you possibly have predicted that, when you came home determined to tell the truth about the Vietnam War, whatever the cost? There is another war to tell the truth about, now, and I am one of millions upon millions of United States citizens who hopes -- probably against hope -- that you will not squander this opportunity.
Your most prominent TV ad tells us that we are the "can-do people" and that "we just have to believe in ourselves again." That's a good message, but just saying it won't make it so. There are concrete steps that you must take.
- Withdraw United States troops immediately from Iraq. Don't wait until teams of advisors can vet an exit strategy: end the madness the very day you are sworn into office. We are spending over a billion dollars a week pursuing this senseless and immoral folly; half of that would be a prudent and effective investment in public goods for the newly independent Iraq. If it seems that we would leave political chaos behind us, we should have the courage to admit that it was mainly our doing, having propped up Saddam Hussein at vital points in his career -- including rewarding him with massive shipments of food, replacing what would have been grown by the people he killed with nerve gas.
Our blundering arrogance and hubris has left the US without even a bad choice in Iraq: our objectives, even if they might have been worth pursuing in the first place, cannot now be achieved. Our troops don't know their mission, and are seen (unjustly, in most cases) as sadistic criminals. Bring them home.
- Find the truth about September 11, 2001. There has been a whitewash commission. The testimony of the POTUS and VPOTUS tag-team will not be released (despite its being characterized as "cordial" and "productive"). The story of the most important day in modern history, the "Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century", has not been told. What we have been told about the events of that day is riddled with blatant distortions and contradictions. It is painfully clear that we have been lied to about the event that created, in the minds of the people and the councils of the government, the "War on Terror". How can we ever "believe in ourselves again", unless we get the full truth about 9-11 -- whatever it might be?
- Get serious about electoral reform. This is a tough one. All the most entrenched legislative incumbents and corporate lobbyists will have their biggest guns trained on you. It is probably not a fight you could win, but it is vital to the survival of a United States of America that has any meaning at all -- and it is a process that you can begin. Let's get rid of Congressional gerrymandering. Let's bring in instant runoff voting. Let's institute automatic voter registration for everyone with a Social Security number. Let's make sure there is a transparent method for recording, on paper, every ballot in every election. Call for it from day one, and you will be seen as a statesman of the very highest order.
- Inspire the nation to deal with energy policy. "We choose to go to the moon," said President Kennedy, "not because it is easy, but because it is hard." Articulate an audacious vision for our nation. Instead of Bush's insane and ill-considered Mars initiative, challenge this nation to achieve an Apollo Program to meet its most urgent need: our addiction to dirty, scarce fuel. Create a national energy agenda; give it the most ambitious goal that your bravest experts think it could possibly meet.
Remember that when this country committed itself to landing people on the moon, most of the needed technology had not yet been created. Ask the American people to work together to achieve a great thing: to end, in a decade's time, all imports of oil, while simultaneously increasing per capita GDP and reducing greenhouse emissions below current levels.
There are lots of other things that I am tempted to ask for (I would like to share some notions about tax policy, for example), but these four will do for starters. They are utterly vital, and they are bi-partisan. They will make you a Great President, and they will turn the United States aside from disaster.
Please realize that I'm not so starry-eyed as to think you will do any of these things. Nevertheless, I will cast my vote for you in the upcoming presidential election, because I believe that the current administration is malignant and dangerous. The "ABB" vote is a large force, this year. It's likely that you will yield to the temptation to take it for granted. But the stakes are very, very high, and I hope you will stop and think, and do what's right.
Lindy Davies is the Program Director of the Henry George Institute.
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