When just being against something isn’t enough

Hearing the Democrats over the last year, one might get the impression the election is a forgone conclusion and the General Services Administration should already be handing over the keys to the White House to the Kerry campaign. According to them, President Bush is so unpopular that all they had to do was offer up a warm body and we can all just stick a fork in it…game over! Unfortunately for the Democrats, they didn’t offer up a warm body…they offered up a dead one.

For a guy that’s supposed to be the end all of Presidential prowess, Kerry has yet to make anyone breathe hard. With the primary criteria to be President now being measured by the command of a small boat on a river, this should have been a walk in the park for him. Now Bush is ahead in a variety of polls. It’s not the kind of lead that makes a landslide, but with such a controversial entry into office, being ahead at all is quite an accomplishment. So what’s Kerry’s problem? It’s actually quite simple: he’s given you no reason to vote for him. Numerous polls show overwhelmingly that those who identify themselves as voting for Kerry are doing so not because they think Kerry is a great guy, but because they’re anti-Bush. Democrats and some liberals on this campus thought that this was all they were going to need, and lo and behold they’re quickly finding out it’s not working.

Voters want a reason to vote for something, not just a reason to vote against it. True enough, in a contested race a challenger has to show cause as to why the incumbent needs to go, but more so he or she needs to tell you why he is a better choice. Kerry has failed to do this and to an almost insurmountable extent he has allowed the Bush campaign to define him. Consider this: at the Republican Convention we did hear why Kerry was a bad choice, but overwhelmingly we heard why Bush was better. Contrast that with the Democrat’s pow-wow in Boston -four days of “Bush is the epitome of evil.” Nothing about why Kerry would be better on his own merit, and this was the place where that case was supposed to be made.

As I said here last spring, the essence of Kerry’s campaign is “Bush Sucks; I’m not Bush; Vote for me”. Of course now we can add, “Bush sucks; I’m not Bush; My wife is unstable; and oh and by the way, did you know I was in Vietnam?; oh yeah… vote for me.” I’m certainly inspired.

Scott Wacholtz can be contacted at s.wacholtz@umiami.edu.