John Kerry: ‘You have to fight’

In rousing speech at the Tabernacle, the former secretary of state calls for action.

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John Kerry told a mostly supportive audience that change will come from getting citizens — especially young citizens — involved in the political process.

Kerry, the former secretary of state and one-time nominee for president, made his comments to a packed Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs Saturday night after a screening of “The Final Year,” a documentary of the final year of the Obama presidency.

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival held a special screening of the film as part of its summer film series.

“The Final Year” gives an inside view of former president Barack Obama’s last year in office. The crux of the film is foreign policy, focusing on the ups and downs of the Obama administration’s globalism.

The film focuses primarily on former President Barack Obama; Ben Rhodes, Obama’s former national security advisor and speechwriter; Samantha Powers, a former special assistant to Obama and the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Kerry.

After the film screening, Thomas Bena, founder and president of the film festival, sat with Kerry on stage to answer questions that had been submitted by Islanders in advance of the screening.

Kerry’s talk ranged from foreign policy to domestic issues, from the Iran deal and the Paris agreement, to infrastructure projects and midterm elections. Kerry kept an optimistic and powerful tone on each topic. “We have to reclaim our own democracy in the United States of America. It’s a fight, you have to fight for it.”

The first question posed asked Kerry to comment on the current political climate and compare it to the troubled times of the ‘60s and ‘70s.

“This is far more serious right now in many different ways,” Kerry said. “It’s not as daunting as it appears, I believe. I’m actually an optimist. I’m an optimist about our choices, I’m an optimist about where we’re going, I’m an optimist about the possibilities of what we can do, and need to do, and what we will do to reclaim a genuine vision for the direction of our country.”

Kerry also touched on aspects of the film and how a globalist approach to foreign policy is the right approach. “We dealt with more crisis, with greater impact, in more places simultaneously than any other American administration in history,” he said, citing healthcare programs in Africa preventing children being born with AIDs and the stop of the spread of Ebola among other achievements.

Bena raised the question of division in the country — how should disaffected people talk to those who voted for President Donald Trump. Kerry called for unification.

“Don’t label folks. Don’t push them away into a corner. They have a lot of legitimate gripes,” he said. “Government’s working in a half-assed way and most Americans understand that, but they’re coming at it in different directions. I believe we have to listen to each other, we have to put real ideas about how you fix these kinds of problems on the table.”

Touching on the future of the Democratic party, Kerry said the primaries are wide open for the 2020 presidential election. For now, the Democrats are focused on the midterm elections in November, hoping to win a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

At the end of the talk, Kerry walked offstage to shake hands and pose for pictures with an audience that had been moved by his speech. Speaking to the small crowd that raced to get a face-to-face encounter with him, Kerry spoke on the importance of citizen activism. Talking about the civil rights movement and the protests of the Vietnam War, Kerry told a group of young adults, “you people were the ones making the difference. You had to fight for it and you’ll find more power available to you sooner than you know.”

“We’re not building for the future, my friends. I think Americans want it. I think Americans still aspire to a genuine definition of greatness. By the way, I don’t think you have to make America great again. America is great — we have to make it greater. And there’s a better way to do that than running around denigrating individual citizens and criticising people the way we currently are. I think it’s time to fight. I don’t know any other way to do this. You’re not going to win it sitting at home, you’re not going to change America by omitting it. You’re not going to whine it into its future. You’re going to have to get off your rear-ends and go out and work unlike any battle before and win back at the ballot box by making the issues that matter voting issues.”

21 COMMENTS

  1. We must fight. The sellout media and the sellout politicians want you to give up. The bully wants you to give up. The bully like Trump and his supporters think they can call you names and you’ll shut up. Their proud pussy grabber said he could shoot someone in the streets and his supporters wouldn’t care. The tragedy of his statement is it’s true. It is well documented that this disgusting pig of a man openly bragged about abusing his power to grab women by the privates. Who mocked a disabled reporter on live TV. Who has had multiple affairs while married. Who cheated workers and is under investigation for exploiting his foundation for personal gain. To top it all off, investigations into people associated with his campaign have turned up a dozen indictments, many of which turned into guilty pleas, and at least two convictions with jail time.

    Of course the Republican Party who once cared justice can’t be found. They’ve all sold out and support Putin more then they do the investigations into his meddling into our nation. The folly of separating children from their parents at the border doesn’t even make them blink an eye. It’s kind of sick that the people who claim to be the moral Christians of our nation have fallen into the moral vacuum of Trump and his modern Republican Party. Cheating, lying and tax breaks for rich people is all the GOP cares about. That they get so many people to vote for them with their tragedian rhetoric shows that there are way too many fools in this nation. Where folly is a great danger to good then malice, it time for us all to stand up and stomp out this great tragedy unfolding before our eyes. We must stand defiant in the face of the bully.

    • for someone who detests the President of the United States Donald Trump, you seem to love to continue and perpetuate the vulgar language. Yes, he used it but if someone at your family table uses vulgar language, and you know it’s wrong, would you continue to use that same vulgar language? No, you’d learn from it, discontinue the vulgarity and try to rise above it with knowledge. You , Vanadium, continue to perpetuate vulgarity and hatred. This is beyond any point you try to make in your diatribe.

      • I guess the context isn’t beyond you, but what seems to be over your head is the point. That a man used this language and no one seemed to care, they still pulled the lever for him in droves. The putrid vulgarity of Donald Trump is the knowledge that the Republicans blinded themselves of willingly and all just to earn some semblance of amelioration for the unfounded anger and hatred they felt for Hillary Clinton.

          • “globalist” I don’t think that means what you think it means. You’ve got nothing on Hillary, just some tragedian sloganeering. You’ve lowered your moral and ethical standards for reasons you don’t even understand.

      • The vulgar language is taken from Trump describing how he treats women. That is what your are defending, YOU are the one perpetuating vulgarity and hatred by not fighting it at the source.

        BTW, you justified Vanadium’s point.

    • Vanadium. People of good character have turned a blind eye to Trumps misgivings because of his policies. His policies are boosting the economy big time. He is not a man of good character but may I suggest to you that if the shoe were on the other foot and the Dems had a man say like Ted Kennedy, they would also turn a blind eye and vote for him. You have to stop being hysterical about all this and just watch your 401K. Back in Bill Clintons day you all said he could do whatever he wanted because it didnt interfere with his ability to be a good President. Remember that? 63 mm hard working Americans not on welfare and not on food stamps and not on fraudulent disability payments voted for Trump because the were tired of the elites telling them how to live. As for ”tragedian rhetoric” whatever that is, the strength of the economy is palpable for most folks and likely you.

      • “Just watch” This is problem our country faces today is a years in the making synergy of idiocy culminating in the election of Donald Trump. Because of his obvious shortcomings, Republicans have had to cling to the delusion that he’s done something great for our nation. After all he did say he would right? The perfect catchphrase for excusing the vulgar rhetoric, misogyny, divisiveness and incivility. You’re going to, just like a portion of the other 63 million, delude your self into thinking any policy he’s put in place had a positive effect on the economy. I invite you to have a policy discussion with me. Name 5 things you think he’s done. Lets talk about the costs and merits of welfare, food stamps, bailouts for farmers and military spending. Lets hear you pitch for Pres 45!

      • Is it worth the effort to suggest you consider what will happen to America’s farms when they can’t harvest for lack of workers (already happening) and can’t sell overseas because of trade war tariffs?

      • DJT is no Ted Kennedy, but always interesting to hear exactly how the privileged white, male, religious right justify their support for a president who they admit has no character. We owe a debt of gratitude to Andrew for his clear articulation. “Misgivings” about the leader of our country who daily exposes a complete lack of moral character are to be entirely ignored by the religious right. This is what they want their children to grow up learning. A person with the moral backbone of a pig can be President if it means more money for the white, male, privileged, religious right. The religious right can teach their children and grandchildren that any disgusting slob can be President of the United States as long as he or she has policies that increase the financial holdings of the white and well-off– and those who have a 401K. Most American workers do not have a 401K, but well-off, privileged, white, Christian males don’t know or don’t care. Character and decency and the majority of Americans are of no importance if you’ve got enough money for yourself. No wonder so many on the religious right can turn a blind eye to the exteme selfish greed of an immoral Trump. So tired of the fake Christians defending the indefensible.

  2. What I find so ironic is that Trump’s base feels he can do no wrong and is in it to pave the way to prosperity and greatness for them and theirs. Nonsense! His tariffs on international trade once they start having a bigger effect will tank the stock market. The “Wall” will never be built and is a colossal waste of time to discuss, debate or even think about. His appointees to cabinet positions only demonstrate that he was never in any way, shape or form going to “drain the swamp.” When you look at these hooligans in power, I’d find more solace knowing the Three Stooges were running the show. Trump won because of,well primarily Putin, but because of his abhorrent behavior and nonsensical banter about immigrants, “crooked Hilary” and the like. He tapped into people’s base feelings about racism, xenophobia, elitism, etc. and all those people who voted for him drank his cool-aide! He’s setting us back financially, socially, environmentally, culturally and ethically decades. Lets hope some real common-sense people get elected in November and come 2020, someone with half a brain and good conscience occupies the white house.