Former Michigan governor (1969-1983) William G. Milliken endorses Kerry:
As a lifelong Republican, I have had mounting concern watching this year’s presidential campaign.
I have always been proud to be a Republican. My Republican Party is a broad-based party, that seeks to bring a wide spectrum of people under its umbrella and that seeks to protect and provide opportunity for the most vulnerable among us.
Sadly, that is not the Republican Party that I see at the national level today.
My Republican Party has always been a party that stood for fiscal responsibility. Today, under George W. Bush, we have the largest deficit in the history of our country – a deficit that jeopardizes economic growth that is so desperately needed in a nation that has lost 2.6 million jobs since he took office.
To make matters even worse, this president inherited a surplus, but squandered it with huge tax cuts structured primarily to benefit the wealthy and powerful.
My Republican Party is the party of Michigan Sen. Arthur H. Vandenberg who helped forge a bipartisan foreign policy that served this nation well and produced strong alliances across the globe. This president has, in a highly partisan, unilateral way rushed us into a tragic and unnecessary war that has cost the lives of more than 1,000 of our young men and women. In this arrogant rush to war, he has alienated this nation from much of the world.
What’s worse, the basic premises upon which we were taken to war proved to be false. Now, we find ourselves in the midst of an occupation that was largely unplanned and has become a disaster from which we cannot easily extricate ourselves.
My Republican Party is the party of Theodore Roosevelt, who fought to preserve our natural resources and environment. This president has pursued policies that will cause irreparable damage to our environmental laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink and the public lands we share with future generations.
My Republican Party is the party of Lincoln, who freed an enslaved people. This president fought in the courts to strike down policies designed to provide opportunity and access to our own University of Michigan for minority students.
My Republican Party is the party of Eisenhower, who warned us to beware of the dangers of a military-industrial complex. This president has pursued policies skewed to favor large corporations in the defense and oil industry and has gone so far as to let those industries help write government policies.
My Republican Party is a party that respects and works with the men and women of the law enforcement community who put their lives on the line for us every day. This president ignored the pleas of law enforcement agencies across America and failed to lift a finger to renew the assault weapons ban that they strongly supported as an essential safeguard for public safety.
My Republican Party is a party that values the pursuit of knowledge. But this president stands in the way of meaningful embryonic stem-cell research that holds so much promise for those who suffer from diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries and other conditions.
My Republican Party is the party of Gerald R. Ford, Michigan’s only president, who reached across partisan lines to become a unifying force during a time of great turmoil in our nation’s history. This president has pursued policies pandering to the extreme right wing across a wide variety of issues and has exacerbated the polarization and the strident, uncivil tone of much of what passes for political discourse in this country today.
Women’s rights, civil liberties, the separation of church and state, the funding of family planning efforts world-wide – all have suffered grievously under this president and his administration.
The truth is that President George W. Bush does not speak for me or for many other moderate Republicans on a very broad cross section of issues.
Sen. John Kerry, on the other hand, has put forth a coherent, responsible platform of progressive initiatives that I believe would serve this country well. He wants to balance the budget, step up environmental protection efforts, rebuild our international relationships, support stem-cell research, protect choice and pursue a number of other progressive initiatives that moderates from both parties can support.
As a result, despite my long record of active involvement in the Republican Party, and my intention still to stay in the Republican Party, when I cast my ballot November 2, I will be voting for John Kerry for President.
Governor Milliken was thrust into office when Governor George Romney (one-time presidential candidate and father of the current governor of Massachusetts) joined the Nixon Administration in 1969. He led the state through some very tough years of economic turmoil and racial tension, and he did it with a spirit of bipartisanship that he notes is sadly lacking today. Welcome aboard, Bill.