my friend lindsay wrote this letter to the my school's newspaper...you should read it!
October 14, 2004
I am currently studying and living in East Africa at the University of Dar es Salaam. Living abroad during an election year makes me privy to the rest of the world’s thoughts on our country and its candidates. I would like to share some insights I have gained about the United States from my current outside perspective.
Recently, I filled out and returned my absentee voter ballot- my first time voting in a presidential election. I sat at my desk for many minutes before finally marking the candidate I already knew I needed to choose. I am not a Democrat, but I voted for John Kerry anyway. There has been a lot of talk among American voters this year, particularly among those who are left-of-center, about the need to vote for Kerry because "a vote for Kerry is a vote against Bush." Or because in a two-party system in which the two mainstream parties are unnervingly similar, Kerry is the "lesser of two evils." Or because the Green Party isn’t a viable presidential option. Each of these thoughts has crossed my mind.
I considered the worth of voting for one man, not because I feel that he is good, but simply because he seems better than another man. However, perhaps sometimes that's all the reason that is needed. Just this morning, I was listening to BBC news coverage of the presidential debates. A Palestinian man interviewed said that Kerry is better than Bush because "there is no worse president than Bush. I want to see a change."
I voted for Kerry because he represents that change. In an article that appeared in both the UK edition of The Guardian and in the Tanzanian edition of The African, a journalist stated, "A Bush victory would suggest that given a choice between leading the world through force or through consensus… most of those who expressed a preference preferred force." John Kerry represents the possibility of a different American attitude towards the world.
Bush represents an America that feels it is above the international community, an American that is aggressive and violent, an America that does not believe in the existence of Palestine, an America that refuses to adequately fund AIDS programs, an America that wishes to unilaterally control the global economy according to its interests – at the expense of human life and dignity elsewhere. Is this really who we are? Are we really so greedy and ignorant, so materialistic? Are we so caught up in the frenzy of "patriotism" that we have decided to never again ask questions? To blind ourselves and continue to send our brothers and sisters across oceans to kill and be killed?
I think we are better than that. I hope John Kerry can be better than that. Maybe Kerry won’t change these things. We know Bush will not. Do not wallow in such naïve illusions that Bush’s aggression has somehow made us "safer." We are vulnerable to the seething frustration and anger of all those worldwide whose humanity and interests we have neglected. In a speech delivered late in September, Senator Edward M. Kennedy discussed the Iraq quagmire. He cautioned, "For every mistake we make, for every innocent Iraqi child we accidentally kill in another bombing raid, the ranks of the insurgents climb…"
He quoted an Army Reservist who said, "For every guerilla we kill with a ‘smart bomb’, we kill many more innocent civilians and create rage and anger… This rage and anger translates into more recruits for the terrorists…" Four more years of a Bush administration will only increase our enemies. As my Tanzanian friend Ochieng said so succinctly last week, "You cannot protect Americans by killing Iraqis." This statement rings true for any country that we wage war against, for any reasons. Do not be fooled. America is not "safer" under Bush, nor is national security really his priority.
So we come to John Kerry. Here is our chance to show a suspicious global audience that we have witnessed Bush’s mistakes, we have recognized his failures and we have elected to associate ourselves with a different ideology. Let’s vote for Kerry- and hold him accountable to a higher standard of American diplomacy. I will hope with all my might.
Salama (in peace),
Lindsay McRae Sumner ‘06
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania