Charlie's election 2004 soapbox. . . 22 july, 2004

OK so here we are. At the crossroads I talked about in one of my previous pieces on this Soapbox. First, let me address any of you who might be thinking of not voting this November 2nd because you "don't think it will make any difference." There are two things I KNOW about this election: it is going to be the most important election since 1945 and it will be decided by those few people who don't think their votes matter. If you are eligible to vote, you absolutely OWE it to yourself, your children and, most importantly, to the memory of those countless millions who have died to make sure you still HAVE that vote, that you register and VOTE in the election. Yes, I care about who you vote for, but not half so much as that you just do it!

Now, I could go on for pages about what I feel about this President and his administration, but I have to believe that you have heard it all before and that, at this point, it is redundant. What I would like to do instead is talk a little about the Ticket running against President Bush. I believe that John Kerry and John Edwards are exactly the men America needs right now to lead us into a positive, hopeful, secure and prosperous future. I believe very deeply that the doctrine of fear, division and violence that characterize the policies of this administration, are doing nothing to make us safer or stronger. On the contrary.

John Kerry has been in a war: a nasty, controversial and violent war. He performed with extraordinary bravery on countless occasions in that war. He has killed, and seen his friends die, in the name of America. Neither of his opponents have gotten close to that life-changing experience. That alone, I believe, qualifies him to lead our country in a time of threat and crisis such as we are facing now. He knows how important it is to have a clear moral purpose and strategic vision if you are going to let loose those "dogs of War," and he knows the horrible cost when those things are lacking. He knows from experience how impossible such an enterprise becomes if the rest of the world distrusts and disavows your motives. Vietnam taught him that War is too terrible to leave to others. We must all take responsibility for the cost and we must all determine for ourselves the moral imperative of such a final action. He did more than his duty in Vietnam, but, when he was done, he looked again at the "whys" and "wherefores" of this war and found them lacking. Every bit as courageous as his actions "in country," so were his actions afterwards. The Founding fathers themselves made it abundantly clear in the Constitution of this great Nation, that it is both courageous and patriotic to question and challenge the actions of our government when they appear misguided, immoral or wrong. Kerry, once again, showed his strength and patriotism when he spoke out against the Vietnam war.

When he was told, as we all were, by his Commander in Chief and President that Iraq was behind the horror of 9/11 and that Saddam was readying a stockpile of deadly weapons to unleash another attack, Kerry gave his support for a war against this imminent threat. When the pretext was revealed as a mistake, or worse, he withdrew that support: never of the troops, but of the war. He would have been both stupid and stubborn to have done otherwise. He was devastated by the cost in human life, our friendships abroad and the respect of the world. His Commanding officers had fooled him again, and once again he had to watch Americans die in vain. Can anyone believe that these are the actions of a weak man?!! John Kerry will NEVER let Americans die in vain again. Neither will he avoid the sacrifice when it is necessary. He has been there. He knows the difference.

Here is another reason we need John Kerry, now more than ever. He is a genius at building coalitions: his colleagues in the senate have often pointed this out as his strength. Terrorism is a Global menace. It is hubris and mistaken to see it as a uniquely American problem. Tell the poor people of Bali or Madrid that only America has a "war against terrorism." The rest of the world saw that our country was using Terrorism and the tragedy of 9/11 as a pretext for invading Iraq for our own agenda, whether it was Oil or revenge or whatever. The respect, sympathy and solidarity that the nations of this earth showed us on Sept.12th morphed, overnight, into disgust, distrust and disillusionment when we abandoned all reason and diplomacy to wage our own private war in Iraq. We know now, or should, that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nor were they stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. The world begged us to listen, to see reason, to trust our friends, and we shrugged them off. John Kerry is adamant that this isolationist, "go it alone" policy is in fact putting us in greater danger than ever. To combat a global and insidiuous enemy, you need global cooperation and trust. He will deliver on this promise as soon as he is elected, and we will be safer.

John Kerry believes passionately in the future of this country and that means no more nor less than its children. An Education policy needs more than some vague "No child Left behind" slogan that comes with no funds and no real plan. Every child will be contributing to the future of his or her country one way or another: some by overloading the jails and taxing the fabric of society, others by unleashing their vision, effort and uniqueness on all aspects of our world. The education of the next generation is the single most important issue facing any society and John Kerry knows this and will make this a cornerstone of his administration. John Kerry and John Edwards are men of vision and optimism. The time could not be more perfect. The start of this millennium taught us some harsh, devastating lessons in what the next century could be about. Let us not choose to make it about fear, violence, hubris and hate: let us choose the path of Strength, Prosperity and Respect. I urge you to vote. I hope you vote for John Kerry and John Edwards.

As always, I am not shy about my position and I hope you will not be. I welcome responses and comments and am especially pleased to hear from those that disagree with me. Informed debate and argument is what made this country a model for all others. . .so bring it ON!

ADDENDUM: 28 september, 2004

Though I am not shy about who I am voting for, my primary goal in setting up this particular soapbox, was to get people to vote in the upcoming election. Someone with a powerful voice in America is Oprah Winfrey. Today she had a show on emphasizing why it is so important to vote, encouraging young people, minorities, people who have never voted because they think it doesn't affect them, and women especially to vote and making sure that this group of people knows that they can decide who wins in this upcoming election, and by doing so, change the world. For all of the people that said that their vote didn't count because politicians didn't pay attention to them, she pointed out that if everyone who feels that way voted, the politicians would have no choice but to start paying attention to them. The things that she focused on are worth repeating here, because her point was, you lose your voice if you do not vote.

She has a page on her website that helps people facilitate getting registered to vote and I am going to include that here. I urge you to register and vote on November 2nd. Don't let other people make decisions for you, your families, your futures. 32 state registration deadlines are October 2nd - 8th. When is yours? This is Oprah's register to vote help page and this is part of what she has to say on women voting.

It won't make a difference? Baloney. Don't have time? Make time. In the last presidential election 22 million single women didn't vote. 537 votes in Florida decided the 2000 election. Every person counts. Tell your friends. Tell your friends to tell their friends. Make a difference in 2004.

I've said it many times on the show—if you're a woman in America, you're one of the luckiest women on the planet. There's no other place on Earth where a woman has the freedom and the choices that we take for granted every single day….

You have the freedom to educate yourself.
Even more importantly, you can give your children an education.
You can give them the food and clothing they need.
You can choose to be married…or not.
You can walk beside your husband or significant other…not behind him.
You can drive a car—whether it's to your child's soccer game or to the work you choose to pursue.
You can wear the clothes you choose.
You can wear makeup and style your hair any way you want.
You can be a stay–at–home mother. You can go to work. You can do both.
You can speak your mind.
You can choose the people who represent what you believe.

As women in America, we have richness of choice few other women can even dream of. Let's cherish that.

For all the women around the world who don't have the choices we do—honor yours.

Choose to vote on November 2nd. Pass it on. click here to email this letter

E–mail this letter to all the women you know who cherish their freedoms.

— Oprah

ADDENDUM: 17 september, 2004

I have just read this Op-Ed from Mr. Keillor about this election and I do not believe anyone could put it all more plainly, eloquently and exhaustively as he has.

We're Not in Lake Wobegon Anymore By Garrison Keillor August 26, 2004

Something has gone seriously haywire with the Republican Party. Once, it was the party of pragmatic Main Street businessmen in steel-rimmed spectacles who decried profligacy and waste, were devoted to their communities and supported the sort of prosperity that raises all ships. They were good-hearted people who vanquished the gnarlier elements of their party, the paranoid Roosevelt-haters, the flat Earthers and Prohibitionists, the antipapist antiforeigner element. The genial Eisenhower was their man, a genuine American hero of D-Day, who made it OK for reasonable people to vote Republican. He brought the Korean War to a stalemate, produced the Interstate Highway System, declined to rescue the French colonial army in Vietnam, and gave us a period of peace and prosperity, in which (oddly) American arts and letters flourished and higher education burgeoned?and there was a degree of plain decency in the country. Fifties Republicans were giants compared to today?s. Richard Nixon was the last Republican leader to feel a Christian obligation toward the poor.

In the years between Nixon and Newt Gingrich, the party migrated southward down the Twisting Trail of Rhetoric and sneered at the idea of public service and became the Scourge of Liberalism, the Great Crusade Against the Sixties, the Death Star of Government, a gang of pirates that diverted and fascinated the media by their sheer chutzpah, such as the misty-eyed flag-waving of Ronald Reagan who, while George McGovern flew bombers in World War II, took a pass and made training films in Long Beach. The Nixon moderate vanished like the passenger pigeon, purged by a legion of angry white men who rose to power on pure punk politics. "Bipartisanship is another term of date rape," says Grover Norquist, the Sid Vicious of the GOP. "I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub." The boy has Oedipal problems and government is his daddy.

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong?s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt's evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we're deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Rich ironies abound! Lies pop up like toadstools in the forest! Wild swine crowd round the public trough! Outrageous gerrymandering! Pocket lining on a massive scale! Paid lobbyists sit in committee rooms and write legislation to alleviate the suffering of billionaires! Hypocrisies shine like cat turds in the moonlight! O Mark Twain, where art thou at this hour? Arise and behold the Gilded Age reincarnated gaudier than ever, upholding great wealth as the sure sign of Divine Grace.

Here in 2004, George W. Bush is running for reelection on a platform of tragedy?the single greatest failure of national defense in our history, the attacks of 9/11 in which 19 men with box cutters put this nation into a tailspin, a failure the details of which the White House fought to keep secret even as it ran the country into hock up to the hubcaps, thanks to generous tax cuts for the well-fixed, hoping to lead us into a box canyon of debt that will render government impotent, even as we engage in a war against a small country that was undertaken for the president's personal satisfaction but sold to the American public on the basis of brazen misinformation, a war whose purpose is to distract us from an enormous transfer of wealth taking place in this country, flowing upward, and the deception is working beautifully.

The concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few is the death knell of democracy. No republic in the history of humanity has survived this. The election of 2004 will say something about what happens to ours. The omens are not good.

Our beloved land has been fogged with fear?fear, the greatest political strategy ever. An ominous silence, distant sirens, a drumbeat of whispered warnings and alarms to keep the public uneasy and silence the opposition. And in a time of vague fear, you can appoint bullet-brained judges, strip the bark off the Constitution, eviscerate federal regulatory agencies, bring public education to a standstill, stupefy the press, lavish gorgeous tax breaks on the rich.

There is a stink drifting through this election year. It isn't the Florida recount or the Supreme Court decision. No, it?s 9/11 that we keep coming back to. It wasn't the "end of innocence," or a turning point in our history, or a cosmic occurrence, it was an event, a lapse of security. And patriotism shouldn?t prevent people from asking hard questions of the man who was purportedly in charge of national security at the time.

Whenever I think of those New Yorkers hurrying along Park Place or getting off the No.1 Broadway local, hustling toward their office on the 90th floor, the morning paper under their arms, I think of that non-reader George W. Bush and how he hopes to exploit those people with a little economic uptick, maybe the capture of Osama, cruise to victory in November and proceed to get some serious nation-changing done in his second term.

This year, as in the past, Republicans will portray us Democrats as embittered academics, desiccated Unitarians, whacked-out hippies and communards, people who talk to telephone poles, the party of the Deadheads. They will wave enormous flags and wow over and over the footage of firemen in the wreckage of the World Trade Center and bodies being carried out and they will lie about their economic policies with astonishing enthusiasm.

The Union is what needs defending this year. Government of Enron and by Halliburton and for the Southern Baptists is not the same as what Lincoln spoke of. This gang of Pithecanthropus Republicanii has humbugged us to death on terrorism and tax cuts for the comfy and school prayer and flag burning and claimed the right to know what books we read and to dump their sewage upstream from the town and clear-cut the forests and gut the IRS and mark up the constitution on behalf of intolerance and promote the corporate takeover of the public airwaves and to hell with anybody who opposes them.

This is a great country, and it wasn't made so by angry people. We have a sacred duty to bequeath it to our grandchildren in better shape than however we found it. We have a long way to go and we're not getting any younger.

Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I have spoken my piece, and thank you, dear reader. It's a beautiful world, rain or shine, and there is more to life than winning.

ADDENDUM: 12 august, 2004

Just one more thought that I wanted to throw into this fascinating and evolving debate. I hear a lot about "Democracy" being the great "gift" that we Americans can give to the world. I hear a lot about how by exporting Democracy, we are exporting "Freedom" to enslaved peoples....what a load of poppy-cock!!

In effect, Democracy means " the rule of the majority." One man, one vote: you exercise your right to vote: the majority decides the outcome. Right? Do you have any idea how many atrocities, persecutions, injustices have been committed in the name of The Majority? What if Democratic elections in Iraq were to return a Fundamentalist Islamic Party to power, which then proceeded to persecute other religions and impose restrictions on the minorities? If the majority decided, then that's Democracy right?

What everyone seems to be missing is that the beauty of the American Constitution, the shining light that America offers as an example in the world, is that it protects the Rights of the MINORITY, not the majority. The Bill of Rights insures certain" inalienable rights" including "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" to ALL people. This is why there is separation of Church and State, this is why we are not allowed to imprison people without trial, this is why I and many others are concerned for the future of our country.

Look beyond a simplistic sound-bite about freedom and Democracy and you will see what the real battle for the soul of America is about.

The problem is that we have not yet successfully engaged the debate at home, or we would not have millions of children on the streets, desperately pursuing the next meal, let alone life, liberty and happiness. Until we are able to face up to the failed promise of our forefathers here at home, until we roll up our sleeves and put away greed and ego, until we banish the imprisonment of hunger and poverty on our own streets, how can we hope to export what America promises to the rest of the world?

ADDENDUM: 2 august, 2004

I'm so glad to have stirred up the opinions that have come in, as clearly I'm not the only one that thinks this election is important, I can't remember when politics has been so divisive since the civil war. Unfortunately however, the level of debate on this soapbox has deteriorated into personal attacks and lengthy harangues. Up until this point, we have allowed this very heated religious debate that has ensued amongst you, however, this is not the forum for proselytizing. It is also not a forum for linking to websites or books. A lot of responses were not put up because they were just regurgitating other people's opinions, rather than your own. We would like to keep the soapbox open, but In the interest of decorum and a return to the civilized discourse, we are asking you to keep your answers BRIEF, reply in your OWN WORDS and not with recommendations to read a book or go to a website, and please refrain from the personal attacks towards someone else's opinion who has responded in the soapbox. That said, feel free to comment on what I have written and let ME have it!

26 july, 2004

I recently had the honor of appearing with Arianna Huffington at a fund raiser for John Kerry and John Edwards and of all the "talking heads" out there right now, this is the one I respect most of all. If I suddenly lost the power of speech (God forbid!) I would be satisfied to have Arianna do all my talking for me! This is her website. Check it out.

Not registered to vote and not sure what to do? Click on any of the banners below to get help and information!

As always, I welcomed your thoughts whether you agreed with me or not. Here is what you had to say. These were your opinions, that you wrote in, as a reaction to what I had written above.

From melody in california

Dear Charlie,

Well, I don't see how anyone in their right mind could POSSIBLY vote for George Bush, so there you go! One thing I have found about Americans this year is that whoever you are for, you are passionate for them and passionately against the other candidate. I don't know anyone who is undecided or dispassionate.

Your soapbox may be contentious, but you make it very clear that you are voicing your opinions but yet You have included as many people's opinions that disagree with you as those who do agree with you. I have found it fair and applaud you and every other celebrity that has found the passion about our great country to encourage people to vote. I do not know anyone that is NOT voting this year.

I have discussions with my friends and our parents and grandparents about the issues to make sure that we are informed voters. Here in California, we have so many other things to vote for than just the candidates. The passion of the celebrities that have targeted my generation, 18-20 somethings has encouraged us to vote and that is what all of us are doing. We are intelligent and have made up our own minds as to who we vote for, but we have been encouraged to be passionate about the issues that will affect our whole lives. We hope that our voices will be heard. One thing about President Bush you have to give him. He has gotten people passionate about the issues and this country again. We were a country that stood behind our President after 9/11 and we are now a country divided by the issues, by the war, because of terrorism, but I hope that there will be a clear winner tonight and that people that never voted before, or who thought that their voices do not count will be helping to make that decision. Regardless of who wins, we should stand behind our President to present a united front to the rest of the world. And if it isn't your guy, then get involved to make the changes that this country needs. I can only speak for my friends and co-workers, but we are all voting. My polling place had lines that went around the block this morning and no one was impatient, because our places of employment cannot hassle us for taking time out to vote.

I am a proud American. I only wish that the popular vote had more impact in this country. I understand the electoral college, but feel that we need great reform in this country to have a fair voting system. I do not understand how everyone does not vote with the same method. I can only hope that within the next 4 years, we will all have the same means of voting no matter where we live. I fear that we will have so many legal issues because of the states that are still using the "hanging chad" ballots and the electronic Diebold machines in Florida that have no paper trail and the fact that the head of Diebold admitted publicly that he will make sure that the votes go to President Bush. in fact, several people in Florida have already complained that they voted for Kerry, but in the review of their ballots, it showed Bush.

I agree that this is the most important electon because the next President will be appointing Supreme Court Justices that could move our country forward or take it back many, many years.

We are all asking each other "Did you vote?" and no one wants to hear "No, i couldn't be bothered." I don't think we will. I hope that in my lifetime, politics will be more about reality than political spinning and BS. I hope that some of my generation will become involved in making this a better world and that we will have elected officials of all races and religions and both genders and no one will even think twice about it.

Thanks for having this forum and for voicing your opinions and for caring about your fans. you rock the vote Charlie!!

From tammy in indiana

Oftentimes, our newest citizens are also our most patriotic and fervent ones. You appear to be no exception! A couple of points I'd like to raise, tho:

1. This election is no more important, in my opinion, than those during the Vietnam era. This country was being torn apart from the inside, and only those who were around at the time can understand that.

2. Although I agree with many of your opinions, I prefer they be stated in a less contentious manner.

3. MY vote-on the national level-DOES NOT count! Indiana's 13 electoral votes are meaningless, nationally. The electoral college must be abolished, and soon. The Founding Fathers ( wealthy, white, landowning males) created a system that afforded only citizens of their own class & gender the vote. Although the system has been partially modified, one person, one vote still hasn't been achieved. Sadly, we don't have a true democracy.

I will vote as always for many state & local candidates, but I'll have to watch the big story from the sidelines.

From linda in texas


Although I love ya, I can hardly wait until tomorrow so my husband and I can go vote for President Bush. The more I see your soapbox, the more resolute I become on where I should put my confidence, and it certainly isn't in John Kerry. Just look at that man's resume!!!! I know from everything I have seen and heard, that no one wants to vote for John Kerry. They couldn't--they just hate President Bush so much they would vote for Donald Duck if he were on the ballot. Kerry has no plan whatsoever for this country and what to do about its present situation. There is so much anger and hatred for President Bush--calling him a "cowboy" and such for which I take great umbrage being from Texas. That is a slap in my face!!!!! A vote for John Kerry in my opinion is just a vote of hatred for President Bush. He is a wonderful man and has a wonderful family which is much more than can be said of John Kerry!!!!!

President Bush has mapped out his plans for this country, and all John Kerry can do is say "I have a plan, I have a plan, I have a plan, I have a plan, I have a plan, I have a plan", but as yet I have not heard the specifics of one plan that man has for our country. Oh, yes, his plan is that he be called "President Kerry"!!!!!! Talking about a mess!!!! If he, God forbid, becomes President of the United States, God help us all!!!!

His wife is full of sarcasm for the "common man" as she calls us ordinary people, and they (the Kerrys) have no idea whatsoever about what the life of an ordinary person is like. I'm sorry to sound so bitter, but over several weeks this is the way your soapbox has made me start to feel. Especially, my President being called "cowboy" and my God's name being stomped in the mud. I also resent being called "scumbag" by Teresa Heinz Kerry. She is an insult to the women of our country.

Well, tomorrow (well, it's after midnight here, so I guess that makes it today) it will all be over except counting the votes, and I dread seeing what all that will bring about. I hope President Bush wins by a good margin so courts won't get involved, but there is so much passion in this election, who knows what will happen.

Again, I'm so sorry about sounding so bitter, but in Texas cowboys are put on a pedestal, and I take exception to a fellow Texan being called that in the context in which President Bush was called the same. I love cowboys and I think they should be esteemed in the highest manner.

Again, I love ya, Charlie, but enough is enough. If John Kerry becomes President, I think I will do as Barbra and so many of the Hollywood elite threatened to do if President Bush became President. I think I will move to England for the next 4 - 8 years. No, I don't want to leave Texas, but as the Hollywood elite said about President Bush, John Kerry will never be my President!!!!!!!

I know this sounds trite after my passionate letter, but I do send best regards to you and your family and I hope God blesses you in every way.

From Victoria in Massachusetts

Yes, Mr. Shaughnessy, I will be voting tomorrow morning and I will be casting my vote for President Bush.

I have lived in the State of Massachusetts for over 50 years. Twenty of those years I have observed Senator Kerry doing nothing for the State he was to represent and to be honest with you until someone can tell me what in the world Senator Kerry has done these past twenty years, I am going to support President Bush. Whether you believe in what he has done, or what he intends to do or not, at least we all know what he stands for.

Mr. Shaughnessy, please without the rhetoric, what exactly has Senator Kerry done for the past twenty years? Do you know?

Thank you for the forum in which a person can express their frustration because I am surely frustrated with the Kerry supporters who can't figure out what the man has been doing for twenty years.

I appreciate your work (Mr. Sheffield) but your politics leaves me baffled.

from theresa in colorado

Mr. Shaughnessy,

First of all let me thank you for providing a forum such as this for all of us air our views.? Secondly, it's nice to see someone in the public eye to be vocal about their beliefs.

I have already done my part and voted by absentee ballot, and I can proudly say that I voted for Senator?s Kerry and Edwards.? It was nice to have the Democratic party call and make sure that we received our ballots and if we needed any help in getting filed.

Now to air my views.? As I have stated in previous posts to your soapbox I am a devout Democrat and VERY proud of it!!? Also, I am a Roman Catholic just like Senator Kerry, and I agree with his views completely.? The local Archbishop here in Colorado has been very vocal and public about his feelings on the issues (mainly abortion); now my question is what ever happened to the separation of church and state?? It appears to me that this went out the window about 3 1/2 years ago along with a lot of other things such as truth and understanding.? As a Catholic, I firmly believe that abortion is wrong, but you CAN NOT govern what a person can or can't do with their own body.? If a woman wants an abortion she'll do it weather it?s legal or not.? We shouldn?t revert back to the "back alley" practice; we should make sure that it's safe.

Senator Kerry's plans on the economy, education, and health care are very well thought out and appear to be headed in the right direction.? I can honestly tell you that even though we are hearing how the economy is rebounding, I don?t see it.? The unemployment rate is going up and so are the taxes.? As for education, I agree with you when you stated that John Kerry believes in the future of this country and the cornerstone of the belief is the children.? How can we have any hope for this country if our children are uneducated or held back from reaching their full potential?? The "No child left behind" program is nothing more than a slogan that has added unnecessary pressure to our teachers that are already over worked and extremely underpaid.? I can't imagine any parent that has to go without health care for themselves or any of their children.? This is not right!!? People should not be forced to forgo such a basic need such as health care because they can't afford it.

As for the war in Iraq, I am dumbfounded every day about all of the new revelations about what happened to lead us to this quagmire.? The latest coming yesterday from the Honorable Rudy Giuliani.? For a week the RNC has been saying that Senator Kerry was blaming troops for what had happened with the 380 tons of stolen explosives.? Well, this never happened, and in fact Mr. Giuliani found it necessary to publicly blame the troops for this.? Maybe I'm uninformed but what branch of the service did he serve in . . that's right he didn't!!? I won?t even go into the subject of Mr. Bush's "service" during Vietnam.? How these people can go after someone that voluntarily went to serve his country in Vietnam, for two tours no less, say he doesn't know what he?s talking about is unbelievable.

Every day it is becoming clearer that the only reason we went to war with Iraq was for their oil.? They have not had any weapons, let alone any weapons of mass destruction since the end of Desert Storm (1991).? Yet the country that boarders Iraq, Iran, has the technology and means for nuclear weapons and is not afraid to let us know that.? Also, we have a true nuclear danger in North Korea, not only do they have the technology, but they have actually tested these weapons.? The current administration evidently doesn?t not see these countries as a threat.

I hate to think what the rest of the world think of us, having "elected" Mr. Bush.? As we all saw the great out pouring of sympathy from the rest of the world after 9/11, it is so far gone because of some renegade cowboy.

Although I know we are at war, now is the best time to change leaders.

Thanks for your time.

from shirah in florida


I have always been a big fan of yours and I've met you on two occasions:) I have always appreciated your openness to political banter on your soapbox- however I am sorry to say that Kerry will most definitely not get my vote in 6 days. It is awesome to live in the great "swing" state of Florida!

Although your intentions are good and passion for your cause is certainly admirable, with all due respect, I believe that you, as well as other strong Democrats, are misguided. Though I live in the capital of Florida, near the governor's mansion, this city is extremely liberal and I have had many opportunities to challenge your fellow Kerrians- truthfully, other than their mutual dislike for Bush, none have been able to convince that they are voting for Kerry based on Kerry's plans or convictions, simply that he is not Bush- I don't know about you, but that is certainly not a strong foundation for a president who is wanting to turn over a new leaf. I appreciate anyone who is as fervent in their cause as you are because, even though I do not share your belief- I still have great respect for you.

from shelley in michigan

It's quite impressive to read, online no less, the words of someone who is not afraid to speak up and speak out about the current state of this country. I could go on for hours, but in a nutshell, it was the Republican party who divided this country straight down the political line by declaring any and all disagreement with Bush as 'unpatriotic.' If that doesn't show their true colors, I don't know what does. All of those who so believe need to review their American history, particularly that of Theodore Roosevelt during World War I. That a citizen could pledge allegiance to their country and support the republic while at the same time disagreeing with the President is unheard of this day in age. Not possible, say the Republicans. How soon they forget what one of their own said during WWI decades ago. But as we all know, they're not interested in facts. They tend to rely on 'unfortunate oversights' and 'bad intelligence' to cover their tracks. What ARE these people getting paid for anyway??

I admit I was one of those who did - with all my being - believe that no vote that I would cast would make a difference. Whether or not our voting system is actually reliable and not just a facade to soothe the savage populous, well, I still have my doubts. But I've never been so irritated by a President before in my whopping 31 years! My father votes religiously (not literally), and is thrilled that I will be voting for the first time this election year.

As for terrorists, terrorism, and all that. What good is it to worry about other countries destroying us, when we are destroying ourselves from within our own borders?

In closing, I would like to say "The Nanny" has become one of my favorite shows rerun on Lifetime! I'm not a big fan of tv like alot of people, you know the ones who schedule their lives around the TV Guide. But I like good comedy mixed in with some good humanity. When 'Niles' got 'C.C.' to cluck like a chicken when she thought it was 'Maxwell' I just about fell off my couch! Funniest thing I'd seen in a long time!

A little humor goes a long way, and we need alot more of it.

from alice in texas

Hi again Charlie, Hey I was just letting you know that I did my part and got out and did the early voting thing. Please people do get out and vote, I feel that if "You Don't Vote, Then Don't Complain."Anyway I had to go for John Kerry because he is willing to be a president for All Americans. I like him because he said he was not willing to change the constitution to force his beliefs on others.

Okay Charlie, I hope you and your family have a great rest of the year and I know it's a little early yet, but also have great holidays!

from liane in germany

Bush and Co. are at it again!!

When I read that US Expats World wide who wish to vote can?t access the Website put up by the Ministry of Defence to download the necessary pers - it makes me think! Then only through the intervention of Congressmen was it put up again and then so late, that probably the ballots won?t reach the US in time. Also now only those can vote who were able to register earlier.

It?s different for the Military, and there are 50.000 of them in Germany.For every 50 soldiers ther are "Voting Assistance Officers" to help and an own Internet site for this clientel.(shouldn?t ALL voters have the same chance!!)

Higher ranking officers have said that they have been pressured from "the top " to make sure all soldiers vote.Isn?t this more or less a command to vote!

Finally when I read (in the US press and on TV)that strangely enough the voting machines aren?t working correctin Florida, and that some residents in Florida are registered twice,i.e. in another state as well and no one checks out!! THis really scares me.

So if this Administration gets in again I can only say "God Help America" and not" God Bless America" as always said. Why ? Because this system of manipulation will certainly not end.

We here in Europe, whether it?s the Expat Americans or myself an Australian living here and who has to live with the re-election of John Howard Busch?s "friend" , hope there will be a change which may bring a little peace in the Middle East as I think "the hate" isn?t against US citizens as such but the Bush Administration.Not that I think Kerry can alter his position concerning Iraq, but maybe he can get people talking again.Too many lives have been lost with Busch?s cowboy mentallity. Thank you once again Charlie for having this forum.

from linda in wisconsin

I have just read your Soapbox for 2004 election. This is the most beautiful explanation I have ever hear of how the Bush administration has changed our country. This is what needs to get out to all the masses who think Bush is actually protecting us instead of harming us. Have you sent this to shows like CNN, MSNBC, Meet the Press and the like. Maybe if more people hear this they will finally let it sink in. We only have a short time to go.

from lindsay in texas

Dear Charlie,

I'd just like to let you and everyone else know that if you haven't done so already, you can go ahead and vote early before the november 2nd elections. I am proud to say that I just cast my first presidential ballot today at my college and it certainly felt weird casting my choice for the next president. Unfortunately I live in Texas and they did not carry Ralph Nader's name on the ballot but as a registered citizen I tried to make my vote count.

Unfortunately the down side to this is I am not very well informed when it comes to local issues. Most of the candidates for the court of appeals were republican so there was no option to vote for a different party. My suggestion to voters would be is to keep informed about the local issues in your state as well because when election day comes and you don't know who your senators or other politicians are it could prove a difficulity. I won't reveal who I voted for due ! to political tensions but please don't let anyone influence you. Make your own choice and decisions from your heart. I had someone tell me that if I didn't vote for Bush I was considered an idiot.

Anyway just thought I would share my comment. Early voting ends on the 29th....

from linda in texas


It's been a few weeks since I wrote regarding the upcoming Presidential election, but I couldn't keep myself away from your "Soapbox" although I wish I could.

I was very disappointed in President Bush's first debate performance. Then I thought about what he had been doing all day. He was out on the battlegrounds of the hurricane scarred Florida peninsula doing what he could for the victims of those storms. He was emotionally and physically tired! What was Kerry doing???? Getting himself a manicure as though his brains and skills were in his finger-nails!!!

I was very well pleased with President Bush's second and third debate performances, despite the liberal media bias. He is a tireless worker for our wonderful Country and he will be the same for the next four years. Two weeks from today, Lord Willing, (as Nanny Fine would say), I will cast my lot for George W. Bush to continue to be President of the United States of America.

I would also like to say that Vice President Cheney gave a great performance in the Vice Presidential debate. I am proud to have George W. Bush and Dick Cheney as our President and Vice President.

I do very much believe in God, and I hope God continues to bless you, Charlie, your family, and all who are writing the emails to your "Soapbox". May God bless America. And if I can add the very personal note and on a lighter note, I very much enjoy "The Nanny" (as I have told you before) and your acting performance as Maxwell, with all the cast of that show. Thanks for the enjoyment and laughter you all give to so many people.

Everyone, remember to vote November 2. I'm not an eloquent writer as most of your emailers are, but I say all this from the heart. I have a husband whom I adore and two adult sons whom I love very much, and I want this Country to be led by men who are passionate about their beliefs and where they want to take this Country, and have the courage to do that mission.

from susanne in austria

No Bush Left Behind

Upon the first debate between Senator Kerry and President Bush I was shocked. Not that this had been the first time I watched Mr Bush in action, but I really have to say, Wow! He excelled himself that night. At times I thought I'd seen my first speech-trained monkey, parroting the few phrases his instructors were able to drum into him. I guess every viewer had understood already after the third mentioning what a hard, hard job it is to be president of the United States and that Senator Kerry is not apt enough for the job. However, I realise this metaphor is probably too nasty and disrespectful, and now having seen all three of the debates and a few facts wiser, I feel the need to revise my opinion or do a flip-flop as the republicans would probably call it. I?d rather draw a comparison to an uncomprehending, na?ve child left behind, for this is how he acted through all three of the debates. So I came to realise why his educational reform "No Child Left Behind" is a matter so dear to his heart (well right after oil and war anyway): George W. Bush is such a child left behind!

Example par excellence was already the first debate, where President Bush gave any impression except the one of a competent commander-in-chief. That was not a president who parried Senator Kerry?s legitimate, severe criticism on TV but an unprepared student who reacted like a child left behind ? nervous, frightened, peeved. The bewildered look on his face spoke volumes; I guess someone didn?t do his homework and this time the quick prayers to heaven weren?t much of a help, eh?

I get the same disorientated, helpless look from my students when I ask them an unexpected question they had not been ready for. And when I continue to point out the same mistakes to them again and again, they become irritated and stroppy very much like him. President Bush repeatedly dodged the initial questions and either spoke of unintelligible things (like peace valleys and gaps) or he redirected the focus on 9/11, Saddam Hussein and in the last debate particularly, "No Child Left Behind." When he knew the correct answers he blurted them impatiently out, sometimes even trying to cut Senator Kerry?s word short, as if to prove he has not really fallen that much behind. If this is the way he leads bilateral talks with other heads of states, it does not come as a surprise to me that he sees war as the only option to solve a problem.

Even more concerning and disturbing is the logic with which the current president reasons, leads his office and justifies his actions. "You cannot change positions as a leader", is a rather frightening statement to me. Changing positions he equals with opportunism and being wishy-washy. Does this mean that if you?re making a mistake you just continue doing it out of principle because otherwise you?d flip-flop? Is this the reason why Mr Bush could not come up with three mistakes in four years of administration when being requested in the second debate? All he offered was a list of things that he does not view as mistakes in spite of what others might say. Obviously Mr Bush has in contrast to Mr Kerry one hell of an issue with admitting his mistakes to himself. Now I ask you, if President Bush is not ready to admit his mistakes to himself, how shall he ever learn from them? Would this not be a desirable quality of a commander-in-chief, that he knows when he?s screwed up and will do everything in his power to fix it?

I do understand that as a leader you should reassure your people that you stand firm on your decisions and won?t falter at the slightest complication, and indeed it is probably not wise to have a real opportunist - John Kerry is not one - as a leader who wavers at the slightest political headwind, but a leader should not close his eyes at new evidence just because they don?t fit into his political agenda.

If you are a child left behind it probably makes sense to rely on the logic that so far you have got along well enough with the (little) knowledge you had before, so there is no need to review recently discovered information and acknowledge ?let alone learn! ? new facts, like for example believe UN inspectors that there did not exist weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When you are a child left behind it probably makes even more so sense to call it a flip-flop when somebody accepts new information, fresh evidence and reliable (scientific) facts and changes his opinion according to them. In the eyes of President Bush recognizing facts equals opportunistic flip-flopping, because this is exactly what they accuse Senator Kerry of, especially in terms of the invasion of Iraq. If we apply the Bush logic to earlier events in history than the war in Iraq we find several outstanding flip-floppers, so I am relieved to know John Kerry is in fine company. In the 15th/16th century the common belief was that the earth was a flat disc and if you moved too close to its edge you?d drop off the face of earth. Imagine Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and Fernando Magellan had not acknowledged new scientific facts and empiric evidence that the earth is a ball. What if they had all stayed home and decided against changing their minds, swimming with the mainstream? Where would you be? You wouldn?t get off every second Monday in October, you would live in the United States of Something and probably believe you belong to Asia rather than being an own continent.

Irrespective of that Mr Bush has changed his mind several times himself, one day he tells you that the terrorists will never stop trying to attack the US and we live in a dangerous place; on another day he will tell you that they got 75% of string pulling Al Quaeda members ? not to forget Saddam Hussein! ? and the world is a safer place. (For those who have wondered, a terrorist network such as Al Quaeda is of course NOT recruiting new fighters to substitute caught and fallen members. 75% of posts in Al Quaeda are left vacant for the time being but if you apply nicely when you send in your resume to Osama bin Laden, they?ll likely make an exception for you only.) If Senator Kerry is wishy-washy, then President Bush cannot make up a mind of his own. Within one debate he claimed he respects and tolerates the way two consenting adults live their lives ? mind you, only if they are not gay and married ? and then denied women their right to decide over their body and life five minutes later. And stupid me really thought for a minute he tolerated and respected.

One final thought on the war in Iraq. Senator Kerry promises to redeem the damage done to the international image by President Bush when he marched into Iraq under false pretences. I doubt he will invite other leaders with the words "Join me in the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time." That's Bush logic and what Bush would say. There are more countries, influential ones, who opposed the war than there are in the coalition of the willing, so technically I guess Mr Kerry would not even fall on death ears with a speech like that. Yet, I rather think he will try to form a strong alliance by saying something along the lines of: "President Bush has made a tremendous mistake, the United States rushed to a war they had not thought through to its end. I cannot undo it but I give you my word this will not happen again under my administration. The damage is done and all we can do is trying to fix it. We cannot do it alone, we need your help. If you join us you will benefit from your contribution, too, for this and that reason."

So my plea to the sensible, intelligent American voters therefore is, show a little environmental awareness and plant a Bush in Texas. America and the world will thank you and be the better for it. Join the "No Bush Left Behind" campaign right now. Take the child at his word and don?t leave him behind in the wild political jungle of Washington. Bring the boy home before he might get lost roaming the dark hallways of the White House at night searching for fictitious weapons. In Texas he can invite "his folks" over for a family barbecue and leave politics to those people who know something about it. (Aside note: Who else here smiled when he called the terrorists "folks" in the first debate and wondered whether that was a Freudian slip? [Those among you who have seen Fahrenheit 9/11 and know Bandar Bush will catch my drift ;-) ])

To those people who still maintain that they do not know what John Kerry stands for I say, I read all the candidates? websites and watched the TV debates, I know what he stands for. If I ? a foreigner who has not got even half the command of the English language that you native speakers have ? am able to understand, you sure as hell should be. Get yourself educated there, form an opinion and then vote to the best of your knowledge in November.

from shirah in florida

Charlie, First of all, let me say that I am proud to live in a country that makes it possible for us to be doing this right now and although I don't share your opinion, as well as many of those who have responded on this soapbox, I have respect for your passion and concern. I have more respect for someone with polar-opposite views from my own than someone with luke-warm sentiment and dispassionate feelings who doesn't care to comprehend the vitality of this election. I will first say that when I was 19 yrs old I cast my first presidential vote for Al Gore and I was the first to begrudge George W. Bush from taking his sacred oath. Although I voted, I am not proud to say that I was not an informed voter. To me, if you are just voting to fulfill your "civic duty" with no no rationale for the who and why of the two candidates, please, do us all a favor and don't vote at all.

I do not come from a wealthy family, and I had always believed the misguided stereotype that the "Democrats look out for the poor people, they stand up for the blue-collar society, protect our environment, etc." and that Republicans were high-and-mighty, only protect ourselves and our money, to hell with the environment, etc." I had no particular reason to question this. The attacks on America 9/11/01 opened my eyes to the crisis in our country. I wanted to know why so many people hated America? Why? I started searching for answers, reading books, watching every news channel (CNN, FOX-News, MSNBC) to get the full picture. Trust me, it's not easy finding truth within such a liberal media and it's definitely not easy when you're a student in the state university system. I have transformed into a moderate conservative, but I'm by not means an ultra-right winger.

I cannot tell you how many college students I encounter every day that have no idea about politics, no clue as to what the candidates core views are, but they all seem to support Kerry? Why is this? Well, there are several answers.Micheal Moore just spoke at Florida State University a few weeks ago- I know people who had no clue about politics who left that rally filled with hate and bitterness. They are so vulernable to these people like Moore who prey upon their ignorance, their naivity and ideologies. I will be the first to say that I agree with many of the DNC's ideals, however, we don't live in a world that wants to cooperate with us the way we would like- the world does not play fair- not everyone shares the good samaritan, christian-based humanities of the good 'ole U.S.A.- this is unfortunate, but true. And as we open up our society to so much liberalness and lose the core fundamentals of the founding fathers, the morals our society was based upon, good common-sense even, we're leaving the door wide-open to be overrun by ideals far, far different from our own who would love to impress a lasting and devasting influence on our culture. If we are trying to recreate the moralistic and democratic society of yester-year, we are definitely not going to get there with John Kerry. Does everyone think that he is going to sprinkle his magic-fairy dust on Amercia in January, suddenly changing everyone's lives for the better. He will change our lives, the fabric of our society,that's for certain, but not for the better.

There is no sense supplying the sources for my beliefs because I feel it it every American's duty to investigate unbiased sources on their own and make a sound and INFORMED decision on November 2nd. Not a decision based on facts other people have researched for you and whatever media blurbs you have been exposed to- do your research so you know exactly what you're voting for in two weeks. Please.

from anne in pennsylvania

This post is in response to a couple comments I've read here recently. I am a Christian and I have freely voiced my opinion using this forum. I have written responses on this current topic, ("Election 2004"), and others. I have also read both pro-Kerry and pro-Bush commentary here. There were posts that reflect the exact opposite in political philosophy, and posts that were in direct disagreement with the political opinion initially expressed by the "owner" of this forum, Charles Shaughnessy. I do not see an anti-Christian campaign, nor political bias. As I see it, each side has been given an equal opportunity to express their views in a civilized, non-confrontational way. :)

Now it bothers me, as a Catholic Christian, when people imply John Kerry espouses anti-Christian values. That, if you vote for John Kerry, you are not a good Christian, (alluding to Mr. Kerry's "pro-choice" stance and other social issues). With regard to Mr. Kerry's position on the abortion issue, he has stated, (most recently in the debate of October 8th), that he is "pro-life" and personally does not believe in abortion. Mr. Kerry has, however, an obligation, as a public servant who represents ALL citizens, to uphold the law of the land. President Bush has that same obligation. However, while Mr. Bush loudly proclaims his "pro-life" stance, during his tenure as governor of Texas he signed 152 execution orders. (BTW, that's the most executions by a Governor in the history of the United States.) You cannot be "pro-life" and believe in the death penalty, or abortion, or euthanasia. "Thou Shalt Not Kill" - there's not an asterisk after that commandment. :) Yes, President Bush says he is "pro-life," but he doesn't support and has under funded prenatal and postnatal medical care, child care, and other low income family and women's issues. Look at his performance. Under his leadership, the state of Texas was, (and still is), ranked dead last in every social service issue. Yet, while Governor, his response to this ranking was to push the Texas legislature in passing a 5 million dollar tax cut, . In my eyes, Mr. Bush's "pro-life" stance is a sham -- and I haven't even touched on his abysmal performance concerning current economic social justice issues, or his nonexistent concern for the environment.

from lark in connecticut

I would just like to drop Charlie a note to inform him that while there was little to no doubt I would vote for Kerry, his soapbox pieces have actually done much to reinforce my decision to do so. I feel even better about my vote than I did before. And I do appreciate that. So, thank you Charlie.

I have taken time this evening to read all the responses in this forum. I see no evidence that anyone's opinions (concerning God or otherwise) have been unwelcomed by anyone, much less Charlie. Quite the contrary. Also--I strongly disagree that Kerry supports what God opposes. I believe Kerry (a Catholic) supports America's right to DECIDE their own system of faith and values for themselves, and thus allow for laws which suit such a cause. I see that as a MASSIVE difference. As the result of reading some things here that I strongly disagreed with, I felt compelled to offer this different standpoint.

Happy voting, everyone. Can't wait for November 3rd when all will be put to rest once and for all.

from Sgt. Cat in the US military
Dear Charlie,

For months now, I have been reluctant about posting my thoughts and opinions because of my status in the military. However, I just can't keep my mouth shut any longer! What lit the fire under my touchas? Well, for starters, my young soldiers that said they weren't voting, yet they were complaining about the current Commander In Chief. Of course, watching the debates just made me hot under the collar and finally, Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11".

I just can't believe that there are people out there that won't vote. However, many of those same people complain about the president or his politics. I ask them, did you vote for the other guy? Their response, I didn't vote. Well, WHY? My own opinion is that if you didn't cast your vote, you have no right to complain. Isn't silence, agreement?

I have never been impressed with President Bush. From his last campaign, he has struck me as a puppet. This election, even more so. He is not fluid with his responses in a debate. Without a prepared speech, he is toast. He can't even lie and make it believable. I turned my back on him with the debates. "Fahrenheit 9/11" rolled it up in one neat package. There was no doctoring to the film footage that Michael Moore presented. He just dug into the news and other contacts that he has and found what he believes to be the honest truth.

Aside from 11 Sep 01, we went to WAR. I was with the 3rd Infantry Division, Ft. Stewart, GA. We were one of the first units to go across the burms into Iraq, in search for WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. Guess what? Never found any. Oh, the occasional arsenal of sand missiles or housing developments and schools full of artillery rounds, but no WMD. Oh, maybe because there was no intel saying that there were any in the first place. Just go after the guy that was trying to kill daddy......I killed so many people and had several friends killed for what? Revenge?

Charlie, I just want to thank you for being courageous enough to stand up and speak your piece. Exercise your right to free speech, exercise your right to freedom. What little freedoms that apply to me as a military member, my vote is for Kerry. Bush had his chance, in my eyes, he blew it!

from misty in massachusetts

Dear Charlie,

There is something I dont understand. People who are clearly against the teachings of the Bible are allowed to say so on your website, but the people who are clearly for the teachings of the Bible are not allowed to post their beliefs on your website. People who say that Bush is not a Christian or he doesnt act like one and that voting for Kerry is not going against God, when a Christian who believes in the Bible and the teachings of Christ can tell you that what Kerry supports, God opposes. But people who are for the Bible and who believe in God are not allowed to say so on your website. I do not understand what the bias is, Charlie. Positiveness for God is not allowed, but negativeness towards God is? Charlie, I understand that on a personally owned website, free speech is determined by the webmaster, but I just do not understand why you would allow people to post on your website who oppose God, but not allow those of us who don't to post on your website. It's your site and you can do what you want, but to me, it makes no sense, that's all.

from carmen in holland
Dear Charlie,

I've written this soapbox a few times before, because I'm really concerned about this election. I strongly believe that this election has an influence on the whole world, not only on the US. This because the US has a strong influence on the world and it seems to be getting even stronger these days. I really want to thank you for encouraging everybody to vote. I think it's so important to let your voice be heard, to let people know how you feel, where you stand. We always say, those who don't vote, have no right to complain about the things that go wrong or things they disagree with, because you didn't let the people know what you wanted when you had the chance to. So please let your voice be heard, let the government know what you want.

If I had the chance to vote, I would vote for Kerry, because I really feel he's the best man for the job. I have little to no faith at all in president Bush. Especially after seeing him ignore the rest of the world, regarding the war in Iraq, not listening to what the rest of the world had to say (to try things in a different way). Saying Iraq had al of these weapons and now they say there is no prove of these weapons even existing at all, how strange is that. Pulling a whole lot of other countries with him in this war...and for what? All these people were killed for what.... a lie (nothing)?? And during this afwull war, he totally forgot his own country, letting people live in circumstances, that shouldn't even exist.

I really hope that Kerry wins. I know a whole lot of people disagree with me and that's ok, because everyone has a right to there opinion, that's why these discussions are so much fun, you can agree to disagree and respect eachother, that's the way it should be.

Thanks very much for listening to my opinion. All my best to all of you.

from tanya in new jersey
Hi Charlie.

First and foremost, I want to express to you how much I agree with you in your support for John Kerry. As a 23 year old, this will only be my second election. I voted for Gore four years ago and I hope to have better luck this time around! What seems to be one of the big dividers in this election that I can gather just by reading responses to your soapbox has a lot to do with religion. I'd like to take a moment and express my feeling on that and get up on the old soapbox of my own.

In my personal opinion, I just think that if some people would take their noses out of the bible long enough, they would see that a vote for Kerry is certainly not a vote against God. There is a bigger picture to look at than that. And if they looked *further* than the fact that Bush happens to be anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, or whatever other Christian "values" he supposedly lives by....they'd see that some of his catastrophic *actions* can arguably call into question how honorable of a "Christian" he truly is, was, or ever will be. Again, there is so much of a bigger picture to look at. Especially in the utter and grave situation we are living within these days.

I was raised Catholic and respect what the religion stands for. But I am fortunate enough to have the open-mind needed to see the big picture and make my vote count for the greater good. I was taught a religion that adheres to the Holy Bible. But I do not, and never would expect *anyone* else to have to do so if it does not suit them. Especially since many of these issues have proved to be highly controversial (and rightfully so) in the very modern and overwhelmingly complicated world we live in. Live and let live. If religion is your way of life, Godspeed, but respect others' right to disagree and live accordingly. That's what America stands for. That is what John Kerry stands for. And that is partly why I will surely be voting for him.

I will fully admit that I was never a Bush supporter, but was willing to give him a chance and eventually came to accept him as president. And it is after four long years of his presidency, that I feel fully justified in having the right to say that his presidency has been disappointing, disturbing, and disastrous, over all. I base that opinion on the plethora of domestic, foreign, and social circumstances we have come to live in, and of course, the actions that have been taken concerning Iraq. All far too much to fully get into, and this message seems to be long enough as it is. In any event, I say this not as a bleeding heart liberal, not as an anti-Bush fanatic, but as an American who has sat back and fully and carefully looked at the world around her for the last four years. I simply and plainly just see what I see. And what I see? Not. Good.

Thanks very much for listening, and best of luck to you in all your endeavors.

from wende in florida
Charlie, I haven't written in this soap box for I would say a couple of months or so now. I have been reading the responses. Everyone knows where I stand about all of this, so I'm going to make anymore comments on that now. Just let me say without anyone wanting to blow off steam at me. I will be glad when it is November the third; the day after the election. I will not make any comment on the next president at this moment. Charlie, I plan to vote; God Willing! P.S. Charlie I still love to watch you on t.v. You even did great on Star Gate SG1 and I would love to see you on it as a semi regular. If you could ask the people of that program if they could get that guy back who had played Jonah, that would be fantastic! He was also great on that show.

from debi in texas
Hi! ?I was thrilled to find that on your web site you would welcome debate about the upcoming election. I had always wondered how an intelligent person could come to the conclusion that the Kerry-Edwards ticket was the way to go. ?I realize that sounds snide in writing and I apologize.... it is said with the idea of wanting to learn how you came to the conclusions that you did. ?

Just a bit of background on myself.......I am 40, married and the mom of 4 kids (ages 8, 4, 2 and an infant). ?I stay home and also work occassionally as a pediatric RN. ?My husband is a self employed contractor. ?We must pay for our own insurance- which does NOT cover maternity, our own social security, and whatever other taxes come along. ?We live in a 1600 square foot home in Dallas TX. ?Basically we get by. ?I also spent 9.5 years in the US Nav! y. ?I say all of this so you will hopefully get the picture that I am one of the middle class the Democrats are always saying that they want to help. ? ?

I don't get it....... The Kerry Blog says quite a bit about " A Health Plan for Every Child" ?Where is the money going to come from? They also claim "The Kerry-Edwards plan will support more resources and more reform in our schools. The plan will fully fund the No Child Left Behind Act so students have smaller classes and more textbooks. The plan will make reform work for our schools, supporting innovations in public schools like smaller schools, all-girls schools focused on math and science, and charter schools. And the plan will invest in afterschool programs so that 3.5 million children have a safe, quality place to go after school." ?(I cut and pasted directly from the Kerry campaign Web site) It sounds great but again- how is it going to be funded? ?My property taxes have almost! doubled in the 8 years I have lived here. ?The local public school is over crowed ! ?and ?understaffed. ?They do their best and I admire them but many of the children they are tasked with teaching have no English skills and little or no parental invovement. ?Money can't fix that. ?When I called the school to see about signing my four year old up for pre-K I was told it was only for children elegibale to recieve food stamps- not my child, even tho my tax dollers supprt the program. ?The Kerry camp would like to pay for after school care for 3.5 million children again- where does that money come from? My taxes. ?I am barely keeping my family afloat, why should I have to pay to take care of other children? ?

OK.... this is turning into a rant and that wasn't what I wanted. ?I really want a debate! ?Oh wait! Iraq- just a quick thought- what about the mass graves where the Iraqi government was killing those they didn't like ... wasn't that a reason to go in and stop Saddam? It is very easy to look backwards and see 20/20!

from linda in texas

I am feeling so badly about most of the emails you are receiving and posting to your website in the "Soapbox" section. If Kerry wins this election as President of our precious United States of America, we might as well say goodbye to our wonderful country as we have known it since our founding fathers came here long ago.

May God bless you and your family and all who have written emails and most of all, God Bless America.

from andrea from texas

I have been a fan of yours for a long time and have been visiting your website for many years. I am a woman who has voted, but not because I believed in the candidate, just because of that candidate's party. I grew up with republican parents and we were told to vote republican. I started thinking that I wasn't really on board with what the republican party candidates stood for, but still voted that way because it was easier to live in my very political family by just going along with the way my parents were. I don't live with my parents anymore. After I moved out, I just became apathetic and stopped voting.

I take great umbrage with anyone who says that you should not be allowed to say whatever you want on this website and that the hollywood types should stay out of politics. And I want you to know, that not only have you caused me to realize that I have given up the most precious right that we have in this country, the freedom to vote, but this election, I have learned everything I could about what the 2 candidates stand for and I am voting my conscience and my heart.

I wish my father were still alive. I feel with all of my heart, that if stem cell research had been farther along in this country, he may not have died. I have children that I know are the future of this country and I am afraid for them. I cannot afford health care. I work 2 jobs, neither of which offer health care. I believe in God and am grateful that I have a right to choose what is best for my body.

Last night as I was about to watch the debates, which by the way, also helped with my resolve for my choice of candidate, the newscaster said, "Which candidate will be better to lead our country in this critical time of war" and all I could think about was, we shouldn't even be at war and if President Bush had not put us in this position, maybe the newscasters would be saying, "Which candidate will be better able to provide for the citizens of the United States and be keeping our country safe?"

I have friends that live in states that normally vote a particular way and they say, well, my vote won't count because my state always votes _______________ (fill in the blank) My understanding is that the electoral college is who casts the votes for each state either Republican or Democrat, and that the determination of who they will vote for is from a direct representation of whichever candidate got the most votes in that state, or whoever wins the popular vote, state by state. If everyone voted, then I do believe that some states, that in the past may have been determined to always be Democrat or Republican, could actually be changed. Anyone feel free to correct me if I am misinformed.

I am so grateful to Oprah and you for pointing out that woman could have the power in this country to determine who gets elected. I pray that every woman who is eligible to vote, will vote. I believe that the popular vote can and SHOULD win an election.

I am voting for Kerry-Edwards because they believe in what I believe in. I pray that more people will do what I did. Examine the issues, see what is important and make your voice be heard. Don't just go along with what someone else has told you to do and don't think that your vote doesn?t count. It does.

Thank you for having this soapbox. I have written to Oprah to tell her how grateful I am to you and her for making me see the error of my ways and to make me realize that I have an important voice in my future and the future of my family.

from heather in indiana
Mr. Shaughnessy,

My name is Heather and I am from Indiana. I am 26 years old and I have not voted in a presidental election. I never thought that my vote would make a difference but since I have read things that you have written, it has helped me make my decission to vote.

My husband is 52 and on May 10, 2003 his youngest son, LCpl. Matthew R. Smith was killed in Kuwait in a Humvee accident. Matt was only 20 years old but he was very political and very proud of his country. When it came to politics, Matt could not be more opionated. Matt was not very fond of President Bush to say the least, but he did not bad mouth his commander and cheif. He knew that what he was doing over seas was what he needed to be doing.

Thank you very much for reading this.

from dee in california
Charlie -

Thanks for the Oprah message and for continuing to urge everyone to vote. The only way evil continues to prosper is because good men (and women) do nothing! My vote will count towards getting Kerry-Edwards into office for a stronger America!

from sylvie in luxemburg

Hi Charlie

First of all thank you for caring so much for us fans, you are worthy of all my respect. Figure out Bush being the winner of the elections!?! I don't dare imagine the outcome after another four years! What will have become of America itself and its citizens?!? Iraq, health-care, schools ...? What will be with Americas former Allies and friends?!? I don't dare a look into the crystalball for fear it might show me a VERY bad future for America and the whole world, because in one way or another all nations are some-how affected. I must agree with some former soapbox-writers that there has never been a real war against terrorisme. NO this war has had very other goals. 9/11 gave them the most perfect pretext to pursue, now with the agreement of the public those whatever goals they had and in all probability have until now. Fear policy has ever been the strongest of all.

I'm not that naive to think that Kerry and Edwards are the supermens that will bring America out of all troubles, solve all problems, bring the real solution to solve for good the Iraq-conflict and terrorisme. Way far from that. To criticize someone and his actions has always been and will ever be an easy thing to do but really making things better is way far difficulter to realize. But I'm convinced that Kerry and Edwards are indeed the better choice for America, its citizens and all other nations. Kerry and Edwards are able to lead America some steps forward again while Bush would make America step back further. I'm certain that Kerry and Edwards will do their very best in trying to make America a safer and a better place to live in again. For Americas foreign policy Kerry is the right man to repair and to polish up again the very damaged image of America in the world (thanks your current president and administration with their "Go-alone policy" or "We over all others policy") and to rebuild new/old friendships again with Americas Allies. Kerry is known for his great ability to build up political commitments. Than against some others opinion I'm sure that also the mighty and wealthy America needs friends and Allies to reach its own goals. It's clear that John Kerry is rather a man of friendship than of war because I think he knows probably very well of the hell a soldier has to go through in war. I don't know if John Kerry had to go through horrid experiences while he was a soldier in war but if he really did, he will never be able to send young women and men to war if the cause is not 100% founded to be absolutely necessary and inevitable. This far for my very own opinion.

Dear soapbox-readers please make sure you have all the pieces of that political puzzle together before making your mind up. If there were some pieces to lack it could possibly show you a wrong image and it could give you the wrong view. Watch national and international TV Channels, read national and international newspapers. Nowadays there are so many possibilities with the Internet too. Please try to approach this important matter with a neutral and open mind, it's the only way to see the most possible truth (if one can talk of truth in politics!). Only then you will be able to make a wise choice. And as we all have to live with the consequences of our decisions and actions please consider that the outcome of this elections will affect in a severe and unavoidable manner the future of our children!

I can only agree completely with Charlie's addendum of 9/28 that it is very important to vote. Make your opinion count.

You choose the color of your new car - you choose the style of your clothings - you choose the taste of your food, sharp or not . . . but you don't choose the color and style and taste . . . of your future. Can it be - that you let others make such a very important choice for you? - that you let others decide over your future?!?

from jason in california

Dear Charlie,

I feel like, this is your sandbox, and you make up the rules and I for one am grateful that you let everyone say what they have to say, put it up for all to read, and I think you are right to do it this way now! I think that we are lucky to have a place like this. It is very interesting to read the opinions of people from all over the world as elections in the US affect the whole world.

I am glad however, that you do now have the rule that what we are responding to is what you have posted, and it's your website and you can post whatever you want! Some of your past soap boxes and even earlier here have gotten way out of hand. You wre right. I'm glad that you stopped the personal attacks, the recommendations, the quoting etc. and the way I look at it, if those people that are mad about your rules don't get it, then maybe they should have their own websites where they can say whatever they want and have folks respond to that.

Hey man, I just think you are wicked fair about what you let people put up here and I have a lot of respect for that. I wrote an earlier reponse that was inappropriate, and I got the email from your webmaster asking me to rewrite and submit it under the rules, and I thought about it and realized that it is just awesome that you care enough about your fans to go to all that trouble. You could have just ignored my posting, it never would have shown up, i would have gotten mad probably, and I appreciate the care that you take to make US feel appreciated by you and your webmaster, so thank you. It makes reading and participating in the soapbox so much better now, I think.

from rose in NY

Here I go again! I posted on the election issue early on and have seen so much go on in the world since then that I am hopeful to be heard again.

To address the election issue, I'll say it again, keep watch over who holds true to his word, and doesn't change his mind with the opinion polls. As American's look to the man who will give us a hand up, not a hand out. Trust me, this comes to you from a person who spent long years pulling herself up by her bootstraps to get out of debt because of bad economic times in the 90's and I didn't blame the Democrats. Or the Republicans for that matter. I know what I'm talking about. The actual cause of my career bumps was the growth of computerzation in the business world. And, I endorse all that computers can do for us, something that used to tear me up, believing so much in something that is keeping you from working (laid off 3 times due to a lack of jobs in the 90's). So this hand up not a hand out thing is very important. You can't appreciate what you have if it is handed to you. You have to earn it.

To address this sudden criticism over Charlie's opinions, sources etc., take a good long look at this site. I honestly don't agree with his politics on all levels, I think there is more of a middle ground to stand on, but look at this site, if there ever was someone who takes seriously the responsibility of having a web site, I think he fits the bill. He's political where he tells you he will be political, entertaining where he says he'll entertain you, charitable where.................................... well you get the picture. So, enjoy the site and search out the things you like and don't pay attention to the rest. Just one more thing, DON'T FORGET TO VOTE! EVERY VOTE COUNTS.

from christina in california

Dear Charlie,

I have to seriously agree with you on the whole Republicans are bad thing. I mean, not all of them, but the majority. They seem to think that winning is the most important, but really think about it, shouldn't we all be on the same side. What they need to do is stop fighting the Democrats and ban together. They need to realise that what they truly need to fight for is to keep their supposed beloved country, well a country. America is really messed up right now. Honestly, I'm not sure Kerry will do better, but I'd rather support him because he can't do much more damage than what Bush had done. I am an American, and that is something that I will yell at the top of my lungs, but when asked who my President is, I say, a guy who refuses to see that he is hurting the nation he supposedly loves so much. "Step aside mate, let somebody who can help us out take over!" As for the whole Europeans don't like America, I don't know why people say that, I mean ! I have many friends in England and other places in Europe and they still love this country! Who else matters? The people who aren't helping us over there? Well what they need to do is get up and realize that America is still the number 1 nation! Who are they to speak when they are hiding in the shadows? In my opinion, Great Britian and the other nations helping us are the only ones who have any right to an opinion at all! Once again, thanks for your opinion, I think very highly of you and have a great deal of respect for you, and it is always nice to hear what other people think. Update again soon,

from liane in germany

My respect to Charlie for putting negative comments on this site.That is true democracy . I?m wondering why some of the latest entries are so critical and as one lady pointed out for Charlie to stop being "Hollywoodisch".Well if you are older than Charlie you should know that it was Hollywood greats such as Jane Fonda and Joan Baez the singer among others who protested against the Vietnam war and informed what was really happening! The thing was, they HAD no websites to voice their opinions.

I don?t think one should judge an actor`s views with his work as they are two different things. I think because Charlie is educated ,a new citizenof the US of around 3 years and a caring family man, that he took the right of freedom of speech which is always promoted in the US, to voice his opinion, and his website ,is his way of doing it. I think he is well aware of the consequences that could arise if he went too far out.

I met Charlie once and I can say in that short time I found him to be a very down to earth chap and worried about what is happening in his adopted country, not only the Iraq war but other things such as education , the enviromental problems and so on.

As for Bush and Tony Blair being capable!! Well thank goodness we don?t have to be of the same opinion, Tony Blair is getting so much criticism from all walks of life including some very prominent actors , whose shows (theatre) are still packed and no one compares their acting with their political opinions, maybe that is the difference between the Brits and the Americans!In Britain one has always been able to voice one?s opinion!! Maybe that is one small "remmnant " that Charlie has kept from his old country.L.

from alice in texas


I just got through rereading your last soapbox and your two addendums, I especially liked the one from Garrison Keillor. As a response to your soapbox, I believe one of the problems with George W. is that he is naive in believing that WE can bring peace to the Middle East. They have been fighting over there amongst themselves for centuries, therefore I think they are the only ones that can bring peace to themselves.

As for us unfortunately we try and depend on the government too much. The issues of medical and education can be brought more under control if we would only look at our own lifestyles. We are a free country yes, but our freedom comes at a price and I'm not talking about fighting wars.I am talking about drugs, alcohol, smoking and other bad habits. These all impact our society greatly.(Think drunk drivers and any criminal act.)People who do these things,especially on a consistant basis, effect both themselves or someone else from a medical and educational standpoint. We are a free country, but some people take great advantage of that and that is one reason that we unfortunately need a bigger government than what everybody wants and it costs us. Thanks as usual for your insight and letting your fans give theirs.

from karl in illinois

Mr. Shaughnessy:

Thanks for your view on the current political situation. Staying as brief as possible, you have created the final "straw" that will dictate the way I will vote in November. Thank you again, AND for including Mr. Keillor's article as well. Take Care.... Best wishes!

from linda in texas


I visited your website a few weeks ago a few times. First of all, so you won't be completely disgruntled with me, you, (as Shane and now Maxwell), Fran, Lauren, Daniel, Matt & Missy (from "Days) are my favorite television celebrities. I wrote you a couple of notes already. But I became upset when I found in your website your recommendation for anti-Bush writings and Michael Moore writings. I'm a little older than you, so I don't feel I'm being disrespectful to you, but I think President Bush is a tremendously able president and Prime Minister Blair is a wonderful person and a very able leader. To me the Hillarys and the Michael Moores of the world are schmoes! Why would you use your website for political purposes?

I was ill this past week, and since I have taped most all "Nanny" episodes, I had my own little "Nanny" marathon, and despite being ill I still felt like laughing. That is what I want to think of when I think of Charlie Shaughnessy and the wonderful family man who he is, and not the anti-Bush stuff. I hope you don't think I'm being ugly, and I wouldn't even have brought up such a thing in a fan letter if you hadn't brought it up in your website. This is the first time I've been back to the website since I read that stuff. I feel so passionately about this at this critical time in our country.

I wish the best for you and your family and hope to enjoy the "Nanny" reruns and the reunion for many years to come. I hope to see you in many other endeavors.

I have many friends who also watch "The Nanny" on a regular basis and we all just love it.

from linda in texas


Since I just wrote you an email about 10 minutes ago, I read your article about why we should vote for Kerry & Edwards. I couldn't disagree with you more. I, too, refuse to be shy about how I feel on this critical matter. You said you welcome the emails of fans who disagree with you--I am almost in tears because I disagree with you so much on this matter. You're a wonderful family man and I enjoy watching you act so much, but I do get upset when I try to watch your acting, because I get it all confused about how you are being so anti-Bush. Please don't be so "Hollywoodish". I couldn't believe it when I was so passionate about the book recommendations you put in your website and felt such a need to write you about that, then just as I completed that email, I find that you had written the long anti-Bush and pro-Kerry "Soap Box" article.

I had heard and read that you are a very educated and eloquent writer. I believe that, but I believe there is such a thing as being so intelligent that you lose sight of the common man, and that's just what you and Kerry do. I'm so sorry for saying these things to you, but I feel so upset that you try to use our "fanship" to promote Kerry & Edwards for President and Vice President. I would not vote for them if they were the last men on earth! Please let me know in some way that you aren't angry with me for venting my feelings. I'm a very sensitive and passionate person, and I don't like thinking someone would be angry with me because I don't agree with them.

My best to you and your family,

from linda in texas


I went back (tonight is the first time I realized what the "Soapbox" section of your wesite was) and read them all. I really wish I had stayed ignorant. It has probably ruined watching "The Nanny" for me and your other works, because when I see you all I will think about are the things you wrote on your "Soapbox". I feel so sad. I still don't want you to be angry with me for feeling this way. I'm a little older than you are, but I am not ignorant. I graduated third in my class in a school in Cincinnati, Ohio. I know now why I've always felt a person can be over educated and lose sight of what the common man is worth.

from victoria in massachusetts

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy

I just read the most recent addendum.

What happened to the rule that the response was to be original to the author? You have permitted no-one else to post the thoughts and words of others. Should you not be playing by the same rules that you have imposed on everyone else?

from liane in germany

Hello Charlie,

Unfortuneately at present (22Sept) it seems that George Bush may win the elections if so, then the tragedy will be absolute!

When I read that artistic freedom is abused when it is against him, or when a mother was arrested whose son was killed in Iraq raises this question what for, at a rally where Laura Bush was speaking,makes me think is America ,really a land of freedom and civil rights? These of course have been strongly cut throrugh the "Patriot Act" .I am truly distrurbed by the way the Election Campaign is being made to a personal "fight " between the two candidates, there are more serious problems at present than who did what in the army. This to outsiders seems juvenile. I still hope there will be a change in Government, but at present it doesn?t seem there will be ,and then chaos will begin.I hope that at least some people will change their minds especially as it has been mentioned there are plans to bring in conscription again, which means escalation!

I have just returned from a visit to the US, and am shocked at the indifference of some people! I quite often got the answer?"we?re still doing well , why alter things"! I must admit this was in a rural area , where I thought people would protest as their cost of living has gone up since the Bush administration came into office. For example , for gas which is needed for heavy machinery which they need to exist.This area is also known as the Bible Belt( one of the locals used this idiom) who admitted that the local church minister received a "donation" from the local Republican Rep. to preach pro Bush at church services.I assume this happens elsewhere as well. I found it very frustrating whenever I was asked my opinion (as a non US citizen)and when giving it, was told it was none of my business , especially if the criticism was negative on my part!

Also there is a certain paranoia as far as safety is concerned especially at airports. The people working there are so indoctrinated (I feel this way)to be nasty that one feels one is entering a jail complex!! old lady had to take off her shoes, NOBODY made a move to help support her,so I went forward to help and was stopped by two burly security guards!I If by chance any one in security should read this, remember it could have been your mom or granma. On my way back to Europe I had to go through London (Heathrow)and I must say although the Brits are in as much danger as the US or even more through the IRA, they somehow keep things low key in front of passengers and are more subtle in coping with the whole situation.Maybe US security could learn something there and not have these bullies on display!!.

It is18 months since the invasion of Iraq and what has it brought the world? Death, kidnapping and now murder of innocent workers. I hope that these incidents in the last few days will open those peoples eyes who STILL think what Bush has done, and is doing ,is right.

So Charlie I hope with all my heart that Kerry does make it even if he won?t be able to keep all his "promises".If not, which at present it seems so, America will have more image loss and will have to live in continuous fear of terrorist attacks. L.

from susanne in austria

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

"We have led, many have joined, and America and the world are safer."

As George W. Bush, 43rd selected President of the United States, gave his acceptance speech at the Republican Convention Thursday night, approximately a thousand people were held hostage in a school in Beslan, Russia. Many, if not most of them, were innocent children. A few hours after "War President Bush" had talked about freedom, world peace and his safer world, at least 155 CHILDREN were killed. This world can be so bizarre, and joy and grief in life can lie so close to each other. While balloons are falling from the ceiling on one side of the globe, father's and mother's are carrying the blood covered bodies of their sons and daughters across a school yard on the other side of the world.

Are you proud of yourselves, you war presidents and prime ministers out there? Before you came, the life of our children was still sacred, their innocence mankind's greatest good, their life our greatest possession as it held the potential for a better future. Now your war politics have turned them into breathing targets. It was already terrible enough before when terrorists attacked hospitals, but at least most terrorists had the decency to spare the children at school. This is your free, safer world, Mr Bush? A world where we have so much freedom and democracy that we cannot let our children out of sight for fear they might be kidnapped, held hostage and eventually be massacred by cruel, hate-driven terrorists?

Isn't that a little bit hypocritical, to speak of a safer world, and announce you are responsible for "this safer world"? In a moment like this? Isn't it a little bit hypocritical if the president condemns abortion, the killing of innocent unborn life, while he sends young soldiers to war to leave their innocent lives in Iraq?

Isn't it a little bit hypocritical to speak of a safe world and the value of life, while you practically challenge terrorists to come to your country to kill your innocent children because you did the same when you brought unfounded war - nicely wrapped up in the terms liberation and pe-emptive strike - to an innocent people and killed their children? Right, in war this is called collateral damage.

And while we're already touching upon the topic of abortion: Doesn't this show the double moral of the fundamental Christians in America? Life is life and as such should be valued and protected. Isn't that what they always remind us of, when they say we shouldn't play God and decide over life and death and abolish abortion? Can the very same people please explain to me why death penalty is okay but abortion not?

I wonder how Mr Bush will cannibalise the tragedy in Beslan for his political agenda. Pray for the hostages he asked you that Thursday night. Pray we will be spared a tragedy like that in our country, he will tell you next Thursday. To ensure that you have to vote for me, because I am the only one to prevent it, not that softy Kerry, he will reason. Yes, Mr Bush, is running for president again, "with a clear and positive plan to build a safer world." Mr Bush, make sure you present the details of your bright plan to the world, BEFORE 155 US mothers will mourn the death of their children, BEFORE 155 US fathers avenge their incredible loss by becoming terrorists themselves, BEFORE 155 US families bury their sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, BEFORE 155 US innocent children leave their lives scared and traumatised to death. No, forgive me, do it before it happens anywhere in your safe world again!!! You owe it.

Until you do so, I will continue to believe that what America and the world really need is: Someone who will not risk thousands of lives unscrupulously but prefers diplomacy to senseless bloodshed.
Someone who will take his people seriously and not distract it with specious wars.
Someone who will make sure that Americans are not only safe, but also healthy and working.
Someone who will give preserving earth and natural reserves the priority over oil drilling, economy, and industrial environmental pollution.
Someone who will invest into our future by ensuring that children get the education and opportunities they need to fulfil themselves and contribute to a better society one day.
Someone who will not curtail privacy and human rights in the name of counter-terrorism.
Someone who will fight the roots of terrorism as well and not just terrorism itself.
Someone who will have the strength to take the action he deems necessary to lead and protect his country and yet at the same time have the wisdom and considerateness to choose his actions wisely and objectively with the international support of other countries, not persuaded by a minority of right wing lobbys and most of all not due to personal motivation. I can very well imagine John F. Kerry to be this someone.

Let's face it, Mr Bush has only one plan to win his re-election and that is your fear and worries. He gives you promises to take them away from you, while in reality he abuses you. Don't you see how he uses your fear for your own safety by "staging" new terrorist threats each time he needs a boost for his popularity? Is that the kind of leader you want? One who uses you and plays with your fears? You might say, well, better be safe than sorry. Fair enough. I take the liberty to remind you of the cry wolf fable. When you cry wolf all the time, nobody will believe you when the wolves come to attack your village for real. And they do always come...sometimes in sheep's clothing.

from lindsay in texas

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy:

I've already replied to your response about your soapbox before but in light of recent events, I have something to add to this.

I will no longer be voting for John Kerry this election. In fact I'm not sure whether to vote at all. Part of me wants to vote for Ralph Nader because he's an independant party. I still don't know whether I really like Bush or not but as the months and the election year drags on I'm beginning to see a change in both of them. I mentioned I wanted John Edwards to take the seat and I still do. I'm in American government this semester in college and my professor is a lawyer from Illinois. I admire and respect her and she's offered me a lot of insight on this election. I don't know why the american people chose John Kerry over Edwards. Kerry is a flip-flopper who can't make a straight choice. I think he says promises to the people in order for him to gain votes but when it comes down! to important policy decisions, he chickens out. Yes I think Bush is doing whatever it takes to get him votes but I admire him for being a religious leader. My priorities have been shifiting from one way to the other and for some reason now the thought of Bush for another 4 years doesn't seem too terribly bad. I mean it won't be the greatest idea but it's something that's been on my mind.

As for the war in Iraq I firmly believe Bush needs to withdraw our troops. Iraq has said once before that it will continue to keep fighting us because we are fighting their battles for them. Instead of marching in and invading their country I think we should take a step back and let them handle their problems. I mean we have done all we can at this point. We took out Saddam, we restored their government to a democracy and have even given out grants to the country to help rebuild their city. I think part of the reason Europe hates Bush so much is that he hasn't even bothered to ask and goes ahead with his plans BEFORE consulting anyone else. I reply to another voice who responded to your article. I do believe there is NO WAR on terror. Bush is only supporting what his father did back in the early 90's and is this any different? No...

My ticket will be for Edwards or Nader. As the election draws closer maybe I will have a better understanding who to vote for but for now I am keeping my options open. Thank you for letting us debate this issue and I look foward to your response.

from tiffany in illinois


I have to say, I have written this before, and never sent it. I have a lot of respect for you as a person, and I love the Nanny, and you. But I think that Hollywood and the press need to chill on blaming Bush for everything wrong in the world. Hunger--Blame Bush---The Hurricane Blame BUSH--My tonails are too short BLAME BUSH. People make mistakes. Bush has made mistakes. I will not deny that. At least he is man enough to admit, he was wrong. I have to say though that John Kerry, is not a saint, that everyone makes him to be. John Kerry was on the Senate ( voted for this) when the Cliton admistration, got into that whole thing-- that ended up making a movie--Black Hawk Down... I have friends that were in Special Forces and that time and they say that was the worst part of thier life. Everyone has a horrible war story. MY father who is a Viet Nam Vet, will agree, but the people behind that, whole start, was Kennedy. A lot of the time the Democratic party starts issues, and the Republican party cleans up the mess, and get blamed for it...

The Democratic party spends money, and then the next guy has to clean it up. The Clinton adminstration, did not pass on some information, about, terrorist activity, involving plans in the US, and 9/11 happened. Bush cleaned it up.. People wonder were did the WMD's go? Saddam had time to ship them out before Troops invaded. They are not in Iraq now because he had time to move them, or destroy them before we invaded...plain and simple.

The other thing, I think President Bush acted on instinct, hear and soul, with Iraq. He was mad. Anyone else could have done the same thing. Coming personally now,(I am 25 now, this is my third election to vote in) when 9/11, happend I felt angry too. I wish, that he had made that whole area a parking lot. It may sound cruel, but that day angered me, as well as feeling a sense of loss. I am a fire fighter...and I am glad we got even with them. I did not know anyone killed that day, but I feel as if I did, and to think about it, I want to cry still. As for Bush and the rest of America, I feel that he has improved, everything, and the area's he is behind in, well He has had more to deal with, than other Presidents. I feel, that Bush is man enough to run the country, and he is honest. And he goes heart and soul in everything he does. He fights a clean fight. And he stands up for what he believes in.

To further attack Kerry, he voted against, the war in Iraq, in the 1990's. This time he voted for it. Then a year later, he votes, No on funding Iraq. What if the government, did the same in Viet Nam? I have to ask that, how would he feel--knowing that the government did not back him with $$$. And that guy was now running for President. Kerry also changes his mind often. He goes from hating Edwards, to making him his running mate. Come on man make up your mind--stick to your guns on an issue. I have to say, the next few months, are intresting. I think people need to hear all the facts, and not just pieces, that the press wants you to hear. I have to say, Bush for me in 2004.

I know we have differences... I don't mean to attack your guy, but I don't think he is right for the job. As 9/11 comes around this week I just ask you say a prayer for those who died that day. They were men and woman mom's and dad's who went to work, thinking I will see my family later. That never happend. There is not a thing in the world to fix that. We can only pray for them and comfort them.

from joe in new york

Dear Charlie,

I know that the "Elephants" have been attacking us "Donkeys" lately. As a Member of John Kerry's campaign team/ volunteer team, getting his subscription e-mails, John Kerry and Mary Beth Cahill, his campaign manager, have said "We will NOT GO NEGATIVE!" Althought the Democratic Commitee have unleashed many attacks against Bush. I do not understand. That's my opinion. Thank you!

from shannon in california

There is no war on terror. If we face that fact, then everything George Bush and his Neo-Con imperialists have been selling us is called into question. That was the opportunity lost last week by Senator Kerry, and it is the lie that will lead us further down the dark path of isolation, danger and ruin on which we are presently set. There is no WAR on Terror. There is a war in Iraq. It was launched against an unpleasant dictator, without whom the average Iraqi does not have to live in fear of his or her life, but he had little or nothing to do with 9/11 or Terror.

How many car bombs, ambushes, suicide bombers were there in Iraq in the years leading up to the invasion? Compare that to the number since. Pretty funny way to wage a war on terror when the waging of the war itself increases the Terror from zero to sixty in a few short weeks! If truly there is a war against terror, then when did it start? and how come we haven't heard about it in those terms before now?

Did 9/11 signal the outbreak of hostilities? In which case what was the massacre of Israeli wrestlers in 1974? What was Lockerbie? What were all the bombers and killers down the ages, who have struck at innocents in the name of political expression? Here's a thought: what about those brave patriots who lay in wait for British Redcoats to come out of the barracks before mowing them down in a hail of smooth bore?

There is no WAR on Terror. Terror is a disease that has permeated the globe since one man felt frustrated by the power of another. It predates Masada, Moses and The Flood. Like a cancer it has to be attacked with precision, intelligence and a clear understanding of the whole picture. That is why Senator Kerry used the word "sensitive" to describe his approach to this prickly global problem, and it is why this administration, despite all it's bombast and rhetoric, is actually leading us down a path to isolated and terrifying vulnerability.

from bea in florida

I am hesitant about sending this e-mail to you. I wrote to you some time ago and got no response---but here I am again. Let me preface what I am about to say bo stating I was a registered democrat since the days of F.D.R., the depression, Harry Truman, JFK, etc, and supporter of their ideals. Politics today is all about money, greed, and power. I will not elaborate on how misguided I think you are and most of the Hollywood crowd, who should stick to acting and not enter the political arena. When Ronald Reagan appeared on the scene, my eyes were suddenly opened and so was my mind. I stopped believing the news media and their propaganda and did some fact-finding on my own. Good Democrats vote for the ticket and what they are told most of the time.

Charlie, my father was born in White Chapel, London, of Jewish parents, who came to America. He married my mother, who immigrated from Poland, and who lost her entire family during the holycaust. My parents raised their children to love America and the freedom it gave us. We weathered the depression, got married, my husband served in WWII, fought in Europe, returned home to a proud nation and made a good life for ourselves. My husband would be devastated at the way our country is now divided with such hatred spewn at people we disagree with. With the choice I have of John Kerry vs George Bush, I will vote for George, who I think is the man to lead us the next four years. Right or wrong, he has stood his ground and does not depend on polls to make decisions. Your choices (especially Arianna Huffington and Michael Moore, turn me off completely. Forget Mr Kerry's service in Vietnam. Where was this man during his years in Congress, when his vote may have counted for something (let alone his lack of appearances during their voting time). He is a flip-flop kind of guy, who I cannot see as commander of chief, and he frightens me. He and his wife have no concept of the common people or their needs. He just wants to become President and that turns me off! He has no record to speak of and I had hoped for a man like Joe Lieberman, with values, principles, and heart, or his like to run for office, but there is no such animal this time around. At least I know the administration in office now and there is too much at risk for the survival of the world. Mr Bush inherited his office at a terrible time in our history and has stood up to terrorism around the world. France and Germany are not our friends and I bless Tony Blair for his friendship and loyalty to America.

Charlie, if I may, do not enter the political arena. You can't win. You can share your beliefs with people but do not tell them who to vote for. I have lived a long time and for much of that time, have voted for democrats just because they were on the democratic ticket. I feel they have deserted everything I once believed in and am now an independent voter and thinker, i hope, and will vote for the man and not the party! I have been a long admirer of the Nanny cast and if this makes little sense to you, let me at least wish you and your family the best of health and good fortune in all your future endeavors and thanks for listening. I probably am the same age as your parents and they should be very proud of you. I am!

from sandi in wisconsin

My name is Sandi Lash and I am from a small town in Wisconsin. I read your soapbox entry, and I found it intriguing. Even though I've been brought up to be a Conservative, I am not a radical in any sense because I am too often torn between the Republican and Democratic issues and views of each party. I am also quite the little cynical sprite while it comes to the media. I don't really trust everything I hear. However, if something sounds logical to me, I will sometimes believe it. But it is beginning to become quite hard to know who to believe these days. I've noticed that somehow, all of the political channels like CNN, Fox News Network, MSNBC, etc. are all claiming that they are "the most trusted news network on television." I find that hard to believe. It takes me a long time anyway to see if I can trust a friend of mine whereas believing someone on TV whom I've never met before. Every person on television, whether they admit it or deny it, is a actor or actress. The purpose of television is entertainment. If an anchor of a news network show wants to entertain their audience, I know that it is possible that they have to go to the lengths of lying to millions upon millions of viewers. Then, when the other networks see that their own audience is being lost to another, they, in turn, might also spread juicy gossip or rumors about that network or will show a story that opposes that one network story. So, with all this lying and deceivement going on in the media, I find it very difficult to trust anyone's judgement. Because of my conservative upbringing, I do like some of the views of President Bush, however, I don't feel that he is going about this issue of war in the best possible way. Even though I am a Conservative, that does not in ANY way mean that I like war or that I want to be killing the innocent. I want peace in this world just like everybody else, but it's pretty obvious that those terrorists are not negotiators in the sense that they already hate us. I do agree with some of Kerry's views, too, but not all of them. So, I consider myself a moderate republican. I respect your views, Charlie, and I wish I could vote, but I am too young unfortunately. I just turned 16 on August 15th. :o) I'm happy about that. But, anyway, good luck with your future soapboxes and with your future ventures in the entertainment business. I hope to see your name up in lights at the Marcus Theater in Milwaukee, Wisconsin one day. I just want you to know that I respect you as both an amazing actor and as a passionate political commentator (hehe). I hope you and your family are doing great. Peace, love, hope, and joy to you, Charles Shaughnessy. :o)

from cindy in illinois

All these issues and opinions. Sounds like we have some very educated and opinionated voters. However, no one has brought up the issue of drugs in the rural communities. Meth is now the new cheap drug of choice. More addicative then heroin, or crack; this is the new rock anphedimine of choice. The abuse of it by teenagers in the midwest is spreading at an alarming rate. Due to the toxic chemicals used to make it (like Dranio, and Anhydrious ammonia) it's rotting teenagers and young adults from the inside out. Users stay up sometimes 4-5 days in a row. Rotting teeth, open sores that they constantly pick at,infections, ect. Until finally, they die from heart failer. The hardest habit forming drug in the world to kick. The quickest to become an addiction. Meth taxes local law enforcement resources to the point of breakage. It's most commonly manufactured in small midwest farming communities of <10,000 because this is where they get their ammonia supplies from tanks in cron/wheat fields. Now big city gangs from Chicago are growing and recruitting gang members in rural communities to manufacture and deal meth. Why are Kerry and Bush not bring this topic up during their campains? Have you heard of this problem yet Charlie, or is it not talked about as much on the east coast? As a dentist, I can tell just by looking at my patients eyes and teeth that they use. Most will become denture patients by the time their 30, if their not dead before then.

from meme in wisconsin

Good evening Charlie,

I have enjoyed reading everyone views regarding the upcoming Presidential election. On the evening of August 23, I was one of about 4000 people who heard Senator John Edwards speak in LaCrosse Wisconsin. At this rally we saw people of all walks of life. I was able to take my two boys, who where very excited to see the man we hope is the next vice president of the United States.

I live in Western Wisconsin and in the past we have seen a number of candidates come to LaCrosse, from President Clinton to President Bush. Four years ago Al Gore kicked off his race for the white house after the democratic nation convention in LaCrosse. This year alone Howard Dean, John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, John Kerry, Vice President Cheney, and President Bush have all been to LaCrosse. The major reason we have so many candidates in the state of Wisconsin is because we are a major swing state.

But in having a chance to hear John Edward and his daughter Cate talk to the crowd, he had me feeling the hope that I will be able to send my children to college and not have to work pay check to pay check to afford to live in my home. He also made feel that I will not have to leave with the fear we have lived with for the last three and half years under the current administration. Senator Edwards can lift up a crowd and also has a wonderful sense of humor.

He also spoke about the loss of jobs and healthcare in the state, Wisconsin has lost 65,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001. We have seen a 21% rise in unemployment, 132,000 people have lost their healthcare and 538,000 have no healthcare. These are number the scare me. As I have seen what happens to families that have lost a major source of income do to a company downsizing and sending the jobs over seas due to cheaper labor. It is not fun to see plant after plant close. I live in a city that most of our neighbors work in the manufacturing area and some have closed. I am sorry but when you look for a new job after making $15-$20 an hour to go to work in retail for minimum wage, you can not support your family. A lot of people are ending up working 2-3 jobs just to make ends meat, this is not what I want to do. I want to raise my family and be able to afford to take a nice vacation once a year.

President Bush also wants to short change our Veterans, he has proposed to cut their needs. Here in Wisconsin that would mean 497,000 Veterans would be short changed by $52.4 million, if re-elected he would cut an additional $17 million from Veterans needs. These are the men and women who served our country and risked their lives. We need to support our Veterans.

During this Presidential election year we, all americans, need to think about what we want for our future and our children's future. This to your own conscience and vote the way you feel you need too. I don't care if you are a Democratic or a Republican, just get out there and make a difference, because every vote does count.

from carmen in holland

First off all I would like to say that I love reading all the opinions in this soapbox. It's very nice to see how everybody feels about this subject.

I read your addendum (12 august) and I really have to say that I agree with you. A lot of people in Europe think that the government of the US is pretty hypocrite. They promise lots of things to the rest of the world even though they can't even keep these promises in their own country, how can people rely on these promises. I do think this is not just a problem in the US but in a lot of countries in this world, including the country I live in. It seems like governments only want to take care of other countries and not of their own. I do think you should help other countries, but don't forget your own.

President Bush is so preoccupied with this war against terrorism, that he doesn't even see the other problems, he doesn't even care what the rest of the world thinks. Sometimes it even looks like he enjoys this war. When is he going to start thinking about peace? When are people going to realize that fighting doesn't solve anything, but only results in fighting again and in hatred.

I agree that education is so very important. People should teach eachother to respect eachother, to listen to eachother, only than people can understand eachother and respect that everybody thinks in a different way and see that that's not a bad thing.

Children these days don't know what to think. I'm a teacher myself and I teach my children to respect other people and other peoples opinions. Children do agree with this, but every now and than they ask me why they should do this when the rest of the world is fighting and isn't respecting other people. They get confused/scared and I can't blame them. We talk about this a lot and in the end everybody (in my class) agrees that fighting is not the way to solve things, you should talk things out. These children are 10/11 years old and they already think about all of this. I find this very sad, children should be playing outside and not be thinking about war, let alone be living in one.

from joe in NY
Dear Charles,

Hello! Just in the past few days the republicans have been hitting Kerry's war record very hard and I can see the results in the conversations I have with my fellow workmates. Why oh Why don't the Dems start attacking the Vice Pres. on all of the garbage that he is connected to? There is SO much to pick from!!!!!!! Why??

from sofia in england

Dear Charlie,

Bush has turned a country that others admired or aspired to be like into one that they feel sorry for. At a time when he could have unified and strengthened America, he chose not to. His inability to strike an effective balance between domestic and international issues has been to the detriment of America-the economy is failing, lack of choices and funding in education e.t.c. e.t.c.

I have followed the election campaign with avid interest and truly believe that if John Kerry can deliver at least half of his promises then he is the next man for the White House. He is a man of vision with good solid plans, who strongly believes in future generations and because of this I believe that he'll help America restore itself, do itself justice and be that great country that everyone knows it can be.

I enjoyed reading this soapbox and look forward to your next,

from lauren in scotland

Dear Charlie.

What worries me is that people are voting for bush all because of ther religion, My self i will be hoping that kerry will be winning this election, last election i knew the minute that bush was given the job that trouble was on the way u just new. No one liked him from day one and all he talked about was war. This is from a man who went awol from the national guard and somehow managed not to get sent to vietman.

Kerry fought for his country even though vietman was a lost cause. A war that should have been won by the americans but wasnt. I have read a reply sent by someone saying that they will be voting bush cause they want a christian running the world again. As far as i know bush aint the leader of my country tony blair is and i hope also to see the back of tony blair as well as he was done nothing either. No one should vote for some1 cause they are the same religion as one of the candidates.

I hope kerry wins

from jean in tennessee

WARNING: You are about to get an earful of my ranting about American politics....but I actually agree with you for the most part!

Mr. Shaughnessy,

Oh my gosh I think we might actually agree on something! Small miracles do happen once in a while, I suppose. While I?m still not completely sold on Kerry, I do have to agree with you about Democracy. American Democracy isn?t simply about our right to choose who?s in power, it?s about so much more than that. Many countries have elections, even free ones, but few have the freedoms that we have here in America. And the fact remains that more people immigrate here each year than anywhere else, we have to actually turn people away because there are just too many trying to come in.

Why people actually want to come here has nothing really to do with Democracy, but it has a lot to do with the traditional American Spirit. That unbreakable American ideal that ALL people were created equal under God and under the law. We haven?t yet reached this ideal, and right now I think we are a bit off track. It?s not just the President, read entries in this very soapbox, we are all missing the point. America has never dictated to her people what to believe or not believe, yes it has been mostly Christian since the beginning, but not EVERYONE is Christian, and you certainly don?t have to be a Christian to call yourself an American. Since the founding fathers, Americans have rallied around our "right to choose", not just our leaders, but our values, beliefs, and opinions.

According to our constitution and laws, EVERY person in America (whether natural born or immigrant) has the SAME opportunities. Does this actually happen? NO, because we (as Americans) get hung up on the idea that ALL means people that aren?t just like us. We preach tolerance, but as a people aren?t very tolerant. We have laws that separate church and state, but we freak out when people don?t believe in the same God we do. We spend so much time, effort, and money bashing a presidential candidate?s character that we miss the real issues. In my hometown, people act as if you will burn in hell if you vote Democratic. They teach kids to vote on a candidate based on political status, rather than teaching them to vote for the best man (or woman) for the job. Not all "good people" are white, Southern Baptist, Republicans and I?m tired of being told that they are. What is American really about anyhow?

I?ve never read a history book that said we should kill all Muslims. I?ve never read that anywhere in the Bible either, for that matter. I don?t see where people of Arab decent are excluded from basic American rights. If anything our constitution says just the opposite, that NO ONE is excluded. Rights, Freedoms and opportunities are extended to ALL people. The men that flew the planes on 9-11 where Muslim EXTREMIST! They took a religion that teaches about the same thing the Bible does and they took a passage OUT OF CONTEXT! I?ve read the Koran, it doesn?t say anything about blowing up America! I?ve seen my parents and church leaders manipulate the Bible to say what they want it to say, so why is it so hard to believe that these people did the same thing? Christians have pulled some bone-headed stunts themselves, in the past. How many abortion clinics have been bombed in the name of God? Southern Baptist manipulated scripture so say that slavery was Biblical. Come on folks! ! You can?t blame a religion, a nation or a race of people for the actions of a select group of those people. That?s called STEREOTYPING and it does nothing but harm!

Mr. Shaughnessy, you were right, we are failing to meet our own ideals. We are so busy trying to ?fix? the Middle East that we somehow miss our own kids falling through the cracks. How can we fix anything until we fix ourselves? How can we export tolerance until we practice it at home? Until we stop fighting over God being in our pledge and start fixing the real problems, we aren?t going to be exporting anything but a flimsy ideal that won?t hold water. I can only hope and pray that the next President will see this and begin to fix the real problems. But whomever is elected in November, I honestly hope that we, as Americans, will put our differences aside and united behind our leader. This isn?t going to be anything that changes overnight, it?s going to take time. But time and effort always pay off in the long run. If things are going to change they have to begin with us, and that means it starts right here with me.

from anne in pennsylvania

Hi Charlie! Thank you, once again, for "voicing" your thoughts on such an important topic, "Election 2004." Your post has certainly generated some lively, thoughtful conversation. It was, though, your addendum of August 12th, Charlie, that really struck a nerve with me and prompted me to write.

I am 48 years old and have not missed an election, local, state, or national, since I became eligible to vote. This, however, is the first time an upcoming election has me so worried for the future of our country. When I read the comment you made in that August 12th addendum about the beauty of our Constitution protecting "the rights of the MINORITY, not the majority," I came to understand the cause of my concern; the chipping away of our civil liberties. In light of this post 9/11 atmosphere of fear and suspicion, your comment reminded me of just how precious those taken-for-granted liberties are.

This November I will be voting for John Kerry and John Edwards. From the information I've read, I believe the Kerry/Edwards ticket to be a more hopeful and positive one. I believe they have a vision of a more socially equitable, environmentally safer, and economically stronger America. Your comment, Charlie, about Kerry being a consensus builder gave me great comfort. Consensus building is one key attribute that our next president must possess.

While I agree that we cannot let Europe or other foreign communities dictate our foreign policy, I feel our current go-it-alone and seemingly reactionary foreign policy that is being pursued by the Bush administration is neither safe nor prudent. This policy has immensely damaged our relationship with the entire world community. Our next president is going to have the huge task of repairing our reputation and rebuilding those relationships. In addition, because of the sad state of partisan politics here in this country, he's going to have to possess the ability to negotiate and compromise. I believe John Kerry has those abilities. Unfortunately, I believe George Bush has shown, by his administration's performance and foreign policy, that he does not. Also, in my opinion, the Bush/Cheney ticket is a fear driven one. I've seen from them no domestic plan for the future and no optimism for it, either.

Thank you, Charlie, for providing this forum and challenging us to get informed and to think - not just follow.

You're a patriot. :)

from sofia from england

Dear Charlie,

Bush has turned a country that others admired or aspired to be like into one that they feel sorry for. At a time when he could have unified and strengthened America, he chose not to. His inability to strike an effective balance between domestic and international issues has been to the detriment of America-the economy is failing, lack of choices and funding in education e.t.c. e.t.c.

I have followed the election campaign with avid interest and truly believe that if John Kerry can deliver at least half of his promises then he is the next man for the White House. He is a man of vision with good solid plans, who strongly believes in future generations and because of this I believe that he'll help America restore itself, do itself justice and be that great country that everyone knows it can be.

I enjoyed reading this soapbox and look forward to your next, All the best to you and your family.

from rochelle in illinois

I have a challenge to all the Kerry supporters. This is not intended to be mean-spirited - I am truly trying to understand something that I find disturbing. Numerous statements have been made about how re-electing President Bush is scary, etc.

My theory is that those supporting Kerry are not truly supporting the candidate, but instead, are simply against President Bush. I cannot think of a more scary reason to vote - an anti-vote. Some postings have included what the writer believes Kerry will do for this country, but I ask, "What is his plan?" I watched the Democratic National Convention. I did not hear a plan for how he chooses to accomplish things. I can surmise that it will include a big tax increase, but he did not explain how he plans to pay for what he proposes. To all those that are against the wealthy or tax cuts for corporations, I say that no poor man has ever offered me a job.

One of the major reasons I support President Bush is that he is a man of his convictions. He recognized that the U.S. had a reputation in the international community for "cutting and running" as evidenced by the fact that even his father did this at the expense of those Iraqi's that rebelled against Saddam's regime during the Gulf War and were obliterated as a result. This, I believe, is in direct contrast to John Kerry. I do not believe he has any convictions - I believe he believes in what will get him elected, which has been illustrated time and time again. The most recent example of this is his criticism of President Bush's troop realignment plan. He now is critical of it when just a few weeks ago, he proposed the same damn thing!

I believe I am open-minded. I do not just blindly vote Republican. I voted for President Clinton in 1992 because he was able to express his disagreements with the incumbent and express his plan for how we would accomplish his ideas. I cannot comprehend how voters can support John Kerry using this criteria.

So if you disagree with me then articulate for me John Kerry's plan - not what he says he'll do, but what his plan to do it is. Charlie: I challenge you to do this also.

from christina in california

Once again I am writing to disagree with you. I wish I was old enough to vote (I have one more year to go), but even if I was, I simply don't think I would be able to vote for either one. I may only be 17, but I have been interested in politics from the time I was twelve. Let me explain why I wouldn't want to vote for either of them. President Bush is what I consider to be one of the worst Presidents we have ever had, and if someone were to ask me who we need, I would simply answer Bill Clinton, maybe not a great man, but a GREAT President! Pres. Bush has done so much damage to our economy, it is going to ta! ke a while to recover, while I believe he is doing the best he can, I think that we need more. As for John Kerry, he just changes his mind way too much. I think he more or less looks at what the polls say the American people want and then states that is what he believes. If he is going to be a! good President he needs to learn to stick by his own morals, but apparently he himself doesn't even know what they are. I am currently writing to some soliders over seas through an organization my mother is involved in I have heard what the soliders have to say, and I am now seeing the war from their point of view. I do think that President Bush is doing the best just about anybody of his status could do at a time like this, the problem is how we arrived at the current situations. So actually, I don't think I could vote in this election, because I think both candidates are very confused, (the sad part is one of these confused men is our current President). I was very exci! ted to hear your opinion on this, and know what you think. I take it y ou are a very stong Democrat (same as I am, or will be). I have a very deep respect for your opinion and everybody else's and I hope t o hear from you more often on the current events. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts

from sylvia in austria

Dear Charlie,

I don't know much about politics and cannot, due to lack of insight and overall understanding of it, give any detailed reason why to vote for this candidate or that one (in either my country, yours or any other for that matter). Still I do draw my own conclusions about certain events that go on in our world - conclusions rather based on my understanding of humanity than politics.

It seems to me that George W. Bush's vision of fighting terrorism has a lot to do with bombing and invading countries that harbor terrorists. He has proven in the past that he didn't care that people all over the world were against the war in Iraq and this attitude makes me wonder what would happen in the futur - he goes to war whenever he damn well pleases???? And it is absolutely correct - terrorism is not a sole American problem, it effects every country, but so do the actions a "Superpower" such as the USA takes!

I try to picture this: A little boy in (e.g.) Iraq, today: he's hurt, hungry, sick, his parents were killed by (western) soldiers, he's growing up in chaos and violence.... When this boy is a young man (maybe having lived through another couple of wars, since we are continuously fighting terrorism....) Is he going to say: "Great, the "West" brought us freedom and democracy" ..... ?????????????? Or is he going to remember the bombs, pain, hunger and - more damaging than anything - remember all the ADULTS around him blaming the "West"..... And BINGO - we have another terrorist-recruit!

I try to picture: (God forbid) another major terrorist attack somewhere in the "west": A little boy gets hurt, sees his parents being killed, he's traumatized and waking from nightmares for years to come..... When this boy is a young man, (maybe having lived through another couple of attacks, since those extremists are still leading their jihad in the name of Allah...) is he going to say: "A minority of Islamic extremists have savagely killed my parents - well, it was a handful of lunatics, no reason to condemn the whole Muslim world"...???? Or is he going to remember the shock, his fear, pain and - more damaging then anything - remember all the ADULTS around him blaming the "Arabs"..... And BINGO - we have another father raising his children to be afraid of a a hole race of people and their religion that, in truth, preaches exactly the same as any other religion: Love, Peace, caring for one another!

If we want to FIGHT terrorism, we can do that by continuously bombing and invading countries that harbor terrorists, but I am convinced that if we want to ELIMINATE terrorism, the only way to do that is through EDUCATION! It is EVERYONES responsibility (every society's, government's and every individual's responsibility) to educate our CHILDREN and teach them a new way of thinking! Education gives people hope for a future, it gives them the chance to help themselves (and not being "at the mercy" of other's good-will and compassion). Knowledge breeds tolerance, acceptance and the (noble) ability to admit that ones "own way is not the best and only right one, but merely a different way" (this is not my own quote, but I'd sure be proud if it was...)

True, solving such problems as terrorism through EDUCATION rather than the (so much more effective?????) WAR would take decades to show positive results..... But terrorists weren't created overnight either! It took !!! decades !!! to create them, feed their hatred and breed more and more of them! Our history books are filled with stories about wars - World Wars, Civil Wars... (even wars that the Pope of the Catholic Church himself blessed and declared a holy war - I believe, they called this particular one the "Crusades".... today, we'd probably call that one "Jihad" ?!?)

In EVERY country where people are not only allowed but even invited to practice their right to vote, they are in the position to give the (tremendous) power - and RESPONSIBILITY - to someone who KNOWS that Violence breeds Violence (as if there was a single person who hadn't figuered that out by now - and yet, it's still occurring on a daily basis!!!) and EDUCATION breeds UNDERSTANDING....

PS: I really enjoy reading all the comments from so many different people on the soap-box. Reading different point of views broadens one's horizon and helps to learn, grow, and furthers one's understanding. Keep on!

from lauren in scotland

Dear Charlie, Well said about the fact that no one should personaly attack anyone on this forum. It isnt here for people attacking others views we may not agree with what they are saying but hey no what would the world be like if we all agreed on the same thing. Wende i am taking it ure christian ureself, however i dont think u should vote for someone just because of there religion however i do respect what u have to say. I feel kerry is the man for the job and well 4 more years of Bush in power well i think that would be a bad idea. Would the 9/11 of happened if Bill Clinton or someone other than george bush been in power my opinion is no. Im not saying that GWB is at fault but well i think he gave the terriost a even better reason to bomb NY.

Im glad that sadam has been caught now he has been caught nothing has changed if anything it has got worse people are still getting killed. I dont think GWB is the man to sort out the war in iraq as i think Tony Blair aint the man to help britain either. I think it is time to give john kerry the chance to show what he can do and get the whole iraq thing sorted out and let familys get there loved ones home and let the iraqi people have there country back and have some sort of peace i think the iraqi people deserve that after years of and living in terror.

I dont think iraq will ever be a peaceful country. Sadam has gone which is good but 100 of others have no took his place. Which aint a good thing. So give John Kerry a chance i hope to see him voted in

from jessica in sweden

I, like most Europeans, hold my breath, and hope that Kerry will take over the White House this fall. It's pathetic and frightening that a country that calls itself "the worlds biggest democracy" elected a president who wants to take away a woman's right to decide over her own body! Some democracy. The world is laughing at Bush and his supporters. The US need to kick this clown out of the White House, or risk alienating itself from the rest of world. Or perhaps that was Bush's plan all along?

from lisa in oklahoma

Hello Mr. Shaughnessy,

I feel that this country needs four more years of Bush. He has taken a failing economy (yes, failing as early as ?98 when "paper" money began it?s decline) that was hurt even more by 9/11 and managed to turn it around so that we are in a slow, but steady recover. He has set in place programs for the low- to middle-income to receive assistance with home ownership. He has also made it easier for the disabled to obtain home ownership. He has signed legislation that has improved medicare (it is a beginning, all things have to start somewhere). He is working towards improving the mental health care system in this country?something that is desperately needed. Some of this you may be familiar with, some of it you may not.

On the war front...he is fighting two wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Our troops have found and captured Saddam Hussain. A new interim government has been set up in Iraq and free elections will soon be a reality. In Afghanistan, the Taliban has been removed from power but we are still searching for Osama. We will find him eventually. Have we found WMD?s in Iraq yet? Not that have been reported in the media. Have we found the precussors? In mass quantities. I believe, given time, we will find what we are looking for.

Now, I would like to address the Addendum of 12 August 2004:

Our founding fathers had the wisdom to know that a true democracy would lead to chaos and chose a democratic republic form of government instead. This method allows for the people to choose who will represent their voice in government. If we were a true democracy then our country would come crashing to a halt. Imagine trying to have each and every bill put before congress voted on by the whole of the county. Nothing would get done. Businesses would go bankrupt. Families would starve. Fights would be breaking out between neighbors over issues. Pretty soon, there would be fighting all over the country and then where would we be? Chaos.

I also feel that our government should not be catering to the will of the minority. "All men are created equal." There is no minority, we are all created equal. Creating different rights for different groups only divides people further. When we make laws that create special rights for one group then we loose freedoms. When we make laws that punish crimes committed against specific groups differently, then we loose freedoms. A crime is a crime no matter who is it committed against. The victim has been wronged and deserves justice not matter what group he/she is a member of.

What if free elections in Iraq bring a return to Islamic Fundamentalism? That is the chance you take with free elections. There are many things to consider in Iraq?s first "free" election. Two concerns for me would be 1)the registration of many of the fundamental militants who have come from other countries (it could be a possibility) and 2)out and out fraud. And, then, there is always the chance that the true will of the people is to live under Fundamentalism.

As for "separation of church and state," that phrase appears nowhere in the constitution. The amendment reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." The phrase "separation of church and state" came from a judicial ruling. In my opinion, it (the ruling) supports only the first half of the text while ignoring the second half ("or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"). I must also state here that I support not only the free exercise of Christianity (my belief system), but that of other religions equally. To learn about and to understand another?s belief system is to receive a gift that is immeasurable.

It is the Declaration of Independence, not the Bill of Rights, that says "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." And it is in this statement we are given everything. The right to life. The right to live as a free person. And the right to pursue our own destiny. We are not guaranteed success. We are not guaranteed good health. We are not guaranteed a home. We are not even guaranteed 30 minute delivery of our pizzas. But what we are guaranteed is the right to pursue all of these and more. We are only limited by ourselves in what we can accomplish. That is the original and only promise of America.

from melissa in ohio

Dear Charlie, Thanks to you for putting my comment up and to Liane in Germany. Since my last comment, I have become a Kerry Volunteer. Like I said, my friends and I would love to vote. Not for a joke, or for nothing to do, just to make a difference. Teachers in school always tell us, "If you want to make a difference in the world, then do something about it." Well, that would make a HUGE difference. I'm even considering to move to California where they are proposing to give 14 year olds like 1/4 of a vote. It's better than NO VOTE AT ALL!

Kerry Volunteers can make signs and help with fundraisers and everything. It's an honor and a privilege knowing that you're helping John Kerry into the White House. In just 3 short months, I will hear, "John Kerry is the next President of the United States of America!" I know that I can't wait. The polls that have been taken are too CLOSE. Let's change that! People supporting John Kerry need to tell their friends about him and why they should vote for him. Even if they are already for Kerry. After we tell them, it'll keep goin on and on and on and on until almost everyone knows our reasons to vote for John Kerry! Then those polls will go up, and of course, JK will WIN! It's sweet victory. Don't you agree?!? i I hope you do. Please, do anything and everything to help John Kerry in the White House. Thank you all very much!

from jennifer in ohio

Thank you for the opportunity to address something that I feel so strongly about - electing Sen. John Kerry our next President of the United States. I can?t imagine anything more important at this time. We have the ability to tell the Supreme Court that they got it wrong four years ago and instead of having a forced and appointed ruler we can finally elect the right man for the job. And why is he the right man? I will explain.

Jobs. In my home state of Ohio we have lost over 200,000 jobs in the last four years. Companies such as Huffy Bicycle have closed shop and moved out of the country, asking employees to help pack the trucks. Why is this happening? The answer is simple - because no one is stopping these companies. In fact, most have been rewarded with tax breaks for doing it. John Kerry wants to stop this. He will put into place a rewards program that keeps companies and good jobs here. He knows that to outsource is to destroy our most valuable resource - American labor. He will then enforce our trade agreements thereby making fair trade a fair trade again.

Education. Maybe the real reason why good jobs are being encouraged to leave this country is because we?ve decided not to educate and care for our children. With John Kerry as President we will have more than an empty slogan and harangues on teachers. John Kerry will return funding to education and work for smaller class sizes. He will support Headstart and after school programs. These programs have proven to help encourage children learn and become better citizens. Isn't that what we want for our future? Aren't we supposed to want to do better for our children? John Kerry wants to see something better and he'll work to make it happen.

Taxes & the Economy. Of course, it's hard to promote education and jobs when funding is cut on the national level and that in turn causes funding cuts at the state and local level. You see, John Kerry, as well as most enlightened people, knows that that is the only "trickle down" effect that ever occurs. Cutting taxes to the wealthy while giving nothing to the middle and lower income groups does nothing for the economy. The top 2% who get the money KEEP the money! John Kerry has an economic plan - something every president should have but that has been lacking the last four years. He will see that the middle and lower income groups are given tax credits and breaks that they need to provide for themselves and their loved ones. John Kerry knows that if everyone gets a piece of the pie, no one goes hungry.

War & Defense. Sadly, the world is not now or in the past a peaceful place. Sometimes war is the only way to protect the country. However, a "pre-emptive" war seems more the mark of a dictatorship than what is supposed to be a progressive democracy. John Kerry has fought in battle. He will never send US troops into battle without having clear tangible proof of its necessity. And it is because of his service and growing up as a member of a military family that he will support our armed forces. John Kerry will not cut the pay of soldiers causing severe hardships for their families. He will also stop the "backdoor draft". He is opposed to the philosophy in current vogue that says that because a person chooses to serve his or her country, that that person is now no better than a slave.

Healthcare. The healthcare crisis in the United States is real and enormous. Millions of people in this country have no health care and risk complete financial ruin and even homelessness if he or she has even a minor health problem. John Kerry knows that in a country as powerful and important as the United States of America this is wrong! As a senator he has fought for health care reform and as president he will introduce a plan that will allow all Americans the opportunity to have health insurance. You see that's what a president is supposed to do - care for the nation.

Personal Protections. Over the last four years we have seen our personal protections evaporate. We can no longer feel safe knowing that we have police protection as the current regime has ended programs that put more police on the street and at the same time made it easier for criminals to have guns. Somehow, that seems illogical to this writer and apparently to John Kerry as well. He will return funding to programs that protect us and allow us to feel safe in our homes again. But personal protections also entail other rights such as the right to vote. John Kerry will not allow millions of Americans to be disenfranchised. It is amazing to me that while we fight in Iraq to protect the Iraqis, opportunity to elect their own government, we are allowing more and more Americans to lose their right to vote at home. That's wrong and leads to appointed leaders rather than elected ones. John Kerry will continue to fight to protect our right to vote. In fact, he has already begun to do just that. In almost every state, he has set up a watch group to protect voters against illegal and wrongful barriers to voting.

Finally, I would like to be able to be a superior person and say that the most important thing to do is vote. However, I just can't. I do think that this year there is a definite right way to vote and a wrong way. If you are interested in a peaceful future where we are all empowered and have our rights and freedoms protected, then you will vote for Senator John Kerry. To do otherwise is, well, too sad to even contemplate.

from denise in brazil

Dear Charlie:

First of all, I would like to thank you for pronouncing your opinions and welcoming ours in this truly democratic forum. I also would like to thank each one of you who has been posting here, as to me, your comments are a source of continuous apprenticeship.

That said, I would like to manifest my repudiation towards Mr. George W. Bush. At first, I thought he was just a man of little culture and great conservatism. But, after his nebulous election, he proved to be a real menace to world peace. His administration is being marked by authoritarianism, censorship and abuse, that shouldn't exist in any civilized society. I've seen that, his xenophobic and homophobic government is leading individuals to all kind of fears, as he is spreading hatred and discrimination. His policy of arrogance, intolerance and violence is terrorizing the world and dividing a country that was more united than ever, due to the tragic events of September, eleven.

If I were a North-American citizen and had the power of voting, I would say no to Mr. Bush, in respect of those who were humiliated, in memory of those who had their lives taken, and in solidarity of those who are suffering the effects of this illegal war against Iraq, fomented in lies for egocentric purposes. I am really hoping that Mr. John Kerry, who seems to be, a decent, open-minded man, may be the next president of the United States of America, and may he bring back to this magnificent nation, which always had its basis in democracy, liberty and justice, the respect and admiration it deserves!

from rose in new york

Nicely done Charlie, and I can't "let you have it" as you so eloquently put it, it's not in my nature. I can, however, tell all of you how very confused and concerned I am about this election, this very important election. Here's what I know. We have choices, and four men I label as follows: A Waffler, a Personal Injury laywer, a Businessman and Cowboy. I am sure you have put the names to the descriptions and even smurked at a few of them. I could care less about time in the service, who has a butler, the ranches they own that are ranches in name only, the ketchup queens they are married to, what fast food chain they celebrate their anniversary at or the sexual orientation of their children. I think we all know that everyone's backrounds are not squeaky clean, (although that fast food thing holds some merit!) and all those running insult me by trying to get elected on their personal past. Yeah yeah yeah, it's what built their character. I get it, really I do. I will disre! gard all of it. What I want laid out on the table is their business records. Their business in the private sector, their business of elected office. Questions like, what kind of businessman is Dick Cheney? honorable? What kind of personal injury cases did Edwards take? (being from the insurance industry I'd love to examine these). What kind of record as a senator does John Kerry have? Did he really miss that many votes, and why? What kind of a record as governor did President Bush have? Was he really hated by Texans?

My friends, it's clear, a rock is a rock and will always be a rock. These gentlemen are established in their careers, their opinions are on the table, their feelings about taxes, war, gay marriage, terrorism, health insurance, abortion, etc. If they change their plans and outlook for this nation with the opinion polls, don't vote for them. Stand behind the people who stand behind what they have done and said in the past and still say today. Any chance I can vote for George Bush and John Edwards?????? What's a girl to do!

from jenn from canada

As a Canadian, it's interesting to follow international politics but at times the nature of politics and politicians make little sense. This is especially true of modern political campaigns and the current USA presidential campaign is no exception. It's absurd that something that has such enormous ramifications and consequences for the world's most powerful and prosperous nation, often deteriorates into character assassination, below the belt attacks, witch hunts in the name of various religious or moral convictions and 'selective manipulation' of the truth.

It amazes me that any American can make an informed and wise choice about who to vote for considering that each party and it's supporters seem bent on distorting perceptions of where they and their opponents stand on various key issues. If a candidate is speaking in a region that has lost jobs, he tells voters his opponent will endanger their jobs even more. If he's speaking to the executives of a corporation which supports outsourcing, suddenly he's for international corporate expansion and tax breaks. If voters could actually read and absorb every speech and statement each candidate makes, they'd likely be convinced that the most of the candidates and their speech writers are mentally unbalanced. Even the candidates seem confused at times, and in some instances, if politicians weren't so deadly serious, they might laugh along with us at some of what comes out of their own mouths.

I was watching the late edition of the Canadian news with an American guest a few days ago, when a clip of George W. Bush making a speech appeared on the TV screen:

?Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.? President George W. Bush - August 5, 2004

My guest groaned, shook her head and covered her face with her hands. She commented that once again, the rest of the world would see President Bush making a fool of himself.

Of course we all know that this is not what he intended to say but the problem is that most of what comes out of the mouths of Presidents, whether on purpose or by accident, affects not only what the world thinks of the USA , it can affect how the USA functions domestically and internationally. Ironically the quote above, from President Bush, illustrates much of what is wrong with modern politics and in this case, what is wrong with George W. Bush. What he says and does, can indeed harm the United States and the rest of the world if he isn't careful.

How your country is perceived matters enormously and how much confidence and trust people have in the abilities of a leader is a large factor in how well a government functions and how successful it is both at home and internationally. As a Canadian and as a North American, I can tell you that world confidence in George W. Bush is slipping at a rapid rate.

Why does it matter what the rest of the world thinks about your leader? Well, if the rest of us don't think the USA is doing the right things or if we lack confidence in or distrust your government, we tend not to offer to help you accomplish your goals and as all of us know, it's always beneficial to get help from your friends. Without world trade, military and financial support and humanitarian aid, any government can become unstable.

A world leader who lacks the respect of other countries may soon find himself very alone in times of trouble. The situation in Iraq is a prime example of this. As more and more countries lose confidence in the ability of the US government to find a successful solution to the deteriorating situation in Iraq, the US military and the US defence budget is being stretched to the limit as you are forced to bear the brunt of the responsibility and the astronomical cost for repairing Iraq. Surely this is not good for the American people as most of you already work hard to earn an living and care for yourselves and your families.

More ominously, if it appears to us that a leader does not respect his own people, the world populace and their governments will seek to undermine that leader in order to facilitate the election of someone who will better serve the needs and wishes of both his own country and the world overall. It is quite apparent that much of the world has reached this point. George W. Bush has not taken good care of his people, he does not respect the rest of the world and therefor he has lost our respect. It is time for us all to help chose someone else.

Let us hope that John Kerry and John Edwards are able to rise to the task and move past the ridiculous posturing that tends to characterize most Presidential campaigns. If they can, perhaps they can attain the highest offices of your nation and do their best to restore the confidence of their countrymen and the confidence of the world. Hopefully then your friends will return to your side and we can all take pride in the great nation that is USA.

Vote and vote wisely.

from stephanie in tennessee

I have to say, some of the answers in this soap box are pretty scary and have little to do with the election. In response to the person who said that Christians need to take over this country, you say that Democrats are close minded yet you seem to be very intolerant towards anyone and anybody non-Christian. I did not agree with somebody in this soap box comparing you to Hitler, that is a comparison someone should be VERY careful making but your comments on a Christian leadership do go to extremes. This country is home not only to Christians but to people of other or no religious beliefs as well and they certainly deserve a government that gives them the liberty and justice for all that is promised in the constitution. Mixing politics and religion is a dangerous thing as it will ultimately lead to discrimination and, if it comes to one group taking over like you suggested, a one-party dictatorship. I can tell you from experience that that is not how you want your countr! y to end up. As much as anyone is entitled to their own opinion, they have to accept that they do not live in this country alone and no one group is superior to the other.

from tammy in indiana

Every election is important. I don't understand why you say this is the most important one since 1945. My personal memory is longer than some :(, so I clearly remember JFK. With all his personal faults, he brought renewed "vigah" to the White House and optimism to the country. And attitude is tremendously important to a society. Then the election that saw Nixon elected-ooh, how we wallowed in that soap opera (forgive me, I don't mean DOOL!). It took time and effectiveness away from running our government. Now, I'm not a fan of the current administration and its Viet Nam-like war. However, what candidates say and what they are eventually able to accomplish aren't always the same thing. I've watched West Wing religiously and even tho it's only fiction it's a reminder that often in life, people of good will can be influenced by events beyond their making and control. So choosing a candidate is often more than a voter can handle, and certainly, no matter the winner, a course that no one can predict.

from allison in northern california

Mr. Shaughnessy

I have already posted for this soapbox, but everyday new things come up. I reread your soapbox and again I completely agree with your P.O.V. I also feel like you left out a number of strong positions that the Kerry/Edwards party has. I understand that you only touched on the points you feel are their strongest, but if you may I would like to add a few more positions that they hold, and how I understand them.

I would first like to discuss the "No Child Left Behind" position. The greatest gift that we can give our children is knowledge. I have many friends that are teachers and they are all so frustrated with their line of work. It doesn't feel as rewarding as it should to teach someone something new anymore. I am sure that we have all experienced learning and teaching and both have such a wonderful feeling. To give a child a chance to acheive his/her dreams would be the greatest accomplishment of Kerry's/Edward's time in office. They want to get eduacated teachers in the classroom, give the schools the propers supplies that they need. They want to give the children a place to go after school so that they are safe and not as tempted to be on the streets where they can learn many other things that we should be trying to protect them from. But they decided to go further than that. They want to make college an opportunity for everyone, not just those that have wealthy parents or a benefactor. Doesn't everyone deserve to make that choice, not based on money but the desire for a higher education?

I love the fact that they want to keep the enviornment clean. I really don't want I need to go into too many details about that. Just the fact that it is part of their plan means something to me. I do not feel that the man in the White House cares about the enviornment at all. How could one be so greedy?

They also want to make our economy grow instead of fall as it has been doing for the past few years. Many may say that this started with the Clinton administration and I don't want to talk about things that I don't know. Here is what I do know though. I graduated from college with a degree four years ago and I am working as a temp., I can't even find a permanent job! The job economy is slowly getting better, but it isn't where it should be. I should be better off right now, I have what it takes to make it, but I am struggling just to make it from week to week. I am tired of living from paycheck to paycheck. Kerry/Edwards wants to do the right thing. They want to keep the jobs here, why is it so easy for a company to outsource anyways? The jobs should be here for the American people. They also want to "Invest In The Jobs Of Tomorrow" Enough said about that.

The final thing (although he covers many other topics on his website) is his ideas for healthcare. He feels that if the country is full of healthy individuals then the economy will also be healthy. Who should have the say in who gets to see a doctor and get the medication they need and who doesn't. No one. Many people work 40 or more hours a week and still can't afford proper healthcare for themselves and their families. Everyone has the right to be healthy. I'm not sure if anyone saw the movie by Michael Moore "Bowling for Columbine" it wasn't so much a movie about that horrible day at the high school as much as it was about the accessibilty of guns in America. He also went on the path of healthcare here and healthcare in other countries. In most other countries everyone is provided with healthcare, and what was the result of this? Less stress. What came from less stress? Less homicides. bsp; I would imagine that it would lead to other things as well, more people going to work, people able to afford proper daycare, better for the economy, the list can go on and on.

I think that John Kerry and John Edwards want to make this place better for all of us and for those of us who have yet to become citizens of this country. We need someone to think of us first, not his pocketbook or whatever the people running the country may be thinking about. What I don't think they are thinking about is the average American People.

I know that Kerry/Edwards are making a lot of promises and I don't expect them to be able to accomplish everything they say. Though I do believe it when he says that "help is on the way." We need help, we need something to change and I will do my part to make the change by voting for Kerry.

Like I said in my earlier post my brother hadn't registered before he went to Officer Training Camp, but he has since he returned two weeks ago. We discussed the current political topics the other day and I asked him how he was going to vote. He said that his vote will probably cancel out my vote (he will be voting for Bush) but I don't care, as long as my vote is canceling out his vote.

Come on everyone, lets do our part and vote this November! Keep up the good work Mr. Shaughnessy, I always look forward to your soapboxes.

from carmen in holland

Dear Charlie,

I'm very sorry to see that the debate on your soapbox has turned in to a very religious debate, in which people are attacking eachother personally. I have always believed that eveybody has a right to their opinion and you shouldn't judge people about that opinion. Surely you don't have to agree with that person, but that is the great thing about debating these things. You can state your opninion and other people can state their opinion and if you feel/think differently, you can always agree to disagree and still get along just fine. Just because a person thinks differently doesn't make him/her a bad person.

Here in Holland we had a politician who was shot and killed two years ago, because people didn't agree with what he had to say, that was one of the saddest days for me. A man got killed just because an other person didn't agree with him. I also didn't agree with him, but you can make that clear by voting for somebody else and respect the people that vote for an other person.

If I had lived in the US at this moment I would vote for John Kerry, because I think he is the best person for the job at this moment, who really cares about the country, but that's just my opinion and other people don't have to agree with me. That's al I wanted to say. Thank you for reading my email. All my best to you and your family.

from megan in louisiana

I may not be able to vote but i have to say kerry is not the type of guy i would vote for he faked throwing his metals over the white house wall bush is not perfect but if i could vote i would vote for him over kerry any day

from liane in germany


first of all I was wondering when you were going to intervene in this discussion, as I also was of the opinionion this forum was getting out of hand. Admittedly I made a personal reference to someone on this forum. I apologise for this. However I had a reason for doing so, as I have has many private chats with this person and have become very frightened not only by these entries . I have been following all the American election campaign and it frightens me more than ever what is going on in the Bush "camp" .At present Bush is leading again as he has pepped up his campain on safety such that he has given a new safety warning and my lovely NYC looks like a military base(TV pics today)This I think is a lot of propaganda as this knowldge of apparent Al Qaida attack is on investigations from last year .SO since this warning Americans think Bush is the better for keeping the US safe and his cards have gone up.Which frightens me more than ever and not only me, but many I know in Europe and my home country Australia. I hope for you all that Kerry makes it for his integrety ,(yes he does seem a bit "stiff" ) with good arguments and finally with style which is missing at persent. I remember how President Carter was laughed at and called "the Peanut Farmer"and now he is an elderly statesman whose advice is often cherished by even his at the time, foes. So i think Kerry deserves a chance and one must not forget he does have some "good men " who support him( Kennedy, the Clintons etc.).

Thank you Charlie and again my apologies .I didn?t mean to help lower the "standard " on your forum.

from johanna in germany

Hi, What I have to say is that George W. Bush has no reputation here in Germany and in Europe in general. We cannot vote for Kerry but we all hope that Bush will be no longer the President of the USA. (90% of the European are against him...) So you see, if Bush is the President again we will protest even more than we have protested against the iraq-war. Hopefully greetings

from lauren in scotland

I think that kerry is the right man for the job. I aint american i am scottish but from what i have heared and seen of kerry he is the man. The man fought in a war was awarded medels. He can relate to what people in the forces are going throw. Bush can't he didnt go to a war yes he flew a plane but it was going out of service and wasnt getting sent to the war. He stayed at home how he managed to not get sent to vietman i have no idea. The man has war on the brain from day one he went on about war.

from kathleen in texas

I read what you wrote.

I have to stand against all when it comes to educating our youth. I don't think anyone is really out there helping.

I have 4 daughters. Two have graduated from high school and 2 are dropouts. Trying to even get them GED classes is impossible. I live in a border town and all we can find is Spanish classes. For an anglo to take a GED class I would have to pay $250 per child.

My girls would love to go back to school - the best would be a charter school. However in Texas we kick them out the day they turn 21. Or you can stay if you wish to pay $1000 per quarter. So now I have 2 ADHD children who have no education. I have 2 children being LEFT BEHIND.

I wish someone would address this. If they were educated they could get a job. You can't even work at Walmart without a GED.

I think that America should give free education to anyone for as long as they need it to finish high school.

Neither party seems to address this. They talk the talk but I haven't seen anyone in the past 30 years walk the walk or really do something about basic education. Thanks for listening.

from diane in RI

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

I held my breath as I read your prologue, not knowing where you were going- I was so glad to see you speak so highly of John Kerry. I agree with you 101%! I am a widow with 4 sons, 23,20,16, and 9, and this election IS very critical for our country and especially for me. I lost my husband in 2003 and my sons mean everything to me. I know the country will be a better and a safer place for them with John Kerry and John Edwards at the helm. My 3 oldest children and I have seen Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 and I know that I and my 2 sons of voting age are for Kerry all the way! If my 16 year old could vote, it would be for Kerry too! Let's keep our fingers crossed that America has the common sense to do better in 2004! Bless you for your candidness! KERRY IN 2004!

from elizabeth in minnesota

To: mysti from mass and wende in florida

I should really post two different posts because I think I could actually have an intellectual conversation with Mysti from Mass, so mysti if you're reading i'll actually answer the questions you asked me a little bit later... now for wende in florida

Wende you seriously need to help yourself... what the hell are you talking about??? "Christians need to take over this country and give it back to God." what is that??? see it's people like you who make me sick... you start your post off by saying "i have nothing against a person who isn't a christian, just some of their views." then you turn around and say that Christians need to take over the country... you know who you sound like right??? Adolf Hitler... except he was the opposite (you know he was againt Jews and felt the aryan race needed to take over)... but you two seem to think alike pretty damn scary don't ya think???

Why do you find it such a tragedy that gays and lesbians can get married??? Do you fear that they might one day "Take America from the Christians" or are you just a witch who is so closed minded that just because you're against it everyone else should??? You do know that the divorce rate for heterosexuals in this country is approx. 50% and that most get divorced within the first 2 years... 2 of my gay and lesbian friends are both in relationships with a significant other and they've been with their sig other for 4 years... i know people who don't have cars that long... the point is the two people love each other why should it matter if they are the same sex??? what's your stand on interracial dating and marriages...

Sure George Bush Jr. has made some errors, but who hasn't. Let the man try to get the war to stop. HE IS TRYING HIS BEST!... Did you read your post??? let the man try to get the war stopped??? are you stupid or just plain dumb??? he started the war... his own person vendada to avenge suddam for threatening to kill bush sr... may i ask you to ask God to tell bush where bin laden is??? my bet is he's hiding somewhere living it large... he must have some of the 3billion that bush sr gave him to get rid of suddam back during desert storm... You want to know why I think Bush sucks as president aside from the obvious ie taking away rights that americans have (not allowing gays marriage, a woman's right for choice), his education policy, oh but the big reason is: this supposed "Christan" can't even control his own daughters (shouldn't they also be holy than water if they are Christians??? ponder that bizotch)... fyi your boy bush doesn't care about anyone... he's signed more death warrants in the state of texas while he was governor then any other governor... but i guess capital punishment is okay.. interesting enough those two white guys that dragged a black man to death behind their truck didn't receive the death penalty... why do you think that is??? it's people like you WENDE who give christians a bad name... you try to shout your beliefs so loud that the only thing you hear is your own echo... oh and wende, if MYSTI is such a "great friend" of yours try to spell her name right... You spelled it wrong 5 times... you all are probably super tight...

Mysti in Mass to answer youre questions: I never said i was angry at you... you read to deep into stuff... could be that you feel guilty about something whatever it is I really don't care... just as I don't care about your life story.. good for you, you're paying your own way... if that was suppose to amaze me then sorry it didn't... i got lucky i can put a ball in a hoop and i got my education paid for it... See i like the way you CHristians work... you don't want to appear un-christian by calling me a liar so you politly say: "As far as the job/college question, I have filled out numerous job applications and college admissions forms and do not recall seeing a question about the armed services on them. But even if there was such a question on those forms, that is not a draft." (In answer to that if you have ever filled out any financial aid it asks if you are 18 and male and if you r if you have registered for the selective service).. I had a teacher like that once (one who thought she was better then me) she use to do that try to make it seem like she believed me when she really didn't... Selective serivce is a draft it's just not the same old draft from vietnam... it use to be by birthday that you got that call... but now they just press a button and whip a sheet of 18 year old (and older) guys to go... see we've improved now instead of saying "all those born on july 30t! h, you have to go to war" we now say "the following men have been selected for military combat..." and then proceed to name names... Tell me this why the hell should we help foreigners??? we have hundreds of thousands of people with out food and shelter... why help others before we help our own??? hey don't come crying to me when you lose your job to a foreigner who will do the same work for a lot less money... because guess what you can be replaced by a foreigner who WANTS to work for a whole lot LESS money... and you will be replaced... you need to understand that just because i am not sitting here saying that everything needs to be the way of the Bible, doesn't mean that i don't believe in God... you're not as holy as you try to portray simple slipups in your email showed that... you said that you don't think that the Pope is on any kind of pedestal or high horse... I didn't know that the bible taught hatred... that's why a lot of people are against modern day religion.. because ya'll walk around acting like christianity is the only religion out there... have you ever read the book of mormon or the koran... have you ever looked outside your realm of faith??? i assume not... you see unlike you I take the good from different religions and i harbor that..i believe somewhere in your long response you said something about not be prejudice and that you had your own beliefs... that's fine... everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but you are entitled to say that your beliefs are better then everyone else! 's and with one statment you did... And as far as me putting Bush on a pedestal next to the Pope, I don't. I am not Catholic, so I do not think the Pope is on any kind of pedestal or high horse.

All i ask is that you take your closed minded self and educate it on the other beliefs of other religions... just because you attend church doesn't mean you're a true believer in God... (you do understand that other religions believe in God also right??? you aren't that ignorant to think that you are that much better then them)

from jean in tennessee

Mr. Shaughnessy,

Why is it that we always seem to be on opposite sides of the political scale? Actually I understand why, but it has more to do with location and upbringing than anything. I've written a time or two before, so you already know that I've been raise VERY conservative and in the heart of the "Bible Belt". If you want to honest truth most people I know think Kerry is a nut-case, but that is THEIR opinions mind you, not mine exactly. I'm not totally convinced that Kerry is the right man for the job anymore than I am convinced that Bush deserves another go at it. But perhaps you or someone else might be able to clear some things up for me.

First off, let me say this. I admire Kerry's stand on education. It's about time SOMEBODY figured out it's cheaper to pay for the kids now than later! My mom was a school teacher for the public school system here in my hometown. Trust me I've heard my father rant and rave about how underpaid and such public school teachers are. He's very right that someone needs to take a stand and protect our kids and families. The AMERICAN divorce rate is higher than anywhere else in the world, we need to do something! After listening to Kerry's speech last night at the Democratic Convention, I do feel that he has the right ideas when it comes to schools and our kids futures. And I would know, TN passed a Lottery to pay for college scholarships for kids with a 3.0. Just one problem, it's the k-12 schools that are over-crowded and underfunded! How on earth is a scholarship going to work if the child can't read?

Here is my problems with Kerry. (1) What's the big plan for Iraq? He just says that he knows what he plans to do, but has remained extremely vague about his plans. How do I know that his plan will work any better than Bush's? (2) What's up with this "complicated issues" crap about why his voting record in Congress has been sorted at best. Things are only complicated when you make them so. Why can't he just say where he stands? I don't care if he's made mistakes, he's human for crying out loud! I just want him to act like he's human and give some real reasons. (3) Why is he trying to be something that he's not? The man has a BUTLER for crying out loud! HE'S NOT "ONE OF US"! I don't mind that he's wealthy, I have nothing against that, but I do feel strongly that he needs to practice what he preaches! If he campaigns to restore honesty to the White House, then he needs to be honest about who he is. (4) I totally respect that he's a vetern, so is my grandfather. But that was over 20 years ago, live in the present folks! Did he learn from that experience, yes. Does it make him a good Leader, not necessarily. History has proven time and again that good "War Heroes" can make sorry Presidents.(5) HOW IN THE HELL DOES HE PLAN TO BALANCE THE BUDGET?? We are a WAR! And in case you have forgotten, war cost lots of money!

Just to clarify, I'm not sold on either canadiate. I'm not really for or against anybody and I figure I have until November to decide. Needless to say, I agree that everyone should vote. I resgistered to vote as soon as I turned 18. Unlucky for me, my birthday is election day most years, so it's makes it fun to try to register. At any rate, if you happen by chance to know the answer to some of this, then please let me know. I want to make the right decision. I might be registered Republican, but that doesn't mean I have to vote that way. Mr. Shaughnessy, I think you are a great man who really cares about the future of this country and agree with you or not I totally respect and enjoy reading your opinions. I'm usually not this apt to ride the fence, but this is a difficult decision. SOMEBODY help!

from michelle in north carolina

Mr. Shaughnessy, I think it is great that you are so passionate about your views on this election. We all do need to get out and vote! I will be voting but I will be voting for Bush. I have my beliefs and I think for me that Mr. Bush is the one that gets my vote. I have not agreed with everything that Mr. Bush has done over the last 4 years but who has ever agreed with everything that a president has done. Let me say this because I have read some of the other views of people, I am a Christian! I have my opinion on abortion and gay people but I say that you only have to answer for yourself. We will all be judged one day.

from wende in florida

Alright, I am getting really tired of this whole soap box thing agains Pres. Bush jr. This nation needs to wake up to the truth! Christians need to take over this country and give it back to God. I have nothing against a person who isn't a christian, just some of their views.

Last night I heard a Jewish Rabbi on the Christian t.v. station who agree whole heartedly that this country has fallen away from how it started from back in the 1700's, and from God. He (I don't know if he is a christian or not) stands firm that this country is going down the tubs, allowing homosexuality and those who marry one. The Bible speaks of one man and one woman in holy matrimony, and that is how it is suppose to be! And any one who doesn't agree, it is their loss! BABIES ARE A GIFT FROM GOD!, even if someone who isn't a christian gets pregnant. And aborting the seed of a baby is not only murder, it is a great sin towards God! People who think they are taking away a seed of the un-born doesn't realize that that unborn really doesn't die, its spirit lives on and is sent up into the arms of God in Heaven.

And the young gal who was knocking down my Great Friend Misty in Massachusetts doesn't know what she is talking about! That gal doesn't even know Misty. Some of the things this young gal said about Misty isn't true. Misty is trying to do God's work, like us other Christians are trying to do.

Why doesn't anyone of you who is reading this just pick up "The New King James Version" of the BIBLE and start to read it and let it talk to you, let it sink in to you minds and souls and spirits! Let God speak to you! John Kerry ought not be president! Sure George Bush Jr. has made some errors, but who hasn't. Let the man try to get the war to stop. HE IS TRYING HIS BEST! And when he says he talks to his Heavenly Father for advice, that is the greatest things to do! We all need to do that! I know sometimes I make my own decisions, and I can say that isn't the right thing to do, we need God to make our decisions. And I only pray God's decision is to put George W. Bush back in for another for years! And after that maybe another Republican, unless five years from now if there is another republican that turns out really bad, then maybe I will change my mind. But Bush jr hasn't done a AWESOME job! yes George has made some mistakes, and I haven't agreed with all he's done, but GIVE HIM ANOTHER CHANCE! Democrates can be so closed minded!

Now if this is an offense to you who read this well it isn't me telling you this, I am speaking for all the Christians who may be afraid to speak their minds. Do you wonder, maybe God is telling me all this. Misty from Massachuettes, if you reading this please email me, and lets talk.

from mysti in massachusetts

To Elizabeth in Minn:

I am sorry you are so angry and it is obvious that the post I made on Charlie's website struck a nerve because your post attacked me and made assumptions about me when you know nothing about me to be angry at me for. You are angry, I recognize that, and when you said that you were of African-American descent and that because of that you feel this country does not care about you, I finally got down to why you are so angry. If you have been treated unfairly or unjustly because of the color of your skin, then I am so sorry. People who do that are ignorant, as I am sure you already know. Nothing I can say or do will make you feel any differently if you have already been treated that way and have your opinions and feelings about the subject due to the unjust way you and or your family has ever been treated. But just to let you know, I am sorry that racism is still a major part of a lot of this country's daily lives and beliefs. But recognize that you are not angry at me for we do not know each other and you have no way of knowing if I am racist or not or have ever done or said anything that has been racially biased. For the record, I have not, but how would you know that to be the truth? You dont know me. And on that note, I am prepared to tell you what it is you DONT know about me.

You said from my post you could tell 'the type of person' I am, and then you proceeded to list everything you thought you knew about me, which you said you found out by what I wrote about what I belief and who I want to be President. Well, Elizabeth, you are wrong about me. I did not grow up in the 'rich part' of Massachusetts. Both my parents worked, sometimes two jobs, to support their family, to make sure we had a roof over our heads, clothes on our backs, and food on the table. They also did it so we could enjoy life, and by that I mean, my dad was a big family man, and he liked being able to spend time with his ALL FIVE of his kids, so he worked extra hard so we could go on vacation every year to spend time with each other. I never went to a private school, and I did not grow up in a 2 parent home. My father passed away when I was 12 years old. I am in college now and my mother is not paying for it, I am. I have a full time job to pay my way through school. I am also not married. The only thing your assumed about me that was correct is that I have never done drugs, I do not drink, and I do not engage in sexual activity. But those last three things that I do NOT do, is there anything wrong with that? Is there something wrong with me because I choose NOT to drink, NOT to do drugs, and NOT to have sex until I am married? If people find something wrong with the way I live my life and what I choose to stay away from, that is THEIR problem, not mine. I am not going to do drugs, drink and have sex just so people won't have something to ostracize me for.

You said in your post to not talk about things I don't know anything about. Well, YOU did what you told me NOT to do when you assumed who I was and what my life was all about. I understand that some men and women enlist in the armed services to have their tuition paid for, or because they cant find a job, or even because they messed up their life and they think the army, marines, or navy will straighten them out. I have known at least one person from each category. But I also know people who have enlisted in a branch of the military because they want to serve our country and because they want to stop the war on terrorism. They want to be a part of the solution, they want to actively do something to make this world a safer place to live. As far as the job/college question, I have filled out numerous job applications and college admissions forms and do not recall seeing a question about the armed services on them. But even if there was such a question on those forms, that is not a draft. A draft is when they pull your birthday out of a barrel and you are sent somewhere in the military without really having any say in it. That does not happen anymore and won't ever happen again. There are way too many people in this country who would gladly volunteer to join the army, marines, navy, air force, etc., etc., without having to be drafted into it. And, no, I do not have a brother or a son in the military, but I do know of friends and extended family members who are serving and have served in the military, and yes it is scary to think that he/she may die, or that they will never see their families again. Why wouldn't I be effected by something like that? But whether or not I have anyone in Iraq fighting for America, I will always believe that fallen soldiers do not die in vain, but they died fighting for their country, and your brother is over there fighting for his country, whether he is doing it for his education or whatever, he is still fighting for America. And as far as me putting Bush on a pedestal next to the Pope, I don't. I am not Catholic, so I do not think the Pope is on any kind of pedestal or high horse.

As far as your next question, have I ever met a rape victim? The answer is yes, several. Friends and family members. I have not ever met a rape victim who got pregnant during her rape, so I cannot say that I know what that is like or that I have seen anyone go through that, but I can imagine it is very painful and difficult for the mother. I will say this, though. I believe that when God creates a life, no matter what the circumstances surrounding are, He also gives grace to endure the times to come. I think adoption is an option, but do I think that it is an easy choice to make? Of course I don't. But adoption is not an evil thing, it is an unselfish and loving thing to do if you cannot take care of your child. Recognizing that there are circumstances in your life that makes you unable to care for your child in the way that he/she deserves is a very wise and mature thing, and by refusing to give your child anything less than the best that he/she deserves out of life, placing him/her with a family that can care for them is sacraficial love in action. I believe in adoption, and when I am married, I want my husband and I to adopt children because I believe that every child deserves a chance to have a life. Adoption IS an option, Elizabeth, it may not be an easy one, but when women find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy due to rape or something else, do you think any of the three options they have available to them are easy to choose from? No they're not, but she has to choose one of them, and adoption can be an option where more than the mother and baby win. A family who maybe cannot have children of their own can be blessed with a beautiful child to love and to care for, and they can give that baby a much deserved life.

Elizabeth, I attacked no one in my post, and I did not intentionally hurt anyone's feelings. People disagree with me, that is true, just as I disagree with them. We are all humans made up of our experiences, taught from our parents, and we are all effected by nature/nurture, so we are not all going to agree on the same things all the time. The reason people vote for one person or the other in an election is because the person they are voting for is fighting issues or stands behind issues that are important to the individual voter. I am not voting for Kerry because abortion and same sex marriages are issues that I take seriously, and he does not believe what I believe. I am not for either, Kerry is, so I do not support him. Voting for him means that I support those issues and that I want them legal all over this country. I dont, so that is why I wont vote for Kerry. We all have opinions and we all have bases for those opinions, but I did not call anyone names or intentionally try to hurt anyone with my post. Why are you doing that in yours? I am not dumb, I just have different beliefs than you do apparently, but that does not make me any less than you.

I do not have children, as I stated before, but if I ever do, I can only pray that their father and I will be able to direct them and guide them in the right direction so that when they are faced with tough decisions such as having sex when they are teenagers, they will be able to make the right decision and not give in to the pressure or the temptations. And I know that I will raise my children to value their virginity and to value the reason why it is so special and important and should be given to the one they are married to. However anyone else chooses to raise their children is up to them, but as the Bible says, 'As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.' We all have choices to make in our lives, Elizabeth, and I am not telling anyone how to live their life, vote for their President, or believe. But why would anyone want to hide the love of God from others? That is like holding the definite cure for AIDS in your hands. You wouldnt hide that from those who need it would you? I would hope not. Well, I try to share the love of God with others, but I am not a perfect human being, and I can say things that people disagree with or say things that make people angry or uncomfortable, but the fact still remains: God is who He is and no words of mine or opinions of mine are ever going to change who God is, nor the fact that He loves each and every one of us unconditionally, nor will it change the fact that we have the choice to get to know God, to check Him out to see if He is who HE says He is (not me, or Bush or anyone else, but who GOD HIMSELF says that He is) or to reject Him and continue living lives that are in opposition to Him. I do not think people should be attacked for doing either.

As far as protecting sexually active teenagers from disease and unwanted pregnancies are concerned, I again will ask why is it so difficult for people to abstain from sex until they are married and ready to have children? They want everything that comes along with having sex except the consequences. What about people who get AIDS from having unprotected sex with someone they did not know had the virus? AIDS, like pregnancy, is a very real consequence that comes with having unprotected sex. People who get AIDS cannot go to a clinic and get rid of it, they have to live with it for the rest of their lives. There is no easy fix for AIDS, so why should there be with the other consequence of unprotected sex? A baby does not ask to be conceived, that is the choice (not talking rape cases) of the man and the woman to have sex knowing a baby could come out of it. A baby does not ask to be born, so why should that baby have the decision of whether or not it is allowed to have life made for them? I know that I wouldnt of wanted my parents making that decision for me, and I wasnt exactly a wanted/planned pregnancy. My parents had 4 teenagers in the house when I was born, and they were not planning on having any more children after my sister, who was 13 when I was born. And as hard as it was finding that out, I am still glad my parents gave me life and gave me a chance to have a life. I will always be glad my parents took responsibility for the choices they made and did not take the 'easy way out'.

In response to your answer to question number seven, I am sorry that people of African-American descent are treated unfairly just because of the color of their skin. I have said this before, but since you brought it up again, I wanted to reiterate what I said before and that is that I am sorry that those things still happen. I do not know what that is like, having never been black, but I do know what it is like to be ostrasized and outcasted because I am different than those who consider themselves to be of higher authority or position than I am. That is what racism is all about really, as well as any other predjudice that is in the world today: Control. It is a form of bullying, taken to a much higher caliber. People want to think and believe that they are better than someone else for whatever reason be it money, looks, status, or skin color. Religion can also play a roll in predjudices. But I am not better than you, nor are you better than me, and I never implied that I was better than anyone. I choose to believe in what I believe in, and those beliefs are based on what God has said and what He has promised. We all have the right to choose what we believe and what we dont believe, we are all free-willed human beings. I know that you are angry, but in reading your post, as I said before, I find that you are not angry with me, but you are angry at the injustice that has been done to you or to your family or loved ones, and because you feel this country does not care about you because you are black. I know that looking for someone to lash out at and to blame for your anger is the normal thing to want to do, but I am not the cause of why you are so angry, and I do hope that you see that.

As for your comment that I should be proud that gays are allowed to marry one another in my state, and how do i feel about that...well, I do not agree with it nor do I support it, and I am not proud of it.

And why must foreigners speak our language when they enter our country? Do you think that some of them where they come from are taught English in schol? These people come here so they can make money for their families. I work with a lot of people from Puerto Rico, Columbia, Brazil and Mexico who do not speak hardly a word of English, but they are the hardest working people in my company. They work for less money than an American doing the same job gets, but all they do is work and the money they get, they send most of it back to their families back home to give them a better life. We worry about Americans who cannot get jobs? There are a lot of Americans who do not WANT to work, a lot of Americans who take advantage of the help they are receiving and just do not go back to work, but sponge off the government. So giving jobs to foreigners who WANT to work is a crime?

Elizabeth, you and I, I am SURE could go back and forth about our differences in opinions and beliefs until pigs fly, but I do not want to argue back and forth with anyone. We all have choices to make and we will all be held accountable for the choices that we do make. I am not telling anyone what they should believe or can and cannot believe. I share my beliefs with people because I want people to know that there is a God who loves them more than their minds can fathom and that He is real and that He wants to have a personal relationship with each of us. I cannot hide that, Elizabeth, but I am not telling people they have to do this or they have to do that. I share my faith because I want people to know how much God loves them and that there is hope and truth in Him, but after that, it is up to them to take God at His Word and find out if He is who He says He is. That is a personal choice made by the individual person, but why condemn me for believing what God says? I do not condemn you or anyone else for NOT believing what God says is true.

from terri in florida

I absolutely agree with your views on Kerry. I live in Florida and find it frightening that there are so many here who can't see past the lies and B.S. we are constantly being handed - from Iraq to electronic voting (with the possibilities of hackers and no back-up list) and "felon" lists (missing Hispanics, but including legitimate African-American voters). I can only hope that this November's election won't be as big a fiasco as the last.

from bonnie in kentucky

I could not have said it better. Thank you....just wish the people who don't vote understood how important it is that they do vote! I am teaching a summer class in sociology and of the 11 students, none are registered to vote. The first question I ask every week is "who registered to vote"? So far, none have. It is so frustrating to deal with apathetic people.

Please stay on your soap box!

from elizabeth from minnesota

To Mysti in Mass

I want to thank you for making me feel like I was sitting in a religion class again, you know the classes where the professor is so narrow minded that he can only see his point of view... that's you...

First in foremost I am going to proudly admit that I am a KERRY AND EDWARDS supporter. And I am not saying you're wrong for supporting Bush, but I am going to say that you're wrong for trying to put Bush on the same pedastal as the Pope. This post is for you and only you Mysti from Mass, everyone else can read this for their enjoyment... Based on your post I know exactly what kind of person you are... I am going to assume that you grew up in a wealthy area of Mass in a loving 2 parent home with probably a brother and maybe a sister... spent a couple years in a private school then you went on to college (which your parentals paid for)... didn't ever have sex or drink or do drugs during high school or college (because that isn't the christian way)... met your husband in college got married.. had a couple of kids and now you're just a stay at home always going to church mom... Either that you're a Born again Christian, who drank, had sex, and liked bud alot back when you were younger... Either way don't talk about what you don't know... Did you actually read the words that you posted???

Mysti :"But these soliders did not die in vain. There is no draft in this country. Men and women are not sent anywhere that they did not volunteer to go on their own free will when they signed up to be in the armed services. These courageous men and women, (and I do not use the word 'courageous' flippantly because I know that I do not have the courage to do what these people do with their lives), have made a personal choice to enlist themselves for the service and greater good of their country. They did not die for something they did not want to fight for."

Please tell me that your kidding... I know about 50 people from my High school graduating class who enlisted into the armed forces right out of high school because they couldn't afford to go to college (its expensive you know)... As for no draft... yeah you're right technically there is no draft, but if you look at any form for a job or college it says "if male and have reached your 18th birthday have you applied for selective service"... Now that sounds like a draft to me... Because if you are 18 and male in this country you have to apply for selective service...I am going to assume you don't have a brother or a son in the military because if you did you wouldn't be saying this crap... I have a brother he's in the reserves and if Bush is still in office come December I don't know when I'll see him again or if I'll ever see him again... And that scares me more then anything... My brother didn't enlist in the reserves for the "service and greater good of their country" (my family is black do you really think that this country gives a crap about us??? only people who are fighting for rights with us are the gays) no my brother enlisted so he could get money for school... EDUCATION... that's why alot of people enlist in the military... (But Bush and Eduaction don't go hand in hand more on that later...)

Mysti: You think that John Kerry is for the future of our children? No! John Kerry wants to MURDER the children of the future by making abortion legal, as well as making it easier for women to obtain abortions. He will make contraceptives so heavily available that it will be easier for a teen to get birth control and condoms than it is for them to obtain a pack of gum. He will make the funds available for the erection of more abortion clinics.

Why shouldn't abortion be legal??? I mean who are you to judge what a person does??? have you ever met a rape victim??? better yet have you ever met someone who got pg by a rapist and kept the kid??? i have and for 3 years i've watched her struggle with that kid, mixed emotions of love and hatred... People like you believe if a person doesn't want their kid to give it up for adoption, give it to someone who wants it... you ever give up a kid for adoption??? you ever wonder day in and day out what your kid is growing up to be??? it's not easy so don't sit here and suggest that as an option... WAKE UP girl i mean you think because Kerry will make birth control easier to get that there will be more teen pgs.. you are seriously dumber then your writings make you out to be... teens are going to have sex itsa fact... you're kids are probably having sex... Unlike Bush, Kerry is actually providing a way for kids to actually protect themselves, thuse lowering the amount of teen pgs... tell me though is it hard to buy CONDOMS in MASS??? didn't know there was an age limit there...

Mysti: Do we all have homes to live in? Food on our plates? Loved ones? Cars? Jobs? Money? Do we not live in America and have freedoms that other countries only WISH they had, but when they come here to gain that freedom, we treat them like they are scums of the universe and try in every way we can to get rid of them?

Was this a test because if it is here are the answers: question 1: NO question 2: NO, question 3 depends on the person, question 4: No. take me for example I don't have a car so if you want to buy me one so that everyone here has cars I'd greatly appreciate it... maybe a jeep liberty sport perferably black... question 5: NO, question 6: NO, question 7: see this question doesn't have a clear answer... do blacks have the same rights as whites all over this country?? No... do gays and lesbians have the right to marry all over this country??? No (be proud isn't MASS one of the only states that allow gay marriages... how do you a CHRISTIAN feel about that??? I'd love to know)... AS for treating foreigners like the scum of the earth... I go to school in south TX (home of G W Bush) and there are always Mexicans trying to cross the border.. See I don't have a problem with foreigners coming here if they can actually speak the language... and why should we worry about giving foreigners jobs when there are plenty of Americans who don't have jobs????

As for your MR GEORGE W BUSH do you really think he cares about the future of America's youth??? I sure don't... he was governor of TX and the PUBLIC EDUCATION system down there sucks... there are kids in college down there that have 8th grade reading levels... because MR GEORGE W BUSH did a lot when he was governor.. yeah he implemented this testing system, the way it works (so i've been told) is that in order to go the next grade the kids have to test into the next grade... so instead of teaching them so that they will learn the material teachers teach them so that they will pass the test.. interesting... As for the war in Iraq can you say personal vendeda, a war started by the former president Bush and ended by Clinton only to be started by George W... Just for your information former president Bush gave Bin Ladin 3 billion dollars to get rid of Suddam.. that obviously back fired... please do respond MYSTI

from mary in texas

I am always willing to listen to, and fascinated to learn why people are voting for who they are voting for. I have been reading and studying and praying about this as I was not totally sure who to vote for in November. I had almost decided, but Mr. Shaughnessy, I have to say that this soapbox has given me the final information to allow me to make the right decision for me. I thank you for your courage in having this be a part of your website and for allowing all kinds of opinions to be voiced here.

SO. . . Thank you Mysti because I truly listened to what you had to say and I thank you for pointing out that you are voting for the man that cares more about some sperm and an egg that may have united in a woman's body 5 minutes ago, who cares more about trying to change the constitution to make sure that 2 people of the same sex who have been committed to one another in a loving, caring relationship for 20 years should not be allowed to have the same rights as the rest of us married people, and seemingly all in the name of God than of the living, breathing, walking, thinking, talking, suffering human beings that are being killed in Iraq, killed on the streets, killed in the name of God, that have no jobs, that have no health care, that have no homes, no food, no hope, that live in fear.

It seems to me that you are saying that the God and Jesus that John Kerry or Charles Shaughnessy for that matter, prays to, believe in, that leads their faith, is a different, and seemingly wrong one, than yours and George Bush because they disagree with what you believe.

You say that Kerry is not God, (and I bet if you ask him he would say, that's for sure!) and that he has no right to take away what God has given. Does that not also include the people that I mentioned before? The living, breathing, walking, thinking and talking human beings that already are here? Are they not important? Shouldn't the God loving President of the United States be more concerned about them? I think perhaps, YES, that we should ALL be more concerned about the people that are already here and what we can do for them/us than a zygote.

I Praise your right to have your opinion and to vote your conscience. I thank you for helping me make the decision who I am going to vote for now in November, without doubt, JOHN KERRY and JOHN EDWARDS who you Mysti have made me realize are the best men to serve me, God, America and the rest of the world.

from liane in germany

Sorry Charlie, but I just can't leave Mistys comment unanswered! I'm boiling! Misty stop biblebashing. it is enough that your President does it!! What does God have to do with war, corruption, poverty and a never before larger gap between rich and poor. Anyone who claims to do something in the name of God is a fundamentalist no matter what religion he or she belongs to.

As for abortion, do you REALLY think that most women think it fun to abort! You are too young to know what happened before abortion (with counselling)was allowed. Women died because they were "treated" with coathangers or some other dubious method and died and furthermore most women that wish to abort do it for ecomomic, rape or domestic violence reasons. Maybe you should occasionally watch news casts instead of soaps!! Then you would know that there was a big demo with Whoopi Golberg at its head some time ago on this issue. She had one of these coathangers in her hand!

Furthermore making the pill available more easily may prevent many pregnancies and therefore social problems .Also if girls have responsible parents who discuss these issues with them, they would know how to manage these issues., and finally I would rather prefer kids get condoms or the pill than guns,which in some parts of the US is considred "normal". Also Misty did you know that Bush as governor of Texas signed more death warrants than any other. Is that Christian? Unfortuneately at present America is seen very negatively in much of the world BECAUSE of your president ,.and also people like you which I know are not in the minority. I am not an an illusionist and know as well as anyone with a bit of brain that Kerry isn?t infallible and a far as his foreign policies go, (which interest me) won't differ much to what is going on now (Iraq) as US interests are still at stake in the Middle East ,but we all hope here in Europe and elsewhere that at least he will be more diplomatic!! Even Kerry will need help in the fight against terrorism and we hope that all the lying will cease, then, he will get it!

Incidentally a good Christian ACTS accordingly with kindness, open mindness and tollerance. Let us leave the preaching to the religious people!! Phew that feels better!!

from mysti in massachusetts

To Jannine in California, Charlie, and anyone else who cares to listen:

I am a Bush supporter first and foremost. Does that mean that I support him in every single thing he has done since he became our President? No, I do not. I do not support his decision to send troops into Iraq based on an assumption or falsely provided information that they were stock piling weapons of mass destruction. These weapons, as far as we know, have never been produced, but Bush claimed there were weapons over there. Too many innocent people have died in this war and a part of me wonders if they ever needed to be sent to Iraq in the first place. But these soliders did not die in vain. There is no draft in this country. Men and women are not sent anywhere that they did not volunteer to go on their own free will when they signed up to be in the armed services. These courageous men and women, (and I do not use the word 'courageous' flippantly because I know that I do not have the courage to do what these people do with their lives), have made a personal choice to enlist themselves for the service and greater good of their country. They did not die for something they did not want to fight for. Wars are senseless, for both sides involved. The people who were born in Iraq, grew up Iraqi, learned the Iraqi way of life just as Americans learned the American way of life. These people were raised under the power of Suddam Hussein and whether or not they liked it or they approved of him, they were born and raised in that country and they live the way they were taught to live. I think many of us Americans forget that. We are not the only victims. Innocent people in Iraq who did not choose to be a part of this war, or terrorism, they are suffering too. Children are being taken and having bombs strapped to their chest with a detonator in hand. Do you think those children deserve to be living like that? Do you think they are proud to be used as martyrs for a country who doesn't give a dang about them? President Bush is a human being who has made a lot of mistakes, but I do not think that his mistakes were puropsely trying to hurt Americans, nor do I think that he wanted so many people to die during this war. President Bush is a man of faith and I know that a lot of people have a major problem with that and I know that I have heard a lot of 'separation of church and state' being thrown into the mix. Sepration of Church and State does not mean to keep one's faith to themselves. When that law was first passed, when it was first written, it was so an entire state or country did not have the final say in what religion was practiced by it's residents. If I am not mistaken, I believe it started in England where Roman Catholicism was practiced by the country, and the Puritans were the ones who left England because they did not want to practice Catholicism they wanted to read and study the Bible. They wanted to follow Jesus Christ and His teachings. Separation of Church and State was set so that people could worship the God of the Bible and would not have to reform to the RC way of life if they didnt want to. But that law has since been distorted and the meaning has been misinterpreted and 'reinterpreted' to mean something it never meant in the first place. The entire Bill of Rights is like that now. Nothing that was meant in it's original meaning is being adhered to, everything has changed and the 'right to bear arms' now has the meaning that everyone can carry a gun with them and if deemed necessary use it to kill someone in 'self defense.' That was not the meaning of 'right to bear arms.' The word 'gay' is now being used to refer to a homosexual person, but the original meaning of 'gay' was 'happy.' And still is. People take words and laws and try to use them at their convenience and in a way that is best for them. That does not mean they are in the right, and with separation of church and state, they are not in the right at all.

President Bush is trying to uphold his faith in God throughout all of this and He is trying to reach out to people with the love that God has reached out with, not just to him, but to everyone on this planet. God loves us all and that includes the Iraqi people. Some Americans may think that they dont deserve to be loved, but yet, do any of us? Do any of us really deserve to be loved by such an awesome God? By the Creator of the Universe? Ponder on that for yourselves and you might be surprised what you come up with for an answer if you take a good, hard, honest look at yourselves. None of us are perfect. Not me, not any of you, not Charlie, not G.W. Bush, and not Mr. John Kerry. Everyone is so gung-ho on thinking that he will make a perfect President. He wont. You think that John Kerry is for the future of our children? No! John Kerry wants to MURDER the children of the future by making abortion legal, as well as making it easier for women to obtain abortions. He will make contraceptives so heavily available that it will be easier for a teen to get birth control and condoms than it is for them to obtain a pack of gum. He will make the funds available for the erection of more abortion clinics. What message does that send to young people? This: "I can have sex as much as I want and if I get pregnant, I can just have an abortion as easy as pie thanks to my President." Would you want your teenaged daughter having THAT thought in her hormonally charged head? I sure wouldnt. God created human life in the womb, the life does not begin once the baby is birthed. That life starts when God miraculously forms that child inside of his or her mother. Abortion takes away what God has created. It takes the power of life away from the one who created it and puts that power into the hands of whomever does not want that child. If you do not want children why is it that hard to remain celibate until you are married and WANT kids?! I will never understand that. Why is it so difficult for people to abstain from sex unti they are in a marital relationship? People blame God for all the why's the world is so messed up, when we should be blaming ourselves. God loves each and every one of us, He knows all of us, every thought, every word, every deed good and bad that we have and that we do. He knows how many hairs we have on top of our heads and if not everyone wants to believe that, God made us all with free will and the right to choose what we want to believe and what we dont. But just because people do not believe in it, does not mean it is not the truth. God created life and He created this temporary dwelling place known as earth for us to live and prosper on for the time we have. He wanted everything to be perfect, but it isnt, and that is not His fault. It is ours, starting back with Adam and Eve. God wanted us to live in paradise, and He makes provisions for us not because He wants us to be miserable and not allow us to have nay fun or joy, but it is because He knows exactly WHAT will bring us joy and what will bring us fun. He wants to provide that to us, not take it away, but we see things differently and we see that doing things our own way, looking out for number one (which would be me, myself, and I when you ask people who number one is), and doing things the easy way just to get instant gratification. We live in an "I want it yesterday" society. And people blame God for the evil. It isnt God, it is us. We are despicable, rotten, self centered, egotistical, self righteous. sinful human beings. And yet, the God who created all things loves us. Loves us right where we are. Pretty amazing, isnt it? And He not only loves us, He wants to have an individual, personal, one-on-one relationship with us. Us....despicable, sinful, rotten, evil us. Yep. So why are we all surprised that G.W. Bush wants to spread God's love to people who need it the most? I am not surprised at all. Bush wants Iraq to have what we have and we all have a problem with that it seems. Well, then people have a right to hate America, dont they? We are the richest country in the world and we are standing up and fighting that our wealth is being shared with those less fortunate than we are. We all have bumper stickers that say "God Bless America" and "I Am Proud To Be An American. Do we want those to be just money making tools for the people who print them up? Do we want them to be lip service for those of us who repeat these words, and yet do not practice them or believe them in our hearts? We want God to bless our country, well He is going to do that in HIS way, not ours. God does not work for us, people, He is not on retainer, He is not our client, and we are not His agent and managers. It is the other way around. We work for Him, and He does bless us. Do we all have homes to live in? Food on our plates? Loved ones? Cars? Jobs? Money? Do we not live in America and have freedoms that other countries only WISH they had, but when they come here to gain that freedom, we treat them like they are scums of the universe and try in every way we can to get rid of them? We are the richest country in the world, but not only are we rich with money we are rich with the evils of greed, selfishness, and hatred. That needs to stop. Are we proud to be Americans? And if so, what are we proud of? I am not proud to be part of a country that hates. That kills. That is selfish and money hungry. I am not proud to be part of a country who is so up to their eye balls in dollar signs they refuse to see the much needed help other countries need provided to them. I am proud to be part of a country who sees the needs of others and does something about it. I am proud to be part of a country who wants others to have what we have, so war CAN stop. If there is no hate, there is no need to fight. Commradary is what is needed to bring peace, and President Bush is trying to make that happen. I am not going to be proud of a country that legalizes a way to kill God's most precious creation: human beings, nor will I be proud to be part of a country that keeps on destroying God's marital provisions. Kerry wants to take the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman and destroy it. He wants to take the life that God has given and destroy it. I cannot be proud of a President that does that and I do not stand behind one that does. Kerry is not God, he has no right to take away what God has given.

If many of you havent already guessed, I am a Christian, and I am proud of that, and I stand behind President Bush because He has the desire to follow God and to serve Him.

from julie in illinois

Dear Charlie, I am a Conservative but I am voting for John Kerry, Why? Because everything that has gone on for the past year has changed my attitude tremendously. George Bush has really disappointed me, and I think if he gets re-elected, this country in the state that it is in, is going to get a lot worse. I think that John Kerry will pull us out of our slump. Although I disagree with some of John Kerry's issues, I am not going to let that change my mind about him. He will be a good leader. He has the drive to make our country great again. I was not sure about John Kerry at first, but the more I heard him speak the more I wanted to hear more from him. George Bush has destroyed the conservative name and frankly, I no longer want to be a part of them. I understand how some of you that have posted on this board who support George Bush feel, I used to feel the same way. I urge you to really think about your choice. Believe me I was a die hard Republican up until recently. I started to really feel let down by the party. I don't hate George Bush, I just no longer feel that he should be President. John Kerry is the better choice, he will do a an excellent job.

from allison from California

Thank you Mr. Shaughnessy!!!

I applaud your efforts and appreciate what you had to say. I wanted to respond to your latest speech sooner but waited until I saw a bit of the Democratic Convention to do so. First off let me start by saying that I try to stay away from politics, they have been known to cause me much frustration, but with all of my lawyer friends I find it difficult to stay away. I would also like to say that I am a registered voter and have been since I turned 18, I am proud to be an American. My younger brother (21) is big on politics and tends to lie to the right of them (unlike the rest of the family) and he always voiced his opinions yet he has yet to register. He had so much to say when it came to the re-election here in California and in support of the man we call our President. Now that he has graduated from officer training camp and has seen some of the inside, I think he may have seen the light and it may have finally been the thing that will push him to register. My thought is, if you don't vote (and you are of voting age) then you shouldn't have any say on the topic. Anyways, enough about that.

Anybody can talk about a man without really knowing him, it isn't until those who are closest to him will I listen. They know who he is when he is having a good week or a bad week, they know what they stand for and they know how strong that person is. I watched the Demo. Conv. tonight and what made me feel confident in my vote for Kerry was his wife. I feel that I have always a good sense when it comes to picking out people with character. Teresa Heinz Kerry has character. She lived through things that many of us will only read in text books, we will never have to live through things like that. Plus, she came to this country as a foreigner (much as yourself) and now she will possibly be the next first lady, which is a huge step. She has charisma and I love that she is a real person. She doesn't pretend to be a picture perfect person, she proves that she is just like the rest of us only she has been given the opportunity to voice her opinion loudly. This proves how strong John Kerry must be. He has a wife that is a leader in her own right, therefore he too must have leadership qualities. They believe in equality and the right to move forward. America may have been built through the church but it was intended for freedom. Just as time evolves so should we as human beings. We live in a country full of different religions, skin colors and political beliefs. It amazes me that the man who lives in the White House feels that we should all be the same as he and think the same way he does. It frightens me, the things that he has tried to ban in our country (gay marriages, abortion, stem cell research). While I may not agree with a particular issue that disagreement is what makes this country as beautiful as it is, I am allowed to voice my opinion and not be afraid of consequences. Who has the right to dictate how others should live their life? If you want to marry outside of the norm, or have an abortion for your own reasons why shouldn't you? If stem cell research could provide human kind with answers, why shouldn't we study it? I understand that he has his morals and his own beliefs and that is fine until he tries to force it onto me. John Kerry has lived through a lot. He saw things that I hope to never see. He fought in a war that he didn't believe was right. Yet, he is proud of what he is, and American. I think he will take care of us. I know that he promises us a lot, and he may not be able to keep all those promises but he wants to make it better. He cares about America and the people who make it what it is, great.

There is much more I can say on the topic but I choose to end on this note: I hope that everyone votes this November. Make this country yours and do your duty by voting and making a difference.

from jannie in california

To Rochelle in Illinois. You obviously have been looking in what you consider to be the RIGHT areas to find out what John Kerry stands for, but if you looked in the PROPER areas instead, you would know what he stands for and so do the rest of us who are tired of living in an America that is less important to our President than the oil in Iraq.

John Kerry most definitely states what he stands for and I stand with him and the rest of Americans that want to work together to form a better America. One that is not hated by the rest of the world. An America where we take care of our own first and foremost, but with a leader who also knows how to honor and care for the rest of humanity from a country that has the intelligence, wealth and spirit that this great land was founded on. He knows that we must work toward peace, democracy and honor human rights to create a world that is safe and prosperous, a world that our children deserve.

John Kerry believes in a better, stronger America - an America that is respected, not just feared.

He believes we face three great challenges above all others - to win the global war against terror; to stop the spread of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons; and to promote democracy, freedom, and opportunity around the world, starting by winning the peace in Iraq. His national security policy is to launch and lead a new era of alliances because the threat of terrorism demands alliances on a global scale - to utilize every available resource to get the terrorists before they can strike at us. John Kerry will lead a coalition of the able - because he believes that no force on earth is more able than the United States and its allies. And he should know. He was a part of that force. He plans to transform the world's most powerful military to better address the modern threats of terrorism and proliferation, while ensuring that we have enough properly trained and equipped troops to meet our enduring strategic and regional missions. And who better to know how to do that then someone that fought in a war and knows what the military needs.

But he also knows that the war on terror can't be won by the military alone so he plans to deploy all the forces in America's arsenal - our diplomacy, our intelligence system, our economic power, and the appeal of our values and ideas - to make America more secure and prevent a new generation of terrorists from emerging. He knows that to secure our full independence and freedom, we MUST free America from its dangerous dependence on Mideast oil.

He stands for jobs and a better economy. He wants to reward hardworking middle-class families with tax breaks, not more and bigger bills. He wants to expand the reach of opportunity, not the size of government. He wants to create an America where we work together to invest in the jobs of tomorrow, to build a stronger economy by creating good paying jobs, cutting taxes for businesses that create jobs here instead of overseas, by cutting the taxes to the middle class instead of the top 1% of the richest in America. In the first four years in office, he plans to cut the deficit in half, end corporate welfare as we know it, roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, and impose a real cap to keep spending in check.

He plans to address soaring Health Care premiums and cut Americans a break. His plan will lower family premiums by up to $1,000 a year, cut waste from the system, lower the cost of prescription drugs to provide real relief to seniors, and use targeted tax cuts to extend affordable, high-quality coverage to 95 percent of Americans, including every child. And because he believes that everyone's health is equally important, he will provide all Americans with access to the same coverage that members of Congress give themselves.

John Kerry will do whatever it takes to make America safe; coordinate our intelligence agencies, take action on all key fronts, track and stop terrorists, protect our borders and shores, strengthen vulnerable targets and those that protect them, and improve domestic readiness, and he will stand up for security whenever special interests stand in the way, and get the needed resources to the first responders who defend America every day, and he will protect our personal liberties as well as our personal security.

John Kerry knows that our children and their education are our future. He plans to ensure that all Americans can make the most of their God-given talents. He will offer schools the resources and the reforms they need to give every American child a great education, regardless of their income, race, or family background. He plans to establish a National Education Trust Fund to ensure that schools always get the funding they need, to ensure that No Child Left Behind works for schools, states, and teachers by rewarding those who meet higher standards and rewarding schools that turn around and improve. He plans to enact a new bargain that offers teachers more, including better training and better pay in troubled schools, and asks for more in return, including fast, fair ways to make sure that teachers who don't belong in the classroom don't stay there. His "School's Open 'Til 'Six" initiative will offer after-school opportunities to 3.5 million children, through programs that are open until 6 p.m. and offer safe transportation for children, knowing that children that have structure and safe havens after school will stay off of the streets and out of trouble.

He plans to offer a fully refundable College Opportunity Tax credit on up to $4,000 of tuition for every year of college and offer aid to states that keep tuitions down. And he will launch a new effort to ensure that all of our workers can get the technical skills and advanced training they need.

He believes that we all have the right to breathe unpolluted air, drink safe water, eat uncontaminated food, live in clean communities and enjoy our natural treasures. Over the last three years, we have seen these rights eroded. We have seen hard-won environmental gains rolled back, our air polluted and our water contaminated. But John Kerry throughout his career has fought to clean up toxic waste sites, to keep our air and water clean, and to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and other pristine wilderness areas. Recently, the League of Conservation Voters called Senator Kerry an "environmental champion." He will set a new standard of environmental excellence for America, by honoring our national treasures and paying tribute to our natural wonders, while renewing our nation's promise of clean air, clean water and a bountiful landscape for all. He recognizes that we owe it to our families, our communities, and our planet to defend our environmental values and protect our environmental rights.

And that is just some of what John Kerry stands for. John Kerry most definitely states what he stands for and I stand with him. I want a better America. A safer America. An America that is the first priority for MY God fearing president. I believe in John Kerry and John Edwards and I know that my vote DOES make a difference. And so does yours. Register to vote. Get an absentee ballot if you can't make it to the polls. I won't stand by and let other people's voices speak for me and my rights as a woman and an American and John Kerry and John Edwards believe what I believe in. Don't sit by and complain about the way things are and not do anything about it. Vote. I hope that people that want these same things will vote for John Kerry and John Edwards in November.

from marjorie in New York

Thanks, Charlie for expressing so eloquently why you support the Kerry/Edwards ticket. Living in New York and seeing, firsthand, the devastation caused by the attacks on 9/11 - I work across the street from Ground Zero - I know that we need the Kerry/Edwards team to make a 'fresh start'. We need every ally we can get to win this war. We are a wonderful and strong country - not the boss of the world! Our universe needs the world on one side and terrorism on the other if we are to defeat this insidious enemy. We need to help give the people who live in the Middle East alternatives to give their youth hope of a future that's better than Alqadea. We need to give our own citizens more economic stability in a country that cares about its own. For example, is it true that the Iraqi people have better healthcare - thanks to the U.S. - than so many of our own citizens? Thanks for the opportunity to express my opinion. We saw how every vote counted four years ago. We need to ensure that every vote counts this time.

from tara in north carolina

I wanted to let you know that this soapbox has definitely lite the fire under two of my friends' butts. Both are hot headed Republican so WATCH OUT!!!! lol...seriously though, I want you to get a sense of what kind of turmoil North Carolinians are facing right now. I witnessed this firsthand during the Kerry/Edward's campaign trail at NCSU and hear evidence of these practices everyday.

First off, southerners are noted for voting for fellow southerners (Edwards, Senator of NC, therefore, NC democrats vote for Kerry and Edwards.) Secondly, most active voters in the NC are republicans, go figure? Forget values and morals!!! I actually had a high school teacher (A.P.=college entry category) demand we become republicans, b/c "it's god's side, protestant and christian dieties alike". A college level course being taught by the ignorant, says a lot doesn't it?

This brings up another subject, Richard Gere said, "I fear any man who claims God is soley on his side." That was the only comment Gere made earlier this year in reference to President Bush when he was awarded for his career in film. One direct sentence that led to so much afterthought...

It is hard for a Christian, much less a protestant, to separate church and state when he mistakenly identifies his own ego as the voice of god. (Unfortunately, this isn't such an uncommon mistake among human beings. ) If God, The Creator exists, then he does preside over the universe(s). But Bush has forgotten one of if not the most valuable belief held dear to every Christian's heart. The ultimate act of sacraficial love was the gift of freedom.

We as voters must adhere to that freedom and choose our leaders during the election. Whether that choice is based on personal knowledge or ignorance is uncertain. But one thing I can guarantee is the validity of your position and making your voice heard. The electoral college might have the ultimate say but know that they are there to listen before being heard.

from liane in germany

Hello Charlie I just felt at this time I had to respond to your Soapbox. I am absolutely amazed how many YOUNG you have reached through your website. I must say Melissa the 12 yr old is a very wise young lady and I congratulate her for her comments, America needs lots more like her. I have no other comment to make at present as I think all has been said so far and I agree with you . Maybe you would make a good Kerry campaign manager (Rochelle) you do have the retoric and are well known in the TV community and if Arnie can get into politics why not you ! Aren't politics theater? However at present it's "bad theater" As an Australian, I am very much interested what happens in the US, because if Bush goes, there is hope for us Aussies, that the present government will loose it's "best friend" and things could turn for the better in such ways as threats of terrorism on Australians. This has certainly escalated in the past 6months. It now takes me 3-4 hours longer to travel between OZ and Europe because of security measures(for which I also have to pay for) .

Kerry seems to be a "global" person so we here in Germany hope that diplomacy will find its way back into politics again and not "texan bullwhipping" (metaphorically speaking of course as I'm sure bulls aren't whipped in texas!) which has been going on these past years. Bush really poured oil into the fire when he invaded Iraq. Recently there was an article in a large German Paper which interviewed US exchange students, and they were amazed at the truths that were hidden from them by the US media. Many have changed their attitudes since, and said that they will have difficulties with their kin once they are back in the US.

So young Americans go and vote as EVERY vote counts! Remember every vote not given ,the other party claims is theirs, and we all, even those living outside the US don't want a repetition of 2000!

from melissa in ohio

Dear Charlie,

Hi! As a big fan of yours from your "Nanny" days, I am glad that celebrities like you agree with children such as me. I am only 12 but I have VERY strong feelings about this election. This election is so important. Like you said, so many people do not think that it's important to vote. Well, they are wrong. I am writing to tell you that MTV has a campaign called Choose or Lose: 20 Million Loud. Maybe you have heard of it. I think that you should be a spokesperson. You would make a huge difference! Trust me! If those 20 million would have voted in 2000, maybe America would be different or maybe not. Because of those 20 million, we may never know. I would also like to point out that I have read in a magazine that IF KIDS COULD VOTE, JOHN KERRY WOULD BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES! I am one of those kids.

So far, I have been trying to get on Kerry's campaign trail. Please understand that since I am 12, I can't do a lot of things that adults can do. You know, like give blood, drive a car (DARN!), but especially VOTE! So I am telling you that now I'm doing everything I can to get my VOICE HEARD! We need more people in this world like you. I'm glad you wrote the Election Soapbox. It was one of the best yet!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Thanks. I'm glad you read my letter. Opinion: John Kerry and John Edwards are the people that we need to run this country! That's the truth. Thanks. Thanx for taking the time to read this. I truly hope that you respond personally. Also, on an unrelated note, The Nanny is the best show on TV! Thank you!

from rochelle in illinois


Maybe you should be Kerry's campaign manager. Too bad he can't state what he stands for!

from grace in louisiana
Dear Charlie,

I wish I was a year older. I'm just 17, so I can't vote, but I would hate to see our country have to endure Bush being in control for another four years. I am a total Kerry supporter, and I'm trying so hard to convince my mom that he is the better choice. She just doesn't want to listen to me, though. She doesn't know who to vote for, but I think she will probably end up voting for Kerry. I haven't even tried talking to my dad about it, because he is the most Southern hardcore republican I've ever known. There's no way he would vote for anyone but Bush. And if I tried to say anything against Bush to him, I would just be yelled out. So I just work on my mom to cancel out his vote. I encourage anyone who reads this to vote for Kerry, because although he may not always make the best decisions, or may change his stance on issues, he is the best choice.

from mary in nevada

Dear Charles --

It is impossible for me to believe that any rational person can vote Republican after the last year.

A Democrat all my life, and an anti-war activist since 1964, I remain dedicated to the party championing the lower middle class.

It has been puzzling to me since adolescence how any group could legislate morality. A free country is no longer free if the government denies you the right to marry or to determine what happens to your own body. Personally, I am opposed to abortion and would counsel anyone who asked my opinion to please seek other options. But I can not and will not force my opinions on others. Being anti-abortion does NOT mean being anti-choice. And if two consenting adults wish to publicly establish a relationship, why deny them that? These are matters of conscience, not of law.

I deeply resent the current administrations branding those of us who question their tactics Anti-American or against our troops. I, unlike the Bush administration, want our troops to have the best pay, benefits, supplies and attitudes we can provide for them. Our soldiers did not choose to be sent to Afghanistan or Iraq and they deserve our support 100%+.

As for "no child left behind" - - just talk to teachers. The educators I know are fed up with that empty slogan and request that Washington provide some backing.

While I might happily believe the hype about jobs being created in the last year or two, I consider my circumstance proof that it is bogus. I worked from 1963 to 2003 (except, curiously enough, while on layoff in 1972 [Nixon] 1977 [Ford] and 1982 [Reagan]) before losing my job at Boeing in Feb. 2003). I am currently being turned down for employment on a daily basis. Admittedly, I am old (60) and overweight, but I question the market which denies me minimum-wage, benefit free, part time employment while the reported number of "jobs created" is purportedly escalating.

I am SO delighted you have become a U.S. citizen and even more thrilled that you have chosen to speak out so eloquently on behalf of John Kerry and John Edwards. Thank you.

from andrea in florida

Hi Charlie, I agree with what you said in your Soapbox. I am very scared about all the news on TV about the Terrorism Alert going up and bin Ladan looking talking about stealing a jetliner to fly into another skyscraper somewhere in the U.S. I saw on our local news here in Florida how easy it was for the Terrorists on 9\11 to get through Orlando International Airport. No one checked out their IDs. They were free to go; no questions asked.

I wish President Bush would get his act together and pull our troops out of Iraq. Our men and women are dying needlessly over there.He should start concentrating on stopping terrorism in this country before more Americans die over something that could have been avoided if Bush was paying attention to what's going on here instead of worrying about Iraq.

I'm gonna jump on your bandwagon and ride it all the way to the elections in November. You made a lot of good points about John Kerry. He seems to really care about this country and how to keep its citizens safe. He also wants to make sure that whatever actions he needs to take will not only benefit the U.S., but our allies as well.

Thanks, Charlie, for an eye-opening report on the state of our government and its leaders and the changes that need to be made to make it better for us and the world.

from carmen in holland

Dear Charlie,

When I read your opinion about the election this year, I couldn't agree with you more! I also believe that this election is the most important one since 1945. I don't know what wil happen if George Bush wins this election. Alone the thought of him winning scares me very much. I was scared when he won 4 years ago. I' ve never seen a president who wanted this war in Iraq more than he did. And during this war he forgot the problems that were in his own country. I always believed that he wanted to finish the work that his father started and get rid of Saddam Hussein. Even when the rest of the world was against it and wanted to try it in a different way, he didn't listen.

So that's why I encourage everybody in the US to vote for Jonh Kerry! He's the perfect guy/president for your country, who really cares about what goes on.

I follow everything that goes on in the US very closely and I really hope that when the elections are over John Kerry will be the winner. I know I'll be watching closely (if I could I would vote myself, but that's not possible, unfortunately).

I hope that I didn't make to much mistakes in my english, but I'm used to writing in dutch. And thank you for making it possible for everybody in the world to share there opinion on this subject. Im looking forward to the next soapbox.

from dee in california

Hi, Charlie:

Thanks for encouraging people to vote and reminding people that one vote can in fact make the difference. I think a vote is like buying a share of stock and getting interest in return - I invested in George Bush (big mistake), who cleverly hid the fact he is a delusional egomaniac who wants to be king of the world. I'm dumping Bush just like I would dump some poorly performing stock. I want a man who wants to be MY president, president of the United States, not ruler of Iraq. We need leaders today to address American unemployment, homelessness, economics and the environment. I'm glad the elections this fall give me a chance to buy "new" stock. Kerry-Edwards looks like a winner to me. My best to you,

from lindsay in texas

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

Your recent response to the elections on July 22 was very informative and important. In this day in age so many young people feel that their vote doesn't count. I myself have been debating for some months on whether to vote this upcoming November. I became eligible this year when I turned 18 and I am proud to say I am registered to vote. However, with so many lies coming from the democrats and the republicans it is hard to say who is telling the truth.

You mentioned that John Kerry was a veteran of the Vietnam War. While this may be true, do you also know the fact he got a purple heart when he was wounded? I was told by a very dear friend of mine that in one of the protests he did against the Vietnam War after he was discharged, he was asked to throw his purple heart to show it didn't mean anything. Now I don't know if this is true or not but ! from what I was ! told he threw someone else's purple heart in the fire and kept on to his. Does this show hyprocrisy? I realize John Kerry is not perfect, but sometimes I wonder if he will be the right person for the job. Orginally early on in the elections I wanted John Edwards to win as president. To this day, I still want Edwards to win, but I still feel unsure whether to vote for Kerry or not. I admire Kerry's stance on education. As an incoming freshman in college I am hoping that the education system in this country will help me. Kerry is genuinely concerned for the welfare of his country and for this I am grateful but do the promises he makes going to hold up if he wins? I don't want to have the same mistake happen with Kerry as the Bush adminstration is making right now.

I won't pretend to deny I dislike Bush. In fact I think he's leading our country in the wrong direction and his priorities are screwed up. I was 14 when Bush became president and as a former governor from th! e state of texas where I'm from I'm ashamed to admit that I once suppo rted him. At first I thought it was exciting we had a governor from my state running but as I got into politics I've realized all the mistakes he's made. I can't believe how stupid he's become if he wants to believe that Iraq was a part of 9/11. He tried to say that there were "weapons of mass destruction" but of course once again it was all a lie. Iraq is not Afghanistan nor is Al Queda linked to Saddam. If there is, I want direct evidence.

As for Kerry, in some ways I support him but sometimes I don't and if I'm not sure what to do, how is my vote going to make a difference? I want to vote because I have waited so long to prove my voice but with everything so uncertain now, I don't see how this is possible. Anyway I just wanted to say thank you so much Mr. Shaughnessy for voicing your opinion on this important subject and your former costar, Benjamin Salisbury seems to feel the same way you do on t! his matter. In fact I am a member on his website and there are many users who feel strongly for and against Bush. I thank you for giving me the chance to voice my opinion and I look foward to hearing from you soon on your next soapbox debate.

from tina in germany

Dear Mr. Shaughnessy,

I know that you're a democrat by nature. When I?ve read your opinions, I thought that I was on a election campaign. . . It was quite funny. Sometimes it was a little bit to emotional, for me as a German woman. But for you Americans it?s normal, I think. Of course, as I see it, there?s no alternative to Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards. You?re right, when you say that this election is the most most important since more than 50 years. Europe and especially Germany follow the actual process in the U.S. very interested and also a bit scared. When George W. Bush regains the White House, oy. . .Certainly, no one make forecasts concerning economics, freedom and international relations, but I have no good feelings when he remains President.

I agree with you, that America could reach much more when they don?t isolate, but start big coalitions with many ohther countries. For me, and that is my personal opinion, Mr. Bush wanted to continue his fathers fight against Sadam Hussein and he wanted to outdo him by bringing it to an end.

Two weeks ago Bill Clinton was in Germany and I saw him on a TV show. He answered all the questions very open and made a big contribution to see America in a better light again. At the same time I started to read Hilary Rodham Clintons book "Living history". She discribes very detailed their convitions. Mr. Kerry could very lucky to know supporters like the Clintons and you on his side.

Every monday there?s a small piece of the New York Times in our newspaper. And there?re of course articels about the two canidates, Mr. Kerry in detail and the election. When I read these articles, I?m a little bit scared. Either the New York Times is a fan of Mr. Bush or Mr. Kerry really has serious problems to win this election, even in the south. They often point out his disadvantages (lack of charisma and resolution). They see his only chance in John Edwards, even if he is a "second choice" running mate. I think I have to few informations about Kerry/Edwards, but any person (of the democratic party) is better than Mr. Bush. It would be very hard for the freedom in the world if he remains US-President.

I hope I can join these exciting weeks in october/november during an internship in the USA. It certainly would be an important experience. And if I don?t get this internship, I?ll follow the election very interested in Germany.

I hope that there were not to many mistakes in my text and it wasn?t to difficult to read it. I wish all the best to you and your family

from wende in florida

Sorry Charlie, but I won't vote for John Kerry and John Edwards. First I feel Bush (Jr.) owes it to this country to get this war over, so I feel that he needs to stay in to do that. And I hope no one takes offense to this, but some one in office who shows a strong faith in God as George W. Bush has down. I would love to send millions of people a copy of a Sunday topic I heard in my New York State church on July 4th, this maybe would turn the thoughts of people around to what I believe, and the things I have seen, and what will be ahead for us here on in from now. Second, it is that I don't like bushing that goes along in politics. We all just lost Pres. Ronald Reagan, people except him on both sides of the politic realm. I may feel like mostly independent politically, but I would rather learn the Republican way then the Democate way. But I have friends that love me and I love them who are on both sides of the political fenses. And I think we all should think about each other and who we are to each other.

from jennifer in florida
Hello, my name is Jennifer, I am from Florida. I was very impressed with your soapbox and agree with you SO much. I have nothing nice to say about our President. I don't think he has done his job right at all. His stupid smug look when he is talking about all the lives we have lost due to him. America has made a big mistake by letting him into office ( no, i did not vote for the freak) and to make matters , Florida has to deal with the other Bush BOOB, JEB.I will be at the voting polls and yes of course my vote is for the next President of the United States. PRESIDENT KERRY!!!!!

I hope everyone will vote.PLEASE. I am so tired of hearing that they don't want to register because they will get called for Jury Duty. So what, Just do it..

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