by David Swanson
January 28, 2008 at 17:16:49
Congressman Dennis Kucinich is facing a tough primary in five weeks in his working class district in Cleveland, Ohio. He’s up against better funded opponents and the concerted effort of the corporate and media powers of Cleveland that have opposed him since long before he took that seat away from a Republican.
Kucinich is a progressive candidate who inspires passionate support from many in Cleveland who might not turn out to vote for a DLC Democrat. If he loses his primary, the Democrats may lose the seat. And if he loses the primary, the Democrats will, without any doubt, have lost something more valuable: their spine.
Kucinich fared poorly in the presidential primaries. But he tended to win surveys that asked about issues and then matched you up with the closest candidate. He often won post-debate polls following those debates that the corporate media allowed him to participate in. He usually finished first or second in polls conducted by progressive activist groups. And quite often, just as four years ago, his speeches won the loudest and longest applause. But, rightly or wrongly, most people who agreed with Kucinich more than any other candidate, tended (at least in the few states that decide these things) to back another candidate for president.
Whether we’re glad that Kucinich’s voice was a part of the Eternal Campaign for many months, or not, we can agree that off the election circuit for many years now Kucinich has had our backs. He has stood alone or in rare company on Capitol Hill for positions backed by 90 percent of Democrats outside the Beltway. He has been there for working people, for labor rights, for the poor, for minorities. He has been there for immigrants, for the sick, for the homeless. When he’s asked to bash immigrants, he quotes the words from the Statue of Liberty. And when he was asked to support the erosion of our rights and the build up to a fraudulent war in Iraq, he sued the President in court, published a report showing White House claims about Iraq to be lies, and organized two-thirds of the Democrats in the House to vote No.
“What would it be like,” Kucinich asked in the presidential debates, in reference to his opponents’ shifting positions on NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the invasion of Iraq, the bankruptcy bill, etc., “to have a president who is right the first time?”
Now, we have to ask ourselves what it would be like to have a Congress without anyone who is right the first time. There are other leaders in Congress, of course. There are mavericks on the right like Ron Paul, whose pro-peace supporters will understand the need to keep Kucinich in Congress and can be counted on to help with it. And there are leaders on the left. Barbara Lee stood alone against attacking Afghanistan. But no member of Congress has been as reliable a leader as Kucinich. None has come close. If the peace movement spends 2008 distracted from real action by an obsession with presidential politics, but does not get behind Kucinich’s congressional race in a national way, then we truly will have lost our bearings.
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