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In Presidential Politics, What Is True Strength?

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I was talking informally with a small group of people when the subject of this year's presidential race came up (as it usually does in conversations these days).

They expressed their disappointment and disgust with how the Clinton and Obama campaigns have been attacking each other. And they said that McCain's advantage is that he appears strong -- even more so these days with the Dems acting like children.

They may have a point. However, McCain's strength is an illusion.

I respect McCain's past military service to his country, especially for the time he served as a POW in Vietnam. That took strength. But his political career is another matter, especially in recent years.

McCain, once considered a "maverick" for ignoring the will of the Republican party to legislate for what is right, has since sold his soul to the base. He wants a 100-year war with Iraq. And McCain, a torture survivor himself, voted against a bill that would forbid the CIA and other U.S. agents from engaging in torture. That's not a sign of strength. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

What is true strength?

It takes strength to stand up against the use of torture.

It takes strength to stand up for an end to our involvement in Iraq.

It takes strength to stand up for the rights of the middle class, the working class, and the poor in a government that's been so corrupted by an unhealthy relationship with big business and the monied special interests.

And it takes a lot more strength to run for president as a woman or an African-American than it does as a white man.
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Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views (more...)
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