The antiwar voters' dilemma


Geraldine Sealey
April 23, 2004 8:22PM (UTC)

It's not your fault if you're finding it hard to distinguish John Kerry's position on Iraq from George W. Bush's. Kerry is in an awkward position as he rails against the president's failed Iraq policy. Kerry voted for the Iraq resolution. Now he has to convince voters to accept his nuanced defense of the vote. I may have voted to go to war, Kerry says, but Bush misled us and didn't have a plan to handle the aftermath of the invasion. Now we have to clean up Bush's mess, with help from the United Nations.

That explanation -- while perfectly logical and acceptable -- is not necessarily helping him with the antiwar crowd. The Boston Globe talked to various progressive groups struggling to balance their conviction that the Iraq occupation must end with the slate of candidates before them. Ralph Nader wants to grab the antiwar bloc, telling the Globe Kerry's position on Iraq is "fuzzed" and "the exact position needed not to get any votes on the issue." Dennis Kucinich also has a strong antiwar message, and his continued presence in the campaign, presumably until the convention in Boston, puts pressure on Kerry and reminds many antiwar voters what makes them uncomfortable about the party's presumptive nominee.

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For antiwar voters, the question in November will be: Is a protest vote -- or no vote at all -- worth it? Ellen Malcolm, who heads the activist groups Emily's List and America Coming Together, thinks the answer to that question will be no. She told the Globe: "Most of the people I talk to are so upset with Bush on Iraq and other issues that they'll vote for Kerry." We shall see.


Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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