In 1988, a candidate for the US Senate spoke to a group of
hearing-impaired teenagers at Boys Town, Nebraska. He told of how he
lost part of his right leg during the Vietnam War.
"At the end of his speech," Ivy Harper wrote in her excellent
biography of Bob Kerrey, "his hearing-impaired audience, with arms
outstretched, repeatedly fluttered their hands from above their
heads to their waists: silent thunderous applause."
In the 1960s, a generation of young Americans was drawn to
politics by the leadership of John F. Kennedy. In the 1980s,
another generation was inspired by the bold confidence of Ronald
Reagan. These two presidents, miles apart on many issues, shared a
romantic optimism about America and the self-confidence to truly
Today, many young people are repelled by politics, while many
senior citizens nostalgically remember the political giants who
called us to greatness. Half our nation is so disillusioned with
lesser-of-two-evils choices that they don't even bother to vote,
while growing numbers regard the political process as corrupt or
I propose that Democrats, independents, and progressive
Republicans initiate a draft movement to support former Democratic
Sen. Bob Kerrey for president and urge him to invite Republican
Sen. John McCain to be his running mate, in whatever political
affiliation they believe would best unite the country.
America is ready for a campaign of integrity, honor, patriotism,
reform, bipartisanship, and service that challenges us to "ask what
we can do for our country."
Such a campaign could inspire record numbers of voters, and
motivate the next generation of young leaders at all levels of
political and community service. This ticket would have the
potential to carry all 50 states and, in the meantime, would
challenge George W. Bush to rise to the occasion to become an even
Before Mr. Bush's inauguration, I wrote that both parties should
reach out with bipartisan goodwill. Sadly, only weeks later our
economy drifts downward, the permanent campaign continues, and
politics sinks back into a morass of cynicism as special-interest
lobbyists ask what their country can do for them.
In recent days there has been an attack on worker-safety
protection, new anti-bankruptcy bills at a time of layoffs, a
retreat from the president's promise to combat global warming, and
efforts to destroy campaign-finance reform, as a great battle
unfolds in Congress.
Serious discussion of a Bob Kerrey draft would add vigor and
excitement to the loyal opposition. It would set a standard for
debate, while promoting a powerful and inspiring candidate. …