We are currently a country divided by a deep political rift. The polls and pundits, in anticipation of the Nov. 2 election, have described a nation largely split between those who ardently favor four more years of George W. Bush and those who believe John Kerry is the type of leader needed to change the course of this country. As a nation divided, these next four years will not be easy, no matter the president. Notwithstanding the result of this election, half the citizenry will be left uneasy with the outcome.

We, too, are torn in making a decision on who is best prepared to hold this nation’s executive office. Our views on the direction the country needs to take differ much like that of the rest of the nation. As a board, however, we have always seen our responsibility as that of representing the best interests of students at the University of Wisconsin. As we face what is quite possibly the most important presidential election of a generation, the leader of this nation will have a tremendous impact on our lives as students, our entrance into the working world and as citizens of this great country. In considering these reasons, we believe John Kerry is the most qualified candidate.

While both Bush and Kerry have placed significant emphasis on education, both viewing it as a long-term solution to job loss in this country, the measures described by Kerry better benefit America’s universities. Bush’s plans, with all their practicality, have emphasized the importance of increasing the capabilities and enrollment in our nation’s technical schools. Here at UW, Bush’s plans simply do not hold the significance of Kerry’s proposals.

Highlighted in his plan for higher education is Kerry’s proposal for child-tax credits to match average instate university tuition to ease the large financial burden of paying for college. This measure directly confronts the critical economic state of American higher education and resonates strongly with taxpayers, enabling middle-class families to send their children to college through incentives. Moreover, the Massachusetts Senator has proposed $50 billion in block grants to states specifically for the funding of higher education. And, in a very progressive proposal, Kerry seeks to offer full instate scholarships for low-income students willing to commit two years of their post-graduate life serving their nation or community in any number of charitable organizations or the military. We believe all these measures to be more practical and applicable at this university when compared with Bush’s vague proposals.

In terms of the economy, Kerry made mention in the second debate that reinvigorating this nation’s colleges and universities is essential to creating jobs and ideas for the future. Kerry promises to hold the line on middle-class taxes in a move to motivate small businesses and stabilize this segment of society. The senator is also proposing a tax cut for businesses that create jobs in America instead of moving them overseas. Such actions help to ensure college graduates have access to jobs. When compared with Bush’s tax breaks for the wealthy, Kerry’s plans are more in-tune with the economic status of most students’ families and the standing of recent college graduates.

Finally, in a time when the United States has mobilized troops for combat all over the globe, Kerry’s first-hand experience as a Naval officer in Vietnam is a quality that cannot be underestimated. Kerry knows the cost of war, and with this engrained in his mind, he grasps the absolute nature of combat. Kerry said it best during his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention last July: “As president, I will wage this war with the lessons I learned in war. Before you go to battle, you have to be able to look a parent in the eye and truthfully say, ‘I tried everything possible to avoid sending your son or daughter into harm’s way. But we had no choice. We had to protect the American people, fundamental American values from a threat that was real and imminent.’ This is the only justification for going to war.”

With 20 years of experience on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry has the necessary diplomatic tools to create coalitions and treaties to help alleviate the over-exhaustion of our nation’s military and to help ensure the safe return of all our troops. While this is certainly the ultimate goal for all candidates, through much deliberation, we believe Kerry’s experience is more conducive to resolving the conflicts this nation has inherited during the Bush administration.

We believe Kerry has set himself apart from his competitors in the pillars most important to students. With an emphasis on alleviating the financial burdens of higher education and reinvigorating American universities to promote the economy, paired with tools to cope with this country’s military affairs, Kerry makes a strong case that he is the right man for the job.