Socialist Worker

How John Kerry let the Republicans back in

by Mumia Abu Jamal
Issue No. 1928

The election of 2004 is now history. In a stunning victory, Republican George W Bush prevailed handily over his Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry.

There are many keys that locked up the election for Bush, but one of them certainly must be Kerry himself, for a central plank of his platform was essentially to out-Bush Bush.

When Bush sounded a bellicose or warlike theme Kerry went one better, and the heart of his run was to hark back to his glory days in Vietnam.

Remember him standing there, saluting to the swelling throng of wellwishers at the Democratic National Convention, “Reporting for duty”?

Using those notorious 527s, the GOP launched a missile right at the heart of Kerry’s glory story—the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth—and the rest, as they say, is history.

They cut out the heart of his warrior legend, and planted the seeds of doubt in the minds of millions.


There are reports of vote tampering and the like in both Florida and Ohio, but for all intents and purposes it’s a wrap.

If both Bush and Kerry were hawkish on the war, why should people choose anybody other than the president?

The massive anti-war constituency, those millions who swelled the streets of every major city in the nation in February 2003, had nowhere to go.

Those who dissented from Bush’s trumped-up reasons for war may in good conscience continue their dissent. None other than the great Henry David Thoreau, who went to jail back in the 19th century rather than pay the poll tax, took a dim view of voting:

“All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions—and betting naturally accompanies it.

“The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right—but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority.

“Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail.

“A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men.”

The election is history. Perhaps by January we’ll see people gearing up for 2008. The Democrats, in their race to the middle-right, have left their left flank unguarded.

By running like quasi-Republicans they have given people little more than pale imitations of their opponents to vote for.

And while, according to reports, this election drew out the highest percentage since 1968, there are still millions, tens of millions, perhaps as many as 50 million people, who found no reason to even participate.

If people are to vote, shouldn’t they at least vote for something that they actually believe in?

Shouldn’t they at least have that opportunity in a nation that claims fealty to democracy? No longer can multiples of millions be expected to be inspired to cast their lot with “the lesser evil”.

No longer should they be called to support the party when the party betrays them daily, only to call upon them in times of need.

Millions of blacks stood in lines across the country to vote, for the most part, for a candidate who promised them nothing but the honour of sending their kids to Iraq, to fight for empire “smartly”.

Millions were exhorted by their preachers and politicians to “Vote or die” when the truth actually was closer to “Vote and die”, for no matter who won, the real vote was for more war.

This wretched war will go on, fuelled by the fury of George W Bush. What next? Iran? North Korea? Jordan? Colombia? The possibilities are almost endless.

The majority, gripped in the talons of fear, have voted for more. And more they shall have.

Mumia is a former member of the Black Panther Party in the US. He was falsely accused of killing a police officer and has been on death row since 1982.

Copyright Mumia Abu Jamal 2004

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Sat 20 Nov 2004, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1928
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