In Defense of Kerry's Campaign
Kerry is a good man, with a lifelong commitment to progressive values. Complaining he was "for the war" was both inaccurate and shortsighted of his lifetime record and achievements. Your own divisiveness played in to the hands of the Republicans and contributed to the Dems loss.
While I applaud any efforts and discussion toward reforming the DNC and strengthening Democratic state parties to increase our chances in the future, lets not blame Kerry as if he was responsible for the entire state of the Democratic Party.
Lets look at the big picture.
Kerry, his campaign and supporters raised more money and received more votes than any democrat before him and narrowly lost by one state. (Ohio) He also gave more money to the party than any candidate before him.
Was Kerry a perfect candidate? Of course not. Did he make mistakes? Of course, but he was also a steady campaigner who gave it his all. He chose a dynamic running mate, won all three debates, and gave millions of people hope.
Bush and his GOP operatives ran the most negative campaign in history with all the advantages of a war time Presidential incumbent. There was a time in 2002 when Bush's ratings were so high that no one would even enter the race because they thought a Bush win was inevitable. Kerry stepped up and made it as close as it was.
For those critical of Kerry's personality, lets remember that while Clinton was charming, he won his first race with help from Ross Perot (who took like 17% of the vote) during a bad economy. Clinton won a second term against a weak opponent (Dole) in the good times of the dot.com economy. Yes Clinton had charisma, but his human faults also sparked a long lasting backlash which the Democrats are still reeling from, thanks to incessant repetition from right wing radio and FOX news.
Until Dems reclaim the "values" issues and middle America voters our candidates (even those with a great smile and charisma - aka, John Edwards) will always be handicapped and playing from behind.
Dems need to think big picture and long term. Our PR machine, think tanks and strategists need to turn up the volume and reframe the issues.
I believe Kerry has a large roll to play in shaping this future as no one understand more than him how tough it is to win against the GOP machine.
Independents For Kerry