Monday, June 17, 2019
John Kerry-‘We Can’t Make America Great Without Making America Fair Again’
Jenny Emery Davidson said she was grateful that former Secretary of State John Kerry gave of his time to come to the library and talk, not once but twice.
Friday, January 4, 2019


John Kerry returned to Ketchum’s Community Library for an encore presentation this week.

And this time the former Secretary of State had help from an unabashed Republican--former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger—in addressing the issue of climate change.

Schwarzenegger took his place among a crowd that also included former Ambassador Alan Blinken. Then  he shared his two cents worth during the question-and-answer period after listening to Kerry push nuclear power to help address man’s role in climate change.

Arnold Schwarzenegger praised John Kerry, calling the two of them “public servants, rather than party servants.”

Schwarzenegger, who once mocked President Trump’s efforts to save the coal industry,  recounted how a video showing a child who could barely breathe flipped public opinion overnight to help California  beat the coal industry.

It does no good to tell people that sea levels are going to rise in the next 20 years, he said.

 “But, if you tell them seven million people die every year of pollution, they sit up and take notice,” he said. “Pollution is today.”

Kerry agreed to return to the library after some 200 people had to be turned away for a presentation championing his new book Every Day Is Extra” a few days before Christmas. So many people turned out for the second lecture that some were funneled to another library room to watch a livestream presentation and others had to return home to watch it.

John Kerry told Gerry Morrison how he had recently switched from snowboarding to skiing, which he honed as an 11-year-old attending boarding school in Switzerland.

Kerry said his own house had been full of visiting relatives, including his granddaughter, over the Christmas holidays.

“Between whining and crying and binge TV watching, I feel like Gen. John Kelly in the White House,” he quipped, referring to the Chief of Staff who stepped down Jan. 2.

Kerry gave a shout out to Sun Valley and Galena Lodge, which his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry helped save from the wrecking ball.

“I’m impressed by the extraordinary range of beauty and activity here. It’s a very special place,” said Kerry, who visited 91 countries as Secretary of State.

Kerry echoed some of what he had said in his first talk. But he took his second talk, which lasted nearly two hours, in other directions, as well.

He shared how his father had been one of the first to sign up for the American Air Corps because he had lived in Europe and had a sense of what was coming with World War II.

 His mother, Kerry said, was a nurse who worked in train stations taking care of those wounded or made refugees by war. When she heard the Germans were coming, she and her sister biked across France under gunfire from Germans to safety in Portugal.

Kerry said one of his first memories as a child of 4 was walking hand in hand with his mother over broken window glass through the bombed-out, burned-down shell of her family house, which had only  a chimney and staircase left standing.

The Germans had used it for their headquarters, destroying it as Gen. Patton got close because his family knew Winston Churchill, said Kerry. His grandfather later rebuilt the house.

Kerry also recounted visiting Normandy Beach, where 425,000 Allied and German troops died, at age 5 with his father, a Foreign Service Officer. He returned with his wife years later, and the two watched as an apparent vet took his clothes and walked into the waves as if taking part in a ritual purification.

Kerry praised the Greatest Generation for laying the groundwork for the United States to rebuild Germany and Japan following the war. Don’t forget that, he told the audience, as we watch the alt-right and others attack our allies.

 “I saw what war cost. As a result, it was only logical that I serve in Vietnam,” he said. “There was an awareness of citizenship then that’s lacking today.”

One man voiced his frustration with how the Electoral College kept Hillary Clinton from winning the presidency even though she won the popular vote.

Kerry said he wasn’t ready to discard the institution just yet.  Without the Electoral College, he said, he could’ve spent enough money in California to get the votes he needed to win the Presidency in 2004. But, he said, ‘That’s not the way to do it.”

One young man voiced his opinion that Congressmen should forfeit their salaries during a government shutdown.

Kerry responded that he and some of his colleagues had donated their salaries to charity when the government shut down while he was in the Senate.

A college student from  Annapolis, Md., voiced his admiration of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old ex-bartender who upset  powerful Democrat Congressman Joseph Crowley in a New York primary and gone on to become the youngest woman ever elected to Congress.

How do you get more people who grew up where real people live to take part in government? he asked, noting that Ocasio-Cortez’s mother had to clean school buses for a living after her father—an architect—died.

Every major movement in our country from Civil Rights to Earth Day involved college students, people who marched, people who became active, Kerry replied.

In the face of growing sentiment that the Vietnam War was wrong, Eugene McCarthy and a bunch of kids formed the peanut butter-and-jelly brigade and went knocking on doors as they survived on PB&J sandwiches, Kerry said. And President Lyndon Johnson got the message and decided not to run for President again.

“They made the issue a voting issue. That’s how democracy works,” Kerry said.


Kerry said he understands that people feel there’s too much government regulation. “But now they’re taking away things that protect people.”


Kerry recounted how the United States took Colombia back from drug lords. That’s what needs to happen with El Salvador and other counties so their citizens can be safe, he said.


International deals regarding cyber warfare need to be inked, not unlike those dealing with nuclear weapons.


 Kerry noted that Presidents used to ask networks to allocate an hour for them to address the nation. President Obama had to go on “The View” to reach one segment of society, then on another show to reach additional Americans.


Kerry noted that he was probably the first casualty of fake news with untruthful charges leveled against him as a Swift Boat commander. “We need to beat back unwillingness to deal with facts.”


“The parties can work—it’s the people who have changed,” Kerry said.

 Kerry recounted how he used to attend dinners at Ted Kennedy’s that included Democrats and Republicans like Orrin Hatch.

“We sat around and laughed and had a glass wine. And I got Jesse Helms to sign off on the first ADIS bill. That can’t happen today because people are terrorizing their colleagues…We are wasting the political capitol of our nation, not making the decisions that need to be made to make America a leader again.”


If you think your vote doesn’t make a difference, look at the contest between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. Nixon beat Humphrey by one vote in each precinct, Kerry pointed out.

 In 2018 just 49 percent of registered voters cast votes, although that was up from 36 percent in the 2014 midterm elections. And the percentage of young voters dramatically increased from 19 percent to 31 percent.

“But not good enough,” said Kerry.


America needs to deliver a fair tax reform bill that rewards work. “We can’t make American great again without making America fair again,” said Kerry.

Kerry acknowledged that people are still feeling anger and pain dating back to the 2008 recession, especially as they watch the ultra-rich walk away richer.

 “We’ve got to hold people accountable, and I think that’s going to happen,” he said. “Everybody needs to buckle their seat belt and do what needs to be done.”



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