Water Man Spouts

Sunday, February 10, 2008


"No American, young or old, must ever be denied the right to dissent. No monirity must be muzzled. Opinion and protest are the life breath of democracy – even when it blows heavy.

"But I urge you never to dissent merely because someone asked you to or because someone else does. Please know what you protest. Know what it is you dissent from. And always try when you do disagree to offer a choice to the course that you disapprove. For dissent and protest must be the recourse of men who, in challenging the existing order, reason their way to a better order."
--President Lyndon B. Johnson; June 7, 1966

There comes a time when very generation is faced with choices between "change" and "more of the same." In 1960, the presidential election was between Senator John F. Kennedy, the candidate of change, and VP Richard Nixon, who defined "more of the same."

Four months after LBJ gave the speech quoted above, Senator Robert F. Kennedy delivered a speech at the Berkley campus of the University of California. It was highlighted in one of his official campaign publications two years later. The speech was titled, "We Dissent." Let me quote from it:

"It is not enough to allow dissent. We must demand it. For there is much to dissent from …We dissent from the fact that millions are trapped in povert while the nation grows rich. …. We dissent from the conditions and hatreds which deny a full life to our fellow citizens because of the color of their skin. …. We dissent from the monstrous absurdity of a world where nations stand poised to destroy one another, and men must kill their fellow men. ….We dissent from cities which blnt our senses and turn ordinary acts of daily life into a painful struggle. … We dissent from all these structures – of technology and of society itself – which strip from the individual the dignity and warmth of sharing in the common tasks of his community and his country." (October 22, 1966)

Kennedy offered the opportunity to change; Humphrey was viewed as "more of the same." And Humphrey lost to Nixon, because Humphrey was tied to errors of the Johnson administration.
In November, either Senator Hillary Clinton or Senator Barack Obama will probably be facing Senator John McCain. It will be an election in which the nation will have to decide to vote either for a democratic candidate of change, or for more of the same with John McCain.

Two of the most important issues that will be debated between either Clinton or Obama, and John McCain, will be the US foreign policy in the Middle East – including Iraq and Iran – and the role of the Constitution (specifically the Bill of Rights) in our modern society.

There have been numerous discussions about which democrat could best be viewed as the candidate of change in a contest against McCain, and which one will be viewed as more of the same. The issue of the congressional vote that allowed the administration to move forward with its invasion of Iraq has caused some dispute among democrats. Obama did speak out against the invasion; Clinton and McCain both voted for it.

The other issue that is worth our looking at is the need to repair the damage done to the Great Writ. Both Clinton and Obama have spoken about restoring habeas corpus. McCain is certain to be against that. However, in any debate, either a moderator or John McCain himself will be able to say that the first step in the dismantling of the Great Writ took place in 1996. President Clinton worked closely with conservative republicans to pass the
Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (also known as AEDPA) .
Senator Clinton speaks of her experience as First Lady as being part of what qualifies her to be President of the United States. Will she only want to roll back the damage President Bush has done to the Great Writ? Or will she recognize that it was only more of the same thing her husband had done, and be willing to roll back the damage President Clinton did, as well?

I think that Senator Barack Obama represents our party’s and our nation’s best chance for positive change. I think that he has done a better job of describing what it is he disagrees with from the Bush-Cheney administration, and has defined what positive course he would take to correct the damage that has been done to our society.


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