Ability to change is a strength
September 21, 2004
As we slip from summer to fall, change is in the air.
Witness the farmer’s market at Telegraph Square, Saturdays through Oct. 2. The sherbet-colored nectarines are now eclipsed by blushing apples. The vegetable vendors are featuring winter squash, potatoes of all sizes and colors and the final baskets of berries. Even the flowers are anticipating the hard frost grand finale: Claret red straw flowers and exotic cascading seeded blooms clustered with egg yolk sunflowers signal the end of the growing season.
Bumper crop takes on new meaning this time of year – the stickers that adorn the backside of cars declaring passionate presidential preference.
Our country and our state are deeply divided about what kind of leader we need and want. Part of the decision that voters will make this fall revolves around the choice of leadership styles as much as the issues.
One reason I support John Kerry is that he has demonstrated the ability to change. His opponent seems fixed in concrete. Iraq is a good example of this. Having acted on incomplete information, the president barged into Iraq. The United States is now mired in an unwinnable war, trying to impose American values on Iraqi culture, sacrificing young people in the name of a misleading war on terror.
I first became excited about John Kerry as a presidential candidate when I learned that he had publicly changed his mind about the Vietnam War after he returned from combat.
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I want a leader who questions the direction that the country is going, and has the courage to make mid-course corrections. I want a leader who will build coalitions, communicate with allies, and work with other countries to forge alliances for the common good.
I want a leader who knows black from white but also understands that most decisions are in the realm of gray.
So does Diane Davis Santoriello, who expressed her political views in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette following the loss of her son, an Army officer who died in Iraq on Aug. 13.
“What constitutes good character? My father taught me that when you make a mistake the first thing you do is own up to it and the second thing you do is fix it. Bush made mistakes. Did he own up to them right away? No, he waited until recently and admitted to miscalculations.
“What Bush needed to do a year or more ago was to go the United Nations with his hat in his hand and say, ‘We made a mistake. We thought we were doing the right thing but now we have a mess that we can’t handle … .”
She concludes, “John Kerry knows that changing your position is not a character flaw but a character plus. I believe he is the only person capable of getting the rest of the world to help us clean up the mess created by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the administration’s other Iraq hawks.”
A Vietnam veteran friend of mine, well respected in our community, told me that John Kerry’s actions in testifying before Congress against the Vietnam War helped to turn the political tide against the war, and most likely resulted in an earlier release for American prisoners of war. If the war had not ended when it did, he contends, many of the prisoners of war would have been lost along with thousands more soldiers.
The choice this fall is about leadership, experience, on-the-job thinking, and the courage to change. I choose John Kerry.
Abby Johnson is a resident of Carson City. She consults on community development and nuclear waste issues. Her opinions are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her clients.