Our View: Hi-Line endorses Kerry for president

By Cyrus Mossavi 2005

In an unprecedented move for our paper, the Hi-Line has decided to endorse a candidate for president. We believe this is one of the most important elections in recent history and felt it was our duty to make a difference in its outcome.

The massive split between political parties that has developed in this country proves that others share this belief. But we also believe that this huge polarization of the country has led people to put emphasis on their candidate’s political party rather than the issues each candidate stands for.

This is especially true for teenagers, whose political beliefs may rely more on the influence of family and friends than their own ideals. In order to separate this unproductive marriage between parties and issues (because we also believe in the sanctity of marriage), the Hi-Line editorial staff used and innovative method for voting for the candidate we would endorse. Instead of a flat out vote for Bush or Kerry, which would have only shown what political party most of our editors sympathize with, we voted on individual issues.

First, we identified 17 of the most important issues in the election and each candidate’s position, using information from factcheck.org and cnn.com. But we didn’t put the candidate’s name by his position. It was like a presidential Pepsi challenge; our editors were forced to vote for the position, and not the parties, that they truly believed in.

The results were surprising. Of the 17 issues we voted on, Kerry won 15, and Bush won two. Editors who believed they were strongly Republican ended up voting for John Kerry in many categories when they voted only on issues. In light of our recent findings, the Tiger Hi-Line believes John Kerry is better suited to run this country because of his stance on the following topics:

Social Issues:
Bush’s policies on social issues have been far form uniform and at times entirely contradictory. A person who labels himself a compassionate conservative yet routinely denies the rights of those different from him in the name of God is not only merciless but morally deficient. Although Kerry is still a politician, his views on the death penalty, abortion and the rights of gay couples are more progressive and fall closer to the ideals of freedom and respect that this country was founded on. In the blind tests, our editorial staff sided with Kerry on all of the social issues mentioned above in addition to voting with Kerry on gun control, education and hate crime legislation.

Defense:
John Kerry won every single defense issue we voted on. Bush’s support of the multi-billion dollar missile defense “Star Wars” program in the midst of the largest deficit in the nation’s history shows that his promise of “fiscal responsibility” was meant in the loosest terms possible. But our editors also picked Kerry as the candidate better equipped to lead this country in a war. Perhaps it’s because we trust a person who defended America while fighting in Vietnam over a person who defended America while entrenched in Wyoming. Our editorial staff also sided with Kerry’s plans to recruit more service members and offer better pay and benefits to soldiers rather than Bush’s plan to add $380 billion to the military budget.

Environment:
Once again, Kerry walked away with the “W” on this one. But this is hardly surprising. It is hard to imagine anyone without strong ties to oil companies and/or a blind hatred of Alaska and bears voting to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The president’s dependence on the support of large factories and major car companies leaves him with no room or incentive to fight for cleaner air (opting for a market based solution) or conservation of fossil fuels (an energy policy that amounts to increasing, by a mere 1.5 miles per gallon, the fuel efficiency of SUVs by 2007). As far as the environment is concerned, we believe Kerry can do no worse than a president whose environmental policy was created with the advice of executives of huge companies rather than that of scientists and conservationists.

Health:
Bush’s two wins came in the health category. His intended move toward a privatized Social Security System, while potentially leaving some Americans without retirement money, is the best way to repair a flawed program for the majority of this country’s citizens. His plan to keep health care the way it is rather than providing more government funding, is also necessary with our current budget deficit.

Civil Liberties:
Perhaps the most frightening thing for young people in this country right now, beside the possibility of a draft, is the Patriot Act and encroachments of civil liberties another four years of Bush would entail. From labeling American citizens as “enemy combatants” to the infamous searching of citizens’ library records, no generation has so willfully given up so many civil liberties afforded by the Constitution in such a small amount of time. Kerry’s promise to let the Patriot Act expire is probably the largest step toward achieving the “normal lives” Bush vowed Americans would continue to lead after the Sept. 11 attacks.

We can’t tell what will happen in the future, but we definitely do know what George Bush has done in the past. It’s not pretty. We have taken the time to actually look into the issues to find the right candidate and forgo the biases our political affiliations impose.

As voters, it is your duty to do the same. In an election of this important, it is imperative that you do not vote along party lines or by what your friends’ T-shirts say but instead vote for the candidate you truly believe is best for this country in the long run.

The election cannot be about Democrats vs. Republicans vs. Ralph Nader. If you take the time to make an inquiry into your values, we think that like many of our conservative editors, you will surprise yourself.

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