Each time we come to a presidential election, I go on a rant about what the real issues are, or should be, when electing someone to hold that office. I've made this argument since Reagan was in office and I'm about to share it again.
Please read and understand the Constitution, folks. The number one area that the president has control over is foreign policy. Sure, she can veto laws, propose judges, propose laws, propose spending, propose tax changes, write rules on how laws are to be enacted and carried out, but none, zip, zero, nada of that can be carried out without the complicity of Congress. Congress can overturn the veto. Congress approves judges. Congress passes laws. Congress can mandate spending. Congress writes and passes tax laws. Congress can specifically demand how a president carries out the laws that it passes. If you don't like how an administration plays with abortion, then see how your representative and senator stands on the issue and either support her or vote her ass out.
However, the president has pretty much free reign with foreign policy both by constitutional provision and tradition. She is supposed to be the chief diplomat and the face of the nation. She commands troops as the back-up to her policy when things get tough. In fact, Presidents traditionally fall back into the foreign policy role when they either get into hot water with domestic politics or when they become lame ducks during their second term. Think about it: Carter worked on the middle east political issues while the economy was in the tank. Reagan worked with Gorbachev primarily during his second term. Clinton made more foreign trips during the Lewinsky debacle than any president before him.
I wish that the Democrats had presented a candidate that offers a clear distinction from the Republicans as regards foreign policy, but they have not. Instead, they have given us a person who basically agrees with the sitting President over his policies, but disagrees greatly with the execution of those policies. To my mind, this is not a clear choice. That's a crime and an abducation of the responsibilities of a loyal opposition. The voters of this nation deserve better; we deserve real choices.
Sure, if Kerry is elected he will change the rules by which the government plays. He will propose stem cell research. He will nominate pro choice judges. He will make many of these issues better. But better for how long? Until the next right wing president gets elected? Kerry will say he'll do this and that, but he cannot do anything without the assistance of a friendly Congress.
What does this mean? It means, the rhetoric you are hearing from the 2 parties' presidential candidates during this campaign is a smoke screen. When you go to the polls, forget the rhetoric on stem cells, national health care, social security, abortion, et al, and think about who you want to run foreign policy when you vote for the president. While you're there, look at your representatives in Congree and in your state legislators and think about where they stand on the above issues and then let that inform your choice for those offices.