The corporate rulers of the United States are determined to have their revenge against Dennis Kucinich, the heroic Ohio congressman who held high the progressive banner in the last two Democratic presidential primary seasons. Not content with having banned Kucinich from a succession of debates and erased his name and platform from the daily media discourse – finally forcing him to withdraw for lack of funds – corporate Democrats now conspire to oust him from his Cleveland congressional seat. Kucinich has been targeted by the same forces, and for the same fate as befell Georgia’s Cynthia McKinney and Alabama’s Earl Hilliard: exile from the Big Business-infested Democratic Party.
Freedom Rider: Democrats Target Kucinich for Defeat
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“Somewhere, somehow people have to win a victory over corporate control and corporate greed.” – Congressman Dennis Kucinich
In his presidential campaigns in 2004 and 2008, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich told Democrats a brutal truth. Party orthodoxy is a disaster, a series of lies that must no longer be accepted. While his opponents, Obama, Clinton and Edwards, made it clear they weren’t serious about ending the occupation of Iraq, Kucinich presented a plan to do just that. When they made the case for leaving a failed for-profit health care system intact, Kucinich said that non-profit universal care was possible. He co-sponsored legislation calling for impeachment hearings against Vice President Cheney and President Bush while leadership declared the criminals should go free.
While Barack Obama garners 80% to 90% of black votes in the primaries, it is the Kucinich platform that actually expresses the political opinions of most black Americans. Disavowal of American military aggression and support for government enforcement of legal and civil rights of citizens are the hallmarks of Kucinich’s history. Obama makes eloquent but empty speeches bereft of specifics. In contrast, Kucinich’s national political life appeared to be over shortly after it began because he took a courageous stand against corporate power.
“It is the Kucinich platform that actually expresses the political opinions of most black Americans.”
Elected mayor of Cleveland in 1977, Dennis Kucinich refused to allow a privately owned electrical utility to purchase that city’s publicly owned utility. In an effort to force the sale and thereby create a monopoly, banks refused to extend the city any credit and plunged it into default. Kucinich paid the price for his principles when he was defeated in his re-election effort. Years later Kucinich was vindicated, having stopped what would have been an enormous corporate theft of public money and services.
Kucinich returned first to the Cleveland City Council, then the Ohio state legislature, and in 1996 he was elected to Congress. Despite his vast experience, he was forced to drop out of this year’s presidential race. The lack of media and debate access were not his only problems. He faces a fierce challenge that once again puts his political survival in jeopardy.
In December 2007, Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman declared himself a challenger for Kucinich’s congressional seat. Within fifteen days, Cimperman raised more than $39,000 from fifteen contributors, none of whom reside in the 10th District that is being contested. Cimperman is no different from these contributors. He doesn’t live in the district either but that doesn’t matter to the lawyers, bankers and real estate developers who are giving him money. They expect access and influence. Cimperman’s address, like the interests of residents, is of no importance to them.
Cimperman supporters are not alone in wanting Kucinich out of office. Cleveland’s daily newspaper, the Plain Dealer, endorsed Cimperman, and didn’t mince words about wanting Kucinich gone.
“Kucinich repeatedly has defied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.”
“Congress runs on relationships and loyalties. Yet Kucinich repeatedly has defied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team [emphasis mine] by not supporting their attempts to impose a deadline on U.S. involvement in Iraq – even when those attempts were part of realistic bipartisan proposals to recalibrate a policy he detests.”
Support for Nancy Pelosi and the awful Democratic Congressional leadership should not be held up as the standard for political success. After declaring that Kucinich’s principles aren’t worth supporting, the Plain Dealer heaps further insult by comparing Kucinich to Democrats who win approval by failing the people. Barney Frank is used as an example. “. . . he knows when and how to cut a deal. He delivers [emphasis mine] for his party, his constituents and his beliefs.”
Citizens never benefit from what Barney Frank or Nancy Pelosi would call victory. There is no bipartisan recalibration with the Bush regime. Bush still gets what he wants from Democrats. They fund the Iraq occupation, support trade deals that endanger American workers, refuse to rebuild the Gulf Coast, and say nothing when administration officials ignore their subpoenas. Because acquiescence is equated with political rectitude, Kucinich flunks the test.
“Kucinich was the only progressive in the presidential campaign.”
So great is the pressure to get rid of Kucinich, that Cleveland’s Mayor, Frank Jackson, also endorsed Cimperman. Elected officials usually endorse incumbents, or refrain from making endorsements altogether. The pressure to get rid of Kucinich is overwhelming.
The Democratic leadership has a history of punishing their own who dare to oppose Republicans. Cynthia McKinney was twice sent packing from Congress because she wouldn’t toe the line. Now it may be Kucinich’s turn.
Kucinich is a “black” congressional candidate. He was the only progressive in the presidential campaign. His re-election should be the first priority for activists in this presidential campaign year. Imagine a Congress with no voice for impeachment. Imagine Congress with no questions about Iraqi civilian casualties. Imagine a Congress without Kucinich when Bush decides on his pretext for war against Iran. Imagine the worst, because that is what we will have if Kucinich is defeated.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com. More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.