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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, October 19, 2004

It's time for change: Kerry has our vote

The Honolulu Advertiser endorses the Democratic team of John Kerry and John Edwards for president and vice president of the United States.

In a time of great tension and conflict abroad and daunting economic and social problems at home, Kerry brings the right combination of intelligence, experience, sincerity and passion to lead the country for the next four years.

Early in the campaign, there were concerns that Kerry was too cautious, too careful with his statements and positions to discern a clear vision for the next four years.

Such concerns have been largely dispelled during the three presidential debates.

Kerry has been sharp on the issues, clear on his stand on difficult matters such as the war in Iraq and resolute on his domestic agenda.

There's no doubt that Sept. 11 fundamentally changed the calculus on foreign policy. In the wake of the attacks on America, steely determination to defend the country became the order of the day. And Bush did just that, rallying this country after the attacks in a way that left no doubt that Americans stood united. His decision to go after al-Qaida and its hosts in Afghanistan was the right thing to do.

But as the weeks unfolded, what emerged was a unilateralist foreign policy guided by neo-conservatives in the Bush administration that willfully followed a wayward political agenda in the face of international opinion and, frankly, good sense.

It is clear that the decision to go to war in Iraq was based on a conviction that the United States can and should use its military might, unilaterally, whenever and wherever it feels threatened. That is dangerous policy in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world.

While John Kerry may make too much of his Vietnam experience, we believe that this former Navy officer and prosecutor will fight for the safety and well-being of Americans, at home and abroad, in the right way, at the right time.

Kerry has been crystal-clear that while he believes Iraq was the wrong war at the wrong time, he is determined now to see it through. The world should understand that a change in leadership does not reflect any loss of America's resolve.

Domestically, the Bush administration has been anti-progressive, resistant to social progress and — in the case of homeland security — almost willfully dismissive of basic civil rights. The USA Patriot Act, in theory a reasonable response to domestic security dangers, threatens to become an open-ended assault on our civil liberties.

On issues of a woman's right to choose, embryonic stem cell research, environmental protection, we believe John Kerry is clearly in step with the majority of Americans and certainly the majority in Hawai'i.

We are not yet convinced that Kerry's proposals to expand healthcare, offer a wide variety of new social programs and offer tax breaks to the low and middle classes can be paid for by higher taxes on the richest 2 percent of Americans.

But the Massachusetts senator is far from the "tax and spend" liberal his opponents would have you believe. For instance, in 1985 he broke with his party to support a balanced-budget amendment and insists today on a pay-as-you-go policy for the government.

We also know, from the record, that President Bush's fiscal policies (with the hearty support of Congress) have been irresponsible. Spending is up (even not counting our defense needs), and a series of tax cuts benefitting mostly the wealthiest among us threatens to drive the national debt into the stratosphere.

It is time to vote for John Kerry and John Edwards.