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a citizen’s journal by Thomas Nephew

Thank you, John Kerry

Posted by Thomas Nephew on November 5th, 2004

Cricket and I happened to be in the car together on Wednesday just as John Kerry made his concession speech:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. You just have no idea how warming and how generous that welcome is, your love is, your affection, and I’m gratified by it. I’m sorry that we got here a little bit late and a bit short. […]

I’m proud of what we stood for in this campaign, and of what we accomplished. When we began, no one thought it was possible to even make this a close race. But we stood for real change, change that would make a real difference in the life of our nation, the lives of our families. And we defined that choice to America.

When she stepped out of the car I was a little surprised to see Crickey had misted up. “I liked him,” she said simply. “I liked him a lot.”

Kerry grew on me, too. I’ve come to recognize him as one of the decent, smart, and tough people in politics today. And more than that, he ran a good race. He pulled ahead, he won his debates, he seemed to have momentum in the final days, he laid into Bush for the things he should have — Iraq, the economy, the war on terror. Maybe he and his pros shouldn’t have been blindsided by Christian ‘values’ voters the way I was. I actually thought Iraq and the war on terror were the top issues; shows how much I know.

Thank you, John Kerry. For fighting a good fight, for fighting it so well there was a decent shot at winning it, and for doing that with intelligence and dignity. Thanks for just having the guts to wage a campaign when it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Bush would win in a landslide. Thanks for having the stamina to continue to wage it confidently when the slime began to fly. Thanks for the pleasure of comparing you with Bush on the same stage, and thinking “wow — he really wouldn’t just be better, he’d be great.” If others criticize and carp, I’ll be having none of it. And for what it’s worth, I see a lot of people agree with that.*

Because Kerry proved there’s no point in giving up. Really, all the Democratic figures of the past year did that, and I hereby strongly applaud all of them: especially Howard Dean, John Edwards, and Wesley Clark, but Bob Graham, Al Sharpton, Carole Mosely-Braun, and Joe Lieberman as well. They all tried, and the way I see it John Kerry in particular left it all on the field. The least I can do is try a little more myself.

The first thing I’ll be doing is to pledge a regular contribution to the Democratic Party, the best institution for defending the political and, yes, the moral values I support, among which are respect for the Constitution and civil rights, tolerance, reason, and helping those who need it. I urge all Democrats and all Americans who read this to do the same.

I also plan to not just give the Democrats money, but also some volunteer time between elections, if only so I’m not so tongue-tied the time I head out on one of those canvassing buses. I almost regret that I don’t live in a “Red State.” I’m getting ready for 2006 and 2008 starting right now, and I hope you will, too.

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* Mark A.R. Kleimann, tactically, at least; Mark Schmitt unqualifiedly; Josh Marshall parenthetically, Rollins Teel straightforwardly. This list may be updated. The John Kerry button will eventually be redirected to the Democratic Party web site.

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