© 2003, Pro-Youth Pages
John Kerry's Double-Standard
John Kerry, seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, has vowed that if he is elected, he will make some big changes. What will be his top priority?
"My aim," he says, "is nothing less than to make national service a way of life for each new generation of Americans."
Kerry has put forward a plan to make every high school student in America do unpaid work unless they drop out of school. As detailed elsewhere on this website, such forced, unpaid child labor hurts America's economy and steps on the dignity of every young person forced to participate.
Kerry says it is important for all teenagers to pitch in, to sweep streets and change bedpans and do other important "national service." He has a plan to involve retirees in this as well. His plan, though, treats the elderly differently than it treats youth. Kerry's plan would not force the elderly to work for free. Instead, John Kerry would offer the elderly cash payments to do this "national service," and he would give them the option not to participate. There would be no penalty for seniors who chose not to do this work.
Why the double-standard, John? Why not offer high schoolers money to do your "national service," and make their participation voluntary as you would for the elderly? Why treat every teenager in America like someone convicted of a crime, sentencing them to this community service?
We have a word for forced, unpaid labor: slavery. John Kerry's plan to impose this on the entire nation is the worst decision an American leader has made since the Supreme Court issued its Dred Scott decision.
As long as John Kerry offers this as his top campaign promise, Americans who believe in freedom and human dignity must work to insure that Kerry's campaign fails.
What You Can Do
- Vote against Kerry in the Democratic Party primary. If he somehow wins the Party's nomination for president, vote against him in November as well. If you are not yet registered to vote, open your phone book, call your county registrar of voters, and find out how to register. To vote against Kerry in your state's Democratic Party primary, you may need to register yourself as a Democrat (you can always change your party later). And remember, you don't need to be 18 to register, as long as your 18th birthday is on or before the next election. In most states, you need to register a certain number of days before the election, so do it today!
If you will not be 18 on election day, you may feel tempted to lie on the voter registration form and vote anyway. This is unlawful. If you get caught, you might be arrested like Susan B. Anthony.
- Campaign for Kerry's best opponent. If you are not legally qualified to vote for his best opponent, you can still volunteer to help with that candidate's campaign. So for the Democratic primary, pick your favorite Democratic candidate and contact his/her campaign office to find the nearest place where you can volunteer your time.
- Contact John Kerry's campaign and let them know how you feel about this campaign "promise" (or should we call it a "threat"?). As always, try to be polite; but make it clear you will support Kerry's defeat if he does not change his plan. You can contact the Kerry campaign at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his website at http://www.johnkerry.net/contact/.
Update January 30, 2004:
Sen. John Edwards, another Democrat running for president, did not flaunt this the way Kerry did, but Edwards, too, supports forced child labor. In fact, he introduced legislation to set aside some education funds and only give this money to states if they agree to sentence all students to community service (unless the students drop out before graduating).
Update May 6, 2004:
Kerry has responded to our consciousness-raising efforts by, yes, redesigning his website. Above, we had a link to his plan for involuntary servitude at http://www.johnkerry.com/issues/natservice. Kerry redesigned his site so this URL would now bring up a plan of his to encourage voluntary volunteer service. Naturally, this confused some of our website's visitors when they followed our link. Some thought we had misread Kerry's plan. Others thought Kerry had finally found his conscience and changed his position.
Nope. None of the above. Kerry just moved his threat to another part of his site where he can direct bigots while hiding it from our visitors. His threat against American youth is now found at http://www.johnkerry.com/issues/100days/communityservice_high.html.
We'll try to stay on top of any more misdirections Kerry throws us. If you catch one, let us know.
Update August 6, 2004:
John Kerry's campaign website has finally taken down their threat to require community service from youth. Kerry has not apologized for making this threat in the first place, nor has he assured us he won't do it if given the chance. But the fact that he's removed it from the website means he has gotten the message this sort of threat will not attract American voters so much as it will drive them away.
Kerry is still showing no willingness to support young Americans. Indeed, his website still proclaims threats against America's youth. Kerry pledges, for example, to support states that take driver's licenses away from youth who legally drop out of bad schools. (Talk about flip-flopping! First he vows to punish youth who graduate high school, now he vows to punish youth who drop out.)
Kerry also wants to "offer" college students an "opportunity" to do two years of community service in return for college funding. The government used to offer college for free or close to it. (At least they did here in California.) It's in the nation's best interest to have an educated population. If students were willing to give up four years of full time pay and spend their time studying instead of working, the government would do its part by paying the cost of running public colleges. Over the years, politicians have learned that if they made students pay for tuition, they could give tax cuts to voters. Yet even through rough financial times, the federal government has given financial aid to needy students if they study hard and get good grades. Now Kerry says students should have to work for the government to have their college paid for.
Kerry does not have a plan to make the elderly work for their social security checks. I wouldn't support that, either, but I wonder what the difference is in John Kerry's mind. Does America benefit more from having a lot of retirees than it does from having a lot of college graduates? Do people give up more opportunities to retire than they give up to go to college? Why would Kerry treat students worse than the elderly?
Call me a cynic, but I think the difference has to do with the fact that the elderly vote in much greater numbers than future college students do. Kerry's plan is based, not on any ideology or moral principle, but on the cynical desire of a politician to pander to voters by screwing over non-voters.
Please contact the Kerry campaign and tell them how you feel. Thank them for finally dropping their threats of involuntary servitude, but ask them to improve further by dropping all threats against youth.
Update November, 2004:
Stick a fork in John Kerry: he's done!
Many of us begged Kerry to reform before the election so we could vote for him. He refused. Under pressure, he dropped his worst threat. But he never apologized for it, and he never gave us a reason to like him. Now he's trying to figure out why young people didn't vote for him in large enough numbers for him to win.
We tried to save you, Johnny boy. But like the song says, "Who will save your soul if you won't save your own?"
If the Democrats want to win the White House in 2008, they must learn from their mistakes. Next time, don't nominate a bigot. Nominate someone who can inspire people's respect and support. If the Democrats had nominated Howard Dean, they would have won. Bush is not a popular president. His approval ratings are so low, any half-way decent Democrat could have taken Bush down. But Kerry couldn't.