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Charles Kopp - Contributor

Charles Kopp is a graduate of the New School for Social Research. He is a composer and musician, and an ardent lover of poetry. He has been a teacher and a systems analyst. In Lafayette, California, he now designs websites and works on creative projects. He can be contacted at [go to Kopp index]

The Decline and Fall of the Democratic Party
Lesser sons of greater fathers ...
[Charles Kopp] 8/9/04

In John Kerry, we have a candidate for President whose positions on issues change daily, as he makes shameless attempts to please whomever he is speaking to at the moment. He views the Israeli wall as an obstacle to peace, when he’s speaking to Arab Americans. He views it as justified self defense, when he’s speaking to Jewish Americans.

What does he really believe, when he is alone with his own thoughts? God only knows. What would he actually do if he were President? It depends which way the wind blows. Whether you agreed with John Fitzgerald Kennedy or not, he did have some beliefs and some definite policies.

This is not about 'nuance.' There is scarcely any issue upon which Kerry has not attempted to insinuate his support for both sides. Most crucially, John Kerry cannot clearly say one way or the other, whether our conflict with terrorists is a war or a legal matter.

Indeed, at the Democratic Convention a few weeks ago, many of the gathered Democrats are supporting Kerry as a candidate exactly because they do not believe he will keep the promises he is making to the television cameras. He claims before the nation that he opposes gay marriage, for example, a claim which no person supporting him actually believes. He claims a life-long interest in a strong national defense, another claim which even his own precinct volunteers do not believe.

So we descend to this spectacle, in which the most liberal member of the Senate and the fourth most liberal campaign, presenting themselves as mainstream Americans, strong on military issues, conservative on fiscal issues, full of deep (though unspecified) values, with a secret plan to handle Iraq and terrorism cheaply, quickly, and easily. At some point playing politics, by playing charades, passes by the humorous, passes by the ridiculous, and passes finally to the disgraceful, like a lonely drunk too many hours on the barstool.

Indeed, Kerry asks us to accept this startling new edition of himself, based upon his supposed heroism in Vietnam. But by his own testimony, implicating himself and all his fellow servicemen, he did not perform heroic service, but quite totally to the contrary, committed crimes against humanity. Is our capacity as a people to judge character so completely bereft, that such complete contradictions can be endured? By voters? By those who pretend the profession of journalism?

That a major national political party would put forward a man with such a fundamental lack of clarity -- both in his political life and personal history -- should have taken our breath away, if we had not little by little lowered our standards as a republic so egregiously. His vote against a military response in 1991, when Iraq had already invaded Kuwait, while the rape of Kuwait City was in progress, while vital American interests were being impacted -- this one vote should have forever closed the door to national office to John Kerry.

John Edwards is little better. With him, we have a trial lawyer who has made himself very rich, and a few individuals somewhat better off, but at what cost? He and others like him are at the very heart of what is wrong with our medical system. It is you and I who paid the insurance premiums that made John Edwards a rich man. It is because of John Edwards that Americans pay more for medical care than any other people on earth. How can any serious person propose that John Edwards will help the situation as Vice President?

What a comedown for a once-noble party. Who can answer: Exactly what are the great ideas of this Democratic Party of today? Where is the New Frontier? Where are the profiles in courage, the confrontation with hard choices, the calls to sacrifice and service? You do not hear Democrats today demanding that we ask what we can do for our country.

Things are quite the opposite now; it is the party of easy answers and getting things from our country. Environmental concerns and manufacturing jobs will never force us to make difficult decisions in this fantasy world; everything will be win-win. When talking to the workers, or when talking to gatherings of environmentalists, the stump speech changes a little, but the answers always sound easy.

The party that once had Roosevelt and John Kennedy, that advanced noble causes like racial justice and anti-communism -- surely no fair minded person can imagine that the Democratic Party today is the equal of those times. The change has crept along day by day, or we would all be shocked at sight of a party fallen to lesser men and lesser ideas.

Compare the left of those days with present leadership. Remember the dignity and inspiration of Martin Luther King Jr., and compare it for a moment to Al Sharpton. Remember Robert Frost reading a poem at the 1960 Inauguration, and think of Michael Moore. For the good of our country, I hope some Democrats will try to return their party to those who mean what they say, who have some real ideas and some inner strength.

That the Democratic Party has descended through several decades, to the point of nominating such candidates and making such arguments, is a shame upon that Party which sincere Democrats must face honestly and seek to redress. That such candidates' polls rank about even with the President's is a national disgrace, and reflects badly on our character as a people, on our education systems, and on our journalists.

It is a dishonor that we as a people have even come to contemplate these men and their ideas. In Kerry and Edwards, we have already elevated two men who are both worse than average men, to national prominence. If we go on to elect them, to whom can we complain? CRO

copyright 2004 Charles Kopp



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