In 1970, a Vietnam veteran living in Waltham ran for the Democratic nomination in that year's congressional election. That veteran's name was John Forbes Kerry, and though he lost that race, it was but an early chapter in a remarkable career of political activism and public service.Mr. Kerry has, as the Democratic candidate in this election, gained much of his electoral base simply on the grounds that he his not George W. Bush. But since his once-moribund campaign surged to life in the Iowa caucus last January, Mr. Kerry has distinguished himself as a strong-willed, intelligent and skillful leader determined to lead the United States at one of the most trying moments in our history.

This campus has never been shy in its criticism of President Bush, and while the full litany of our grievances with him is too large for this editorial space, there are a few issues that to which we are particularly sensitive.

Of all of Mr. Bush's domestic failures, allowing nine million people to lose their health care coverage might be the most egregious. And of the 41 million Americans who have to make due without health insurance, 13 million are between the ages of 19 and 29. Indeed, this is our generation's greatest domestic issue. Mr. Bush proposals to solve this problem would only further line the pockets of insurance and drug companies. Mr. Kerry's proposed solution is comprehensive and compassionate. Allowing everyone to buy into the same healthcare plan that members of Congress are enrolled in will allow us to enjoy a broader range of doctors and to stop worrying about our checkbooks should we fall ill.

Mr. Kerry, a Roman Catholic, has shown during this campaign that a president can be a man of faith but not use his power to thrust his beliefs on others. A woman's right to choose her reproductive options has been reduced by Mr. Bush's legislation and judicial appointments. The candidate that wins this election will likely have the opportunity to nominate as many as four justices to the Supreme Court. Several of Mr. Bush's nominations to lower courts so far are zealously dedicated toward reversing the benchmark Roe v. Wade case. But no president should nominate judges using a single case as a litmus test, rather, the only metric for choosing judges should be a respect for the full range of constitutional rights, including women's rights to privacy and choice.

On the burgeoning issue of gay marriage, Mr. Bush has attempted to legislate discrimination into the Constitution through the filter of his religious faith. We need a president who understands that the freedoms of America ought to be available to all.

The price of higher education has skyrocketed under Mr. Bush's watch, too (this university is the 10th most expensive in the country). The president broke his promise to increase Pell Grant awards and even tried to raise interest rates on college loans. Mr. Kerry, however, has promised greater tuition assistance to students who deserve a college education but need help in bearing the cost.

America's credibility in the world is at risk in this election, too. The war in Iraq-which we must not forget that Mr. Kerry voted to authorize-turned from a hurried search for phantom weapons of mass destruction to a destructive occupation of a land on the precipice of civil war. Mr. Bush's administration promised the nation our armed forces would be greeted as liberators. Instead, in Iraq, our brave soldiers suffer daily attacks and private contractors are kidnapped and beheaded.

After Mr. Bush's poorly devised war, for which the official rationale changes constantly, who among other nations will trust us? The president went before the United Nations, but he quickly shunned our strongest allies when they asked the weapons inspectors finish their work. The great dilemma here for Mr. Kerry-which he has not sufficiently resolved yet-is how he intends to bring more nations into the fray. But it would be nice to return to the days when we could travel or study abroad without the ignominy of a foreign policy built on hubristic deceit.

The Bush administration's fight against terrorism consists of meaningless color-coded alerts and John Ashcroft and the Patriot Act truncating civil liberties. Mr. Kerry has real experience protecting this nation. As a prosecutor in Middlesex County he spent three years putting criminals away, and in the Senate he has been a leading voice on national security. Mr. Kerry is capable of intelligent leadership in the war on terrorism.

Our generation will inherit this country one day. By showing George W. Bush the door, the nation will be better off and we will look forward to a more promising future.

Voting for president is the most important decision a person makes in a democracy. It is for his lifetime of service to this state and this nation and for his forward-thinking policies that the Justice endorses Senator John Kerry for our next president.