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8 February 2004 Issue

Why I'm For Kucinich;
or How I Learned to Stop Worrying
and Love the Primaries

by Ann M. Seidl
From marr@vegsource.com

Let's start with that most aggravating of all election-year edicts: "He's got to be electable before I'll vote for him."

Okay, let's solve this once and for all. What exactly is electability? I think we can agree that in the current primary season, it means someone who can beat Bush in November.

Fine. But, first, what makes Bush so all-fired electable? Lest we forget, this  country didn't elect him president in 2000, so what makes people think he's going to be elected in 2004?

Slightly fewer than 1 in 4 Americans of voting age cast their ballot for the current White House occupant. That means that 75%, or 3 out of every 4 Americans running around did NOT vote for the man. And this is the guy who's responsible for instilling in the Democratic Party an unadulterated terror of electability? Please. Even the Republicans who supported him then are disgusted with him now. It's hard to imagine a bigger betrayal in the eyes of a right-of-center fiscal conservative than a $477 billion record deficit. And many, many Americans are deeply concerned about the needless and dangerous invasion of Iraq and the more than 500 dead.

"Well," some say, "I know what I want, but what about the guy in Peoria? He's too stupid to see through George W. Cheney's act, so I better vote for the most serious challenger or we'll get stuck with Dubya for four more years." The trouble is, the guy in Peoria is a chimera created out of whole cloth by the media. He doesn't exist, and no such voting pattern exists. Don't believe this oversimplification perpetuated by the hamstrung press. And who is the most serious challenger? I'll tell you who: Dennis J. Kucinich.

Dennis Kucinich is a 55-carat diamond. You know about diamonds. They're the hardest substance on earth, and nothing else refracts light with such clarity. And a diamond is only forged over eons of time under great pressure. When you bring a diamond in contact with any other material – rock, metal, glass – the diamond can cut it. The diamond itself is not changed, never diminished. It is always and everywhere a diamond.

So it is with Dennis John Kucinich, kid mayor and dyed-in-the-wool progressive. He reflects back to us the best in ourselves. His life has forged a great and good core, under some extreme conditions and over a long period of time. His life and his politics shine dazzlingly when exposed to the light of ordinary people's aspirations, their hopes, and their needs. The other candidates are cubic zirconium, but people can get confused by shiny things.

For months, the media has been keeping all available light away from Dennis Kucinich in the hope that no one will witness his diamond-like brilliance. The corporate media owners are reasonably terrified that under the Kucinich administration they'll have to start actually doing their jobs and/or they'll have to pay a true price for the natural resource that is the public airwaves.

Didn't we see this acuity during the Ted Koppel debate? He was so plain about it, so elegantly plain. No hysterics, not even a personal accusation against Koppel, Dennis just threw a spotlight on the media's superficiality: "I want the American people to see how the media does things. First we talked about endorsements, then about polls, and now we're on to money. When you do that, you don't need to talk about the issues." He was perfect. And were not the other candidates emboldened by his attachment to principles? The score that evening quickly became Democrats, 1, the media, zero. Dennis has been a leader of the other candidates throughout this whole primary season. His principles have an authority, a currency that emboldens me.

Dennis Kucinich, who was a communication major at Case-Western Reserve University and a copyboy at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, knows the Radio Act of 1927, and its 1934 amendments, by heart. He knows that the media are supposed to serve three masters: the public interest, the public necessity and the public convenience. This "stewardship" model for broadcast licensees has been so flouted as to make it farcical, but folks, that's about to change under Dennis's presidency.

I'm for Dennis because he isn't afraid of anything. He is thoughtful, intrepid, consistent and tenacious as a bulldog. His "Prayer for America," delivered in February 2002, will stand next to "Nothing to Fear but Fear Itself" in political speechmaking, mark my words.

I'm for Dennis because you can count on him. In the height of the anthrax attacks and all of Congress was running for their lives and signing anything that saluted, Congressman Kucinich took time to read the noxious Patriot Act and see it for what it is. He is the only candidate to have voted against it. He keeps his wits about him. While others hop on whatever political train (the war, the Patriot Act, gay marriage) looks like it has the most momentum, regardless of the direction it's headed, Dennis isn't swayed but remains calm and thoughtful to the last. Of all the candidates, to me he is by far the most presidential.

I'm voting for him because Dennis is the one person since I was 18 years old (my entire voting life) to ever, ever talk about cutting the Pentagon budget. I mean, why, exactly, do we need more weapons systems that don't work? It's as if I, on a salary of, say, $35,000, were to spend $17,000 on an SUV…every year. And I've already got 10. And 4 of them don't even start. No wonder I can't send my kid to college or afford to go to the doctor. Now, I wouldn't live my life like this, but we as a nation do.

Kucinich will tame that beast, and no joke. None of the other candidates is even touching this sacred cow.

I'm for Dennis because he's authentic. I met him for the first time on August 5, 2003, when I drove to a campaign stop in Illinois from my home in Madison, WI. I brought him a couple of books I thought he'd find useful. He asked me to write down my name and address, but I said, "Oh, Dennis, it's not important. You don't have to thank me and I'm already on your volunteer list." He looked me straight in the eye and said quietly, "It's important to me." As Studs Terkel concluded, Kucinich is the One.

I'm for Dennis Kucinich because he's the smartest person in the race. My heavens, but Dennis Kucinich is smart. He was right about WMD (there weren't any), he's right about the war (get the UN in and the U.S. out now), and about single-payer health care (what choice do we have – pay 40 or 50% of our income on health insurance in five years? `Cause that's where we're headed), and he's right about canceling NAFTA and the WTO and about free college tuition and the racist war on drugs and don't even get me started on his unparalleled humanity with respect to Israel and Palestine.

And there's so much more. Check this out, for instance: he's got a plan to make zero- interest, 30-year loans to states and cities to repair their roads, schools and water systems. Apparently, the money in regular circulation cycles at the Federal Reserve could serve to fund local infrastructure projects (woefully outdated) and put people to work at the same time. See what I'm saying about smart?

George W. Rove's gargantuan war chest is sitting there like a time bomb. Can you imagine the havoc that money is going to wreck on a Howard Dean? A John Kerry? A John Edwards? Wesley Clark?! But it can't touch a Dennis Kucinich. He's bulletproof, he's Teflon. What are they going to say? That he's a vegan? Great. We'll trot out Cheney's personal emergency room in the Vice Presidential residence and that will be that. That he's a hippie tree-hugger? Fine. He'll show you how environmentally safe stewardship by family farmers and small businesses have actually increased their bottom line. I can only pray they bring up Cleveland.

His critics have exactly two things against him. First, the Cleveland Default of 1978 and second, his change of heart on the right-to-choose debate. In both cases, it boils down to "bring `em on." With the first, we (his supporters) get to brag about his integrity in the face of corporate greed, conflicts of interest and scare tactics. In the second, we get to tout this as an example of how he listens, how he evolves and in the last analysis, how he can put aside his personal convictions for the sake of the greater good. Trust me, Dennis is the guy we want going against BushCo.

A contemporary Buddhist philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda of Japan, once planned to go to the Soviet Union in 1974, when relations between Japan and the USSR were at a complete standstill. When asked why he was making the trip, he replied, "Because there are people there." That's the kind of spirit I see in Dennis Kucinich.

Okay, so if I'm doing the math right, we have in the Nay category, one reason: "I can't vote for him because he's not electable." (Translation: I can't vote for him because I don't have the political huevos or moral will to vote my conscience.)

On the other hand, here are numerous reasons to vote for Dennis, any of which is a sure bet to increase your confidence and dispel your fear.

1. "I will vote for him because if I do he becomes electable." (Well, yeah, duh.)

2. "I'll vote for him because he's the only one who'll get us out of a Vietnam-style perpetual and costly war in Iraq." (Dennis's plan will get the UN in and the US out in a matter of weeks.)

3. "I'll vote for him because, unlike Howard Dean, he's won his last four elections with progressively larger percentages of the vote, and unlike John Kerry, he knows what it's like to be broke and still have to fill the car with gas." This is an ordinary guy – he gets it.

4. "I'll vote for him because he's the only one who can beat Bush." (The others are simply not strong enough or different enough than politics-as-usual, and lots of people would end up staying home again. With Dennis, we'll get Greens, Hispanics, Libertarians, Natural Law Party members, and, oh yes, Democrats. Can you say "landslide?")

And the number one reason to vote for Dennis Kucinich, "I'll vote for Dennis because he best represents my principles and that's the only reason to vote in the first place."

C'mon, people, let's turn on the light and see for ourselves that the monster in the corner is only a hat rack. Bush is not the Terminator, the Indestructible Man. George W. Rumsfeld is only frightening when we as Americans fail or refuse to trust our own instincts and our own consciences. I feel good, correct if you will, knowing I'm supporting Dennis Kucinich, Congressman from Ohio. It's just the right thing to do. And after all, what else is there? Merely politics.

You'll see. Take a deep breath and go ahead and support Dennis. You will be rewarded because he will continue to climb, he'll stay in the race and keep fighting for you and me. The tipping point with Dennis is going to be a thing of beauty, historic, monumental. Ultimately, we/he will prevail in the nominating process, and the world will be safer, brighter and truer. As Diamond Dennis himself says, "It's inevitable, really." Because this is the moment.

To read DK's inspiring speeches & his platform, go to:
http://www.kucinich.us 

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