Sobran's -- The Real News of the Month

 Kerry: In Search 
Of Excitement

July 8, 2004 
This is a great country. It has a huge Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.talent pool of gifted people with original minds. I’m awed by it every time I browse at Borders Book Store: so much to choose from!

So why do our presidential options come down to a pair of men like George W. Bush and John Kerry? Is our political system designed to filter out better, more interesting choices? It would appear so.

Thanks to UHF and cable TV, we no longer have to choose among three networks. Borders offers an infinite selection of books. Even at McDonald’s, we have other options besides hamburgers and cheeseburgers — fish and chicken sandwiches, salads, and so on.

But in politics, it’s the same old menu: a Republican hack or a Democratic hack. And we are told that our two-party system is the glory of democracy. Other countries should be so blessed. Multiparty democracies, where people may actually get to vote for the candidates they prefer, are deemed “chaotic.”

Both major parties aim at blandness in selecting their presidential candidates. A mildly explosive Howard Dean must yield to an “electable” John Kerry; even Ronald Reagan was once thought “too extreme.” A third-party candidate who threatens to upset the balance between the Big Two is considered a “spoiler.” Oh, all right, Ralph Nader has the right to run for president, but it’s just a technical legal right that he shouldn’t actually exercise. He’s being “irresponsible.”

So in the two-party system, the quest is not for the guy you really want, but for the guy you think most of the electorate will settle for, even if they don’t really want him either. It’s like my pet definition of public opinion: what everyone thinks everyone else thinks.

In a system dedicated to the proposition that all “responsible” candidates must be colorless and unprincipled, it doesn’t take much to get the pundits excited. Kerry himself did it last winter by emerging as the most “electable,” if least inspiring, Democrat. Now Kerry has caused another media frenzy by picking John Edwards as his running mate.

[Breaker quote: It will take more than Edwards.]Only in a system where ennui is the norm could a political nobody like Edwards cause pulses to race. What is his record? What does he stand for? No matter. The pollsters are already asking the public for reactions to his selection.

The pundit chorus sees Edwards as balancing the Kerry ticket. Since his brief voting record is nearly as liberal as Kerry’s, it’s hard to see how. Because he’s a Southerner? He’s barely known outside North Carolina, where he’s still a newcomer anyway; he won’t be able to deliver the Republican South, where George W. Bush is popular, to the Democrats’ column.

True, he’s not from Massachusetts, and nobody would call him a Brahmin; as he keeps repeating, his father was a humble millworker, a fact that is supposed to give him a populist pedigree. He’s younger and better-looking than Kerry, who vaguely reminds you of Boris Karloff. And they say he’s a good campaigner, rousing crowds with the same tear-jerking skills he perfected in the courtroom as a trial lawyer.

It’s to Kerry’s credit that he has realized he needs a running mate who is less boring than he is. If you come across as an old reptile, maybe it’s not a bad idea to balance the ticket with a young mammal. That American politics has become the ugly sister of the entertainment industry is now a commonplace. Kerry is doing his best just to keep the audience awake.

Of course he won’t go to the desperate extremity of offering a message. Each party wants you to think the other party is very bad, while minimizing any substantive difference with it. If Kerry can be said to have any campaign theme at all, it’s that he would administer the Bush agenda more competently than Bush does.

At least Bush has a theme: We’re winning the war on terrorism, your taxes are lower, and the economy is fine. You may not believe it, but you know what it is. Kerry sounds like a sore-headed nitpicker whining about “tax cuts for the rich” and “corporate interests.”

As long as Dick Cheney’s pacemaker holds out, we’re in for a very dull campaign.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2004 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate

small Griffin logo
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address:

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer
Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRANS home page.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 


SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

Reprinted with permission
This page is copyright © 2004 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.