A Vote For Dennis Kucinich
by Jeff Dinelli
"I am strong but have no force or power
I win all yet remain a loser
At break of day I say goodnight
When I lie down I have a great fear of falling."
-- Francois Villon
This quote was found in a notebook I keep full of Meaningful Things I come across in my reading, so I have no idea where I originally read it, an old college textbook, perhaps. Right now it seems like a very apt little stroke, reaching back into time and French poetry for a reminder that a sense of doomed alienation on your own turf is nothing new.
Being a "progressive" (when did we stop being called liberals?), it's very difficult to recognize my voice, my views, my concerns in the media today, let alone in a politician. Sure, there's Air America Radio, a handful of magazines, and to a degree, Bill Maher and Keith Olbermann on cable television, but most of the time it's just me shouting at a wall, or talking to people who look at me like I'm a freak in a carnival sideshow. Since Steve kindly allowed me to write on his site, I've met some kindred spirits, and exploring the Left's netroots is a mostly healthy exercise in finding writers who still believe in democracy, the Constitution, justice for all citizens, and a hunger for world peace in a time of corruption at the top levels of government that would make Richard Milhous Nixon blush; wire-tapping, torture, race-baiting, rampant homophobia, and an illegal war based on lies which has needlessly claimed the lives and limbs of tens of thousands of our children.
I weaseled my way onto The Left Coaster volunteering to follow Senator Hillary Clinton's campaign. I've always found her to be a fascinating public figure, and what other campaign would have as many fireworks and controversies as hers? There has not been a lack of writing material, that's for sure, and though I don't share her opinion on many issues, I've nearly always defended her against unfair attacks on her politics and strategy. I think she'd make a fine President, and would gladly support her in the general election, for I believe she's far and away the strongest, smartest and most experienced candidate among those who currently stand atop the polls.
But when the Illinois Democratic Primary rolls around on February 5th, I will not be voting for her. I'll be voting for Congressman Dennis Kucinich. For he is a man who speaks directly to my heart; a courageous, True Patriot.
Kucinich, a five-term Congressman who is the chair of the Progressive Caucus due to his passionate commitment to peace, human rights, worker's rights, economic justice and the environment, has a knack for writing legislation that makes just too much sense, is too original, for our moronic fourth estate to understand.
He's not afraid to speak out on the tough issues, and he's usually right on the money. He's bright and thoughtful. He does his homework and he expresses his points clearly, methodically and very rationally. He rarely strays from a position once he's really dug into it, researched it and presented it. He's able to hold his own against anyone with an opposing viewpoint, making him a great debater who can articulate, explain, analyze, dissect and present information. And then there's the passion. You can feel it when he speaks to ordinary folks, blue-collar workers and minorities. It truly seems like he feels their pain, understands their worries and concerns. Kucinich doesn't project the feeling of a politician who wants to help you but at the same time goes home to a mansion acquired through family privilege. He's the little league coach, the guy you see in the gas station who always wants to know how the kids are doing....you know, an ordinary guy.
People from his own party nervously backed away when he rightly composed articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney this week, but then his very existence makes democracy-haters nervous, for he is not bashful expressing his love of said democracy, something he is so dedicated to protect and eager to defend.
"Don't waste your vote," "He has no chance," the Great Political Thinkers of our time exclaim, apparently forgetting the last two Presidential elections, in which real votes were indeed literally wasted, intentionally, in 2000's Florida and 2004's Ohio. And if I don't vote with my heart during the primary, what am I voting for? Some strategy put forward by party leaders or media elites, urging me to quickly get behind the candidate with the best chance of defeating the Republicans in November, 2008? Why? For what reason? If I don't vote to make my voice heard, to possibly unite with enough like-minded progressives so our issues may carry enough influence to hopefully have a seat at the Democratic table, then I'm abandoning all Hope. And Hope, at this dark turning point in America's brief history, is all we have.
So who is this guy, the short dude always whipping out his pocket-sized copy of the Constitution, who is always the most eloquent candidate, the one who receives the most applause, when he's allowed to speak, at the debates? Most of you know his history, of being elected Mayor of Cleveland at the age of 31 in 1978, who took on the vested interests and refused to sell off the city-owned electric system to a private competitor who had very deep connections with the area's most powerful banks, a stand that got him promptly squashed by the monopolized, monied interests and eventually voted out of office, but not out of the minds of locals who found his principled stand heroic. For those of you who don't know his history and rise to national prominence, his website will enlighten you, if you wish.
He is firmly against the death penalty and the USA Patriot Act. In 1998 and 2004 he was a US delegate to the UN convention on climate change. At home he is a tireless advocate to save the 90-year-old steel industry. He has stood in defiant opposition to President George Bush's tedious demands for more money to fund his illegal, immoral and ineffective wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In October of 2002 he voted against approving the war. He tirelessly and courageously spoke out so many times against the war from the House floor that he was handed the Ghandhi Peace Award in 2003, the same year he co-wrote a resolution insuring all those on Medicare, which turned into his call during the 2004 presidential campaign for universal single payer not for profit health care, which he continues to support. He claimed during one debate he would have all combat troops out of Iraq within the first 3 months of his administration.
Kucinich's current platform is based on a new national security doctrine of Strength Through Peace, a broadside shot against the neo-cons' dominant Peace Through Strength. Strength Through Peace does away with unilateralism, preemption and first strike in favor of direct engagement, diplomacy, and, imagine this, following international law.
He also wants to save American jobs by taking us out of NAFTA and the WTO, returning to bilateral trade agreements based on securing workers' rights and the environment. He would double the tax refunds and credits for those making $80,000 or less. Kucinich wants to provide universal education to all Americans from pre-school through college.
He says he would pay for these programs and more by "eliminating waste from our bloated, inefficient military budget, shift the tax burden to those who can most afford it and saving hundreds of billions in health care costs by the money spent by the insurance industry excluding people from coverage and paying for profits and exorbitant salaries."
Ok, ok, these proposals all sound great, but you know why I love him? No, it's not because of his wife. It's because the kinds of things we write about and complain about and question here in the threads Kucinich SAYS OUT LOUD in the House. The Iraq war wasn't a "mistake." He clearly states that the primary motive of BushCo for invading was to provide a cheap source of oil for our oil companies. We're trying to force an agreement with Iraq to get their ok to steal their oil. Kuchinich calls the invasion what it was -- a war crime. And he asks our questions by pointing out the obvious, a frequent "problem" for him with the corportate media and other Dems: How the hell is imperialism in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East going to lead to stabilization of the country or the region? That's the supposed reason we're still there, right?
Look, I'm a realist, also. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say he doesn't have much of a chance. But his courageous statements about the Bush administration's betrayal of the most basic American values, his push to impeach Cheney, these things must be heard. If his share of votes reaches double digits, and more and more people hear his message, that would be a victory in itself. In fact, I'm not even buying into the corporate news media's claims that he's not a viable candidate. I refuse that insidious message, which only lowers expectations of a more progressive voice gaining traction within the Democratic Party.
Strength Through Peace. For once, let's see ourselves through the eyes of the rest of the world and act responsibly in our foreign policies. Dennis Kucinich is the one candidate who can lead us in that direction.
Dennis Kucinich is My Man for 2008.