Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Kucinich Falters

Going through an old file I came upon a column I once wrote about Dennis Kucinich, the boy mayor of Cleveland. He’d just squeaked though a recall referendum, and the media were calling that a sock in the eye. I said heck no, it was a blazing triumph: Normally, people don’t vote FOR a candidate but against all the others. That time there was only one on the ballot, and a majority voted for him. They were right, too. He saved the municipal power plant, and that turned out to be a blessing for Cleveland .

Kucinich eventually moved on to the national battleground. Among the nine candidates for president in the Democratic primaries, he was the first to denounce the party’s betrayal of the New Deal, the first to challenge the war on Iraq. He won a few electoral votes, and promised to carry his fight to the convention. Well, I’m sorry to report that Kucinich seems to have let us down. According to the Times, John Kerry’s people -- that is, Bill Clinton’s people - talked Kucinich into withdrawing his plank calling for a prompt withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, the draft calls for withdrawal “when appropriate” -- in weasel words that even the Bush gang could endorse.

Now, the platform that Ralph Nader proposed to Kerry was, I believe, a winning platform, right on all the major issues. But many good folk who agree with it are terrified that Nader would take enough votes away from Kerry to elect Bush. Republicans think so too, and are trying to help Nader get on the ballot, while Democrats try to keep him off. It’s not a pretty picture. In any case, progressives should be fighting right now, every day, to salvage the Democratic platform, to elect decent candidates to Congress and local office and, above all, to bring the troops home. That advice goes for Dennis Kucinich, who, I hope, will quickly coime to his senses.