Kerry in 1971: 'Our Democracy is a Farce'

By Marc Morano Senior Staff Writer
April 22, 2004

( - John Kerry, the presumed Democratic nominee for president, was quoted by a student newspaper at West Virginia's Bethany College in 1971 as saying, "Our democracy is a farce; it is not the best in the world."

Kerry made the remarks on Nov. 2, 1971, according to the Bethany College student newspaper, The Tower . has obtained a copy of the article written by John Majors, which details Kerry's visit to the college and appeared in the Nov. 11, 1971 issue of the newspaper. At the time, Kerry was still a leader of the anti-war group, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW).

"There is a disbelief in the American Dream," Kerry was quoted as saying. "People are questioning if it is really a dream or if the dream still exists," Kerry reportedly told the students gathered in the school's Weimer Lecture Hall.

Two weeks after his appearance at Bethany College, Kerry resigned as a leader of the VVAW during the group's meeting in Kansas City. That's the same meeting, in which VVAW members allegedly discussed the possibility of assassinating U.S. senators still committed to the American war effort in Vietnam.

During his speech to Bethany College students, Kerry was quoted as saying that communism did not pose any kind of threat to the United States.

"The soldier went to Vietnam to defend the country from aggressive communism in the tradition of World War II," Kerry reportedly said. "But the soldier learned he was not fighting communism. Communism was not a threat to our country and the war was not moral," he added.

The college newspaper also reported that Kerry was critical of the federal government's power.

"The government can kick people around," Kerry told students. "We have allowed public officials to exercise too much power."

Kerry reportedly backed up his belief that the U.S. "democracy is a farce" by citing statistics showing that only 25 percent of those eligible to vote in the 18-21 age bracket had in fact voted. But Kerry cautioned that, "Voting is not the only way change will come.

"There will be a confrontation, but it must be a non-violent effort," Kerry was quoted as saying. "If we are interested in overall change, we must demobilize society in the direction it is headed. We can't sit around and support this kind of society," he added.

A large part of Kerry's speech was devoted to what he believed were the negative effects of the Vietnam War on American veterans.

"[Some veterans] came back with a heroin habit that cost $12 a day in Vietnam. That same habit costs $175 to $250 a day in the U.S.," Kerry reportedly said. "[S]till other veterans came back with psychological problems, such as those who sleep with knives under their pillows, or those whose wives have to wake them up with code words so they won't get stabbed."

Kerry ended his speech warning about the challenges ahead.

"The greatest of all dangers is the future. Americans know the difference between right and wrong. We must make a positive commitment. Something can be done," the Bethany College newspaper quoted Kerry as saying.

Larry Sabato, a political science professor from the University of Virginia, predicted that Kerry will try to write off his 1971 comments as "young and foolish," but that it won't be an easy task.

"Just because he was young and foolish does not mean he will not have to explain these things," Sabato told . "It will cause him a problem and these quotes will be widely circulated," he added.

B. G. Burkett, a military researcher and author of the book, Stolen Valor , said Kerry's speech to Bethany College students is further proof of the presidential candidate's "hypocrisy." "During and after the Vietnam War, [Kerry] denigrated honorable men who served this nation well in Vietnam by calling them drug addicts, rapists, murderers, war criminals," Burkett told .

"He is now trying to act like he is proud of his service when at the time he renounced the U.S. government, he renounced the U.S. military and he renounced and threw away the very medals he now claims he is proud of," Burkett said.

Repeated phone calls to Kerry's campaign for reaction to his 1971 speech to Bethany College students were not returned.

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