This message is for my old Upper Darby High School friends and classmates. Even if you didn’t know me, or if you didn’t like me, (or even if you didn’t go to Upper Darby High School!) this message is also for you. I hope that if this message means anything to you, that you will forward it on to others as well.
I want to talk to you about the important election this Tuesday.
If you are a die-hard supporter of John Kerry, then I have a few words for you at the bottom of this message – skip right to the bottom if you want.
If you actually signed a loyalty oath pledging your support to George W. Bush’s election campaign, you should just stop reading and close this window right now.
If you’ve made it this far, this message is for you.
I’ve posted this message on my web site, too: http://www.graphpaper.com/vote2004
I’m definitely going to vote on Tuesday!! I don’t care how long the line is, or if it’s raining, or if traffic is bad. I am writing to ask you to do the same. I don’t even live in a swing state, but you might: if you do, your vote is critical! I ask you to make sure that you vote, and that your friends and family vote, too.
And, most importantly, I am asking you to consider voting for John Kerry.
I moved to Pennsylvania’s northern neighbor New York when I graduated from Upper Darby High School, but I think of UD all the time and about how much UD was like the rest of America. Working class families and well-to-do families. Ethnic groups from everywhere. Rolling hills and urban row houses. A typical swing state township!
You’ve probably seen the news, watched the debates, watched the comedians on Saturday Night Live (starring UDHS’s own Tina Fey, UD’88!!), and heard the pundits on the radio. Both sides are saying strong things about each other, including more than a few lies and distortions. And the issues are incredibly complex.
But you have to choose a side and take a stand. I’ve taken my stand, and I hope you’ll forgive me for explaining why. I have chosen to support John Kerry because I think that he is the best candidate to lead our country out of the three biggest problems facing us today: the neglected war on terrorism, the uncertain Iraq War, and our still-sluggish economy.
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT TERRORISM?I sure am. My wife and I watched the horror of 9/11 with our own eyes from our Brooklyn rooftop. We shared the sadness and rage that the rest of America felt. We immediately supported the President in attacking the Taliban in Afghanistan. I’m not a violent guy, but we wanted Osama bin Laden “dead or alive”, too, preferably dead. When the troops had him cornered in Tora Bora, I was hoping we would decisively complete the punishment Al Qaeda deserved.
But here’s Osama now, on video tape, taunting us yet again, and trying to frighten us yet again. He looks healthy and confident. The international Al Qaeda operation is apparently still functioning quite well.
Bush talks a lot about how he’ll go after the terrorists before they strike, no matter where they are. But he simply hasn’t done it. Since 9/11, there have been *MAJOR* Al Qaeda-related terrorist attacks in Egypt, Morocco, the Phillipines, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Indonesia, Spain, and Russia. Terrorists are still out there, in great numbers, still doing their evil work. But we haven’t sent any counter-terrorist troops to those countries to help uncover the terrorists who are obviously there. We haven’t attacked the many known terrorist camps in Sudan, Indonesia, or anywhere else, not even with a single cruise missle or an airstrike. Even the job in Afghanistan seems to be on hold.
And our shipping ports, airports, and borders are barely any more secure today than they were three years ago.
John Kerry will pursue the terrorists anywhere they hide. He will work with foreign governments to hunt terrorists in countries where we know they are, with increased special counter-terrorist forces dedicated to that task. He will reinvigorate the hunt for Osama bin Laden. And he will focus intently on securing our ports and borders.
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT IRAQ?I am deeply concerned about Iraq. I am concerned about how we got there in the first place, and I am concerned about what we are going to do now.
Before America’s invasion of Iraq, the biggest question on my mind was “What if Iraq has massive WMD stockpiles, or even a nuclear weapon? What if they give them to terrorists, or what if terrorists steal them?”
It was only a year after 9/11. We had a lot to be concerned about. Saddam had managed to evade inspections for four years – how could we know what he had in his posession? I supported threatening Saddam with massive military force to get him to comply with the resolutions. So did John Kerry, for the exact same reasons. I trusted the President and his team when they all repeatedly said that there was “no doubt whatsoever” that Saddam had WMD programs. I trusted the President when he said the objective was to get Saddam to submit to inspections and to disarm his WMDs.
And Bush succeeded. In March 2003, President Bush succeeded in getting Saddam to back down and in getting weapons inspectors back into Iraq, in greater numbers than ever before. And, surprisingly, for several weeks the inspectors found nothing, even in all the places where the Bush Administration said there were WMDs. So instead of allowing the inspections to continue, Bush cancelled the whole thing and ordered our troops to invade Iraq.
Like most Americans, I prayed for a rapid victory. I didn’t believe that the Iraqis would, as Cheney said overconfidently, greet us with flowers and parades. But I knew that the American military would defeat Saddam’s forces. And for a while, victory seemed certain.
But then things got tough again. Our troops are now being attacked by insurgents at least 80 times a day by weapons and explosives that should have been secured. Why did the Administration only send a THIRD as many troops as were sent in 1991 for the Persian Gulf War? Why did they order the troops to secure oil refineries instead of Saddam’s weapons storage bunkers? Why didn’t the President follow Colin Powell’s famous advice to only attack with (a) a clear objective, (b) a clear exit strategy, (c) overwhelming force, and (d) overwhelming American public support. Bush’s Iraq War fails on all four of these counts!
Now we know that the WMDs were not there. We also know that Bush himself was only guessing that the WMDs were there, that in fact he had many reasons to doubt there were any WMDs, but he didn’t tell us about that part.
John Kerry understands how important it is that our governement is honest with the American people. He has the judgement to know when the right time to go to war is. John Kerry understands what our troops are going through on the ground because he’s been one of them. And John Kerry understands the importance of our international allies, countries who still look up to America but who have been cast aside by this President. John Kerry won’t be tricked by foreign agents promising that a battle or war will be easy. John Kerry won’t disregard his generals when they ask for more troops. We need a new direction in Iraq, badly. I believe that John Kerry will continue the strategies that are working in Iraq, and will throw away the strategies that are not working.
ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THE ECONOMY?Hell yeah, more than ever in my life. I started a small business (a web design firm) right after 9/11. Business is okay, but I’ll be honest with you, it’s not getting any better. Even as a business owner, I am making less money now than I have made in a decade. As a businessperson who supports my staff with healthcare, I see healthcare costs rising by double-digit rates in each of three years we’ve been in business. I’ve seen clients downsize and even go out of business, which in turn directly hurts my business. This recession has been *way* worse, and *way* longer than the 1991 recesssion under Bush’s father.
This is the first president since the Great Depression to have fewer jobs at the end of his four-year term than when he started. And the few new jobs that are happening now pay far less than the jobs they are replacing. Even the stock market is still down.
The Iraq war’s price tag is going to exceed $200 billion dollars (they’re saving the cost announcement until after the election!). The war on terrorism isn’t getting the funding it needs for domestic security and aggressive pursuit of the terrorists.
And Bush still wants to give massive tax cuts to the ultra-rich? Listen, I also received the Bush tax. It was a nice little bonus, but frankly it didn’t make up for the crummy economy we live in.
The deficit is higher than EVER, and wasteful government spending is careening out of control. George Bush has never vetoed a single bill. Every single bill that ends up on his desk, he signs. If you are a fiscal conservative who thinks government should be lean and mean, you have no excuse for voting for George Bush.
John Kerry will manage our economy responsibly. Like Bill Clinton, he will make fiscal conservatism his focus without risky schemes like privatising Social Security and Medicare. He will veto wasteful pork spending bills from the Republican-controlled Congress. His health care plan is awesome: if you don’t want to participate, you can keep your current plan.
OKAY, THAT’S ENOUGH!I could go on and on, I guess. My point is simple: it’s time for a change. The Bush Administration has had far too many failures to justify their re-election. We cannot afford more of these mistakes and failures. Kerry is ready to assume command and to bring our country back together again. The choice is yours.
I sincerely thank you for your time, and I hope that, regardless of your decision, you go out and vote this Tuesday.
PS: MESSAGE FOR JOHN KERRY SUPPORTERS:First, make sure you vote and that you encourage other Kerry supporters to vote! Please forward this email to other Upper Darby alumni, too, since I don’t have a lot of email addresses. Bush supporters are patriotic Americans just like you and me. They love their country as much as we do. I urge you to talk to your friends and family who are supporting Bush with respect, and to treat them with dignity. Let them express their views, and express yours as well. Argue your point with vigor and conviction, but don’t attack each other. The election will be close, and no matter who wins we will need to bring our country together again to face our enemies abroad and our challenges here at home. Have faith!