To the Earth Island Journal


Unfair to Kerry?
Chris Clarke is right to suggest that “Red-state voters face environmental threats” (“Bushed Again,” Spring 2005 EIJ) but he’s dead wrong when he suggests that John Kerry “assiduously avoided statements on such crucial issues.” Mr. Clarke argues with no evidence that the “Democratic process” “involved rejecting any candidate likely to take a consistent stand on anything other than not being Bush.”

Huh? Not only did the Democratic Party choose the nominee with far and away the strongest environmental record of any candidate, but John Kerry campaigned on the environment in red states – challenging the old conventional wisdom that caused past nominees to run away from the issue. In Louisiana, John Kerry stood on the banks of the Mississippi River with environmental leaders and focused on coastal erosion. In Florida, Kerry unveiled his Everglades proposal, and advertised on mercury poisoning. There was a plan to clean up Great Lakes pollution in Michigan and a fuel efficiency proposal that took guts to talk about in Detroit. In Iowa, Kerry laid out a plan to control runoff from factory farms and talked honestly about hog lots. Kerry went to Arizona to unveil a national parks proposal. He toured the west with a real alternative to George Bush’s oxymoronic “Healthy Forest” scheme, and in New Mexico, Kerry called for the protection of Otero Mesa. He campaigned on clean coal in West Virginia. The campaign advertised and Kerry campaigned hard on the issue of Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

John Kerry didn’t talk about the environment in red states? In New Hampshire, Kerry used “green” issues to help turn the state from “red” to “blue” – holding numerous events on MTBE poisoning. Good grief, Kerry even gave his Earth Day address in Texas – in George Bush’s backyard, where the environmental threats are clear and undeniable.

Yes, we need to put the environment on the front burner of national issues again – but we won’t get there by falsely attacking a Democratic nominee who campaigned on the environment everywhere he went.
David Wade
Former Press Secretary
John Kerry for President

Chris Clarke replies: Perhaps I should have used a word other than “assiduously.” It’s true that Kerry has as good an environmental record as anyone in the Senate; he has consistently spoken out against environmentally destructive bills in Congress. I’m pleased to hear that the Senator made all those green campaign speeches.

And yet the fact remains: For those of us not actually in attendance at those speeches, the level of mention of the environment during the campaign – aside from Kerry’s stellar rhetorical assault on Bush environmental policy at that one debate – was pretty much limited to tepid mainstream media coverage of destructive Bush administration policies.

So why didn’t Kerry’s great record in the Senate, or the mention of local issues at stump speeches, make a dent in coverage of the campaign? Partly due to the increasing oligarchic nature of the mainstream media we’ve all heard decried time and time again… though not in the mainstream media, of course. But part of the responsibility lies at the feet of the Kerry campaign, which rather than forefronting Kerry’s alignment with 75 percent of the electorate on green issues, seemed to reel from blow to Roveian blow.

And on a larger scale, who can deny that the emphasis on “electability” before the primary favored candidates without strong perceived positions on the issues?

I did not intend “attacks on a candidate,” and you folks on the Senator’s campaign staff deserve our thanks for fighting the good fight. I did and still do intend to criticize campaign strategies that don’t work. We have to if we’re going to stop the onslaught of destruction between now and 2008.

Lonely activist
I tried to get people into trying to help animals, but nothing worked. Not even my mother would listen to me. Everybody at my school thinks I’m a freak so they won’t listen. I tried everything! Our teacher showed us a movie about what’s happening, but they just think it’s funny. I’m in the sixth grade. I’m 11 years old. I can’t do anything about what’s happening and I don’t know what to do. I really can use your help. I hope you are doing everything you can to help the animals in the wild.
Susana Villarreal

Don’t give up! Most people who work for the planet have felt like they’re all alone at times. It can be difficult! But you will meet people who you can work with. There may be another student in your school who agrees with you but is afraid to speak up. Just keep up the fight, and study biology and English and history: They’ll help you learn how to help the animals. And stay in touch!

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