Newsflash:
Rep. Barbara Lee Rep. Dennis Kucinich Congress Will Be Diminished by the Departure of Dennis Kucinch
Friday, 04 January 2013 18:19

Congress Will Be Diminished by the Departure of Dennis Kucinch

Written by  John Nichols | The Nation
Congress Will Be Diminished by the Departure of Dennis Kucinch AP Photo/Harry Hamburg

Dennis Kucinich has had many political lives. Elected to the Cleveland City Council in 1969 at age 23, he was in 1977 elected as that great American city’s “boy mayor.” Kucinich’s refusal to bend to the demands of the downtown banks and the utility corporations that wanted him to privatize public services led to a withering electoral assault that would eventually force him from office.

For much of the 1980s, Kucinich was a political pariah, running and losing races in his native Ohio and slowly fading from the national limelight he had once enjoyed.

Then, in the “Republican revolution” year of 1994, Kucinich stunned local and state (and even a few natrional) observers by emerging as one of only a handful of Democratic legislative candidates to upset a sitting Republican state senator. Two years later, he ran for Congress against one of Newt Gingrich’s Republican lieutenants and won a Cleveland-area House seat.

The Kucinich who came to Congress in the 1990s was every bit as incorruptible and uncompromising on principle as the “boy mayor” who fought Cleveland’s crony capitalists in the 1970s. He opposed trade deals, deregulation schemes and, most notably, the wars of whim of Democratic and Republican presidents. By 2000, he was arguing that Democrats should include in their platform a proposal for a “Department of Peace” that would use diplomacy, development aid and environmental initiatives rather than drones, occupations and crackdowns on basic liberties to create real security for the United States and the planet.

Kucinich’s ardent opposition to George W. Bush’s rush to war with Iraq—which began when most Democrats were still deferring to Bush in the aftermath of the September 11, 2011, attacks—identified him (with California Congresswoman Barbara Lee) as the rare congressional champion of a burgeoning anti-war movement.

That championship led to calls—from Studs Terkel, among others—for Kucinich to seek the presidency. And, though his 2004 and 2008 presidential runs fell short of the popular vote and delegate totals needed to secure the party’s nomination, they were long on ideas. Even those who dismissed Kucinich as a serious presidential prospect admitted that he forced his fellow candidates to address questions of war and peace, economic justice and civil liberties that might otherwise have been neglected.

Kucinich played a pivotal role in the 2008 Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses. In precincts where there were not enough Kucinich backers to reach the 15 percent threshold for securing delegates, the Kucinich camp urged supporters to caucus with backers of Barack Obama. Kucinich’s assist to the one major candidate who had opposed going to war with Iraq helped Obama establish a six-point lead over John Edwards (and an eight-point lead over presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton) in Iowa. The strength of that showing propelled Obama into serious contention for the nomination.

After the 2004 campaign, Kucinich’s backers organized into a highly effective advocacy and campaigning group, Progressive Democrats of America, which remains a presence nationwide. And the congressman returned to the House.

Despite the role he played in aiding Obama’s candidacy, however, Kucinich continued to serve as an independent progressive. As he had during the Clinton years, Kucinich frequently led the left opposition to a centrist Democratic administration. He could bend when it seemed absolutely necessary—as he did on the vote for the Affordable Care Act. But when Obama sent more troops to Afghanistan, bombed Libya, extended the national-security state or approved new free-trade deals, Kucinich refused to go along. Frequently, his was the House’s clearest and steadiest voice of progressive opposition to compromises by his fellow Democrats. And, in a chamber where there was much talk of the Constitution, it was Kucinich who fought some of the loneliest—yet most necessary—fights to restore the rule of law, especially when it came to the requirement that wars be declared by Congress, not launched on the whim of presidents.

Kucinich’s independence left him vulnerable when Ohio Republicans redrew congressional district lines before the 2012 election. The congressman was thrown into a new district with another Democrat, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, to whom he lost a primary. And now, Kucinich has finished his eighth term in the House—and his current congressional tenure.

He has not gone quietly. Indeed, his final statements were calls to action, including a plea to enact a constitutional amendment “to rid this nation of the corrupting influence of special interest money with public financing which recreates a true government for the people.”

The Congress will be diminished by his absence, and that of two other steadily anti-war representatives who are retiring this year: California Democrat Lynn Woolsey and Texas Republican Ron Paul. But as someone who has seen Kucinich rise and fall and rise again, I would caution against assuming his political journey is done.

If there is a wrongheaded war to be opposed, an economic injustice to be challenged, an environmental crisis to be recognized and addressed, Dennis Kucinich will be raising his voice. And I would never, ever rule out the prospect that he might well do so once more as a member of the House or in some other elected post. It’s not that Kucinich needs personally to remain in politics—he could do many other things—it is that America will again need his conscience, his clarity, his courage.

Original article on The Nation

Read 1740 times

ERA Legislation in your State

Unratified states Gold - Ratified States Purple

Latest News from the Lee Campaign

Latest News from the Grayson Campaign

Latest News from the Schapira Campaign

  • Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race
    Standard-Bearer in Pivotal Arizona Congressional Race

    With early ballots in the mail, and only three weeks from the August 28th primary, State Senator David Schapira has emerged as the Democratic standard-bearer in a closely watched and increasingly nasty three-way congressional race in Arizona that many observers see as a litmus test for national Democratic chances to pick up critical seats in Congress.

    Written on Thursday, 09 August 2012 01:45 Read more...
  • Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Harry Mitchell Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    “The primary in Congressional District 9 has pitted three of the brightest members of the Democratic Party in Arizona against each other. All three candidates are leaders in our state and I am honored to call them friends.

    Written on Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:14 Read more...
  • A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira
    A Guest Post From Arizona Progressive State Senator David Schapira

    Endorsements are a funny thing. Most of them aren't worth anything at all. I have two friends running in the Democratic primary in Arizona's brand new 9th CD, Kyrsten Sinema and Andrei Cherny. Kyrsten is a progressive and Andrei is somewhere in his own world ideologically. But the third guy... well, he's the one who's been endorsed by Raúl-- and by PDA. Whomever wins the August 28th primary is, likelier than not, headed to Congress. That third guy is David Schapira, the Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Saturday, 30 June 2012 13:38 Read more...
  • David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement
    David Schapira Receives PDA Endorsement

    On the May Inside the Party call, David Schapira (AZ-9) received the PDA National endorsement. Currently David Schapira is the Arizona State Senate Democratic Leader.

    Written on Thursday, 24 May 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress
    Arizona Communications Workers of America State Council Endorses David Schapira for Congress

    The Arizona Communications Workers of America (CWA) State Council announced today their endorsement of Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in the race for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. The state council is comprised of the Arizona Correctional Peace Officers Association (AZCPOA), the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and multiple CWA local affiliates.

    Written on Thursday, 17 May 2012 19:55 Read more...
  • Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira
    Congressman Raúl Grijalva Endorses David Schapira

    Congressman Raúl Grijalva, AZ-07, today announced his endorsement of Arizona Senate Democratic Leader David Schapira, D-Tempe, in his campaign for Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District. “Voters are looking for candidates who stand up for what they believe in and can win, not by hiding their values, but by sharing them with voters. David is that candidate,” said Rep. Grijalva.

    Written on Monday, 30 April 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • Arizona Union Rights Stripped

    Arizona Governor Jan Brewer pushes the country's most anti-union agenda yet. David Shapira, Democratic leader of the Arizona state senate, slams his Republican colleagues. Welcome back to "The Ed Show." Jan Brewer and the Arizona Republicans are on a tear. they are on the offensive. they are on a mission to completely destroy public employee unions. have you heard the story before?

    Written on Thursday, 02 February 2012 00:00 Read more...
  • State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race
    State Senator David Schapira Jumps Into District 9 Congressional Race

    As predicted, former state Senator Kyrsten Sinema's not the only Democrat with her eye on Arizona's new Congressional seat -- this morning, state Senate Minority Leader David Schapira announced that he, too, will run in Arizona's newly formed 9th Congressional district.

    Written on Tuesday, 17 January 2012 00:00 Read more...

Sign the Petition - Sen. Sanders Run as a Democrat in 2016

Button-SandersPetition

Like Rep. Barbara Lee

Lori Wallach on the TPP from PDA Progressive Roundtable

Progressive Roundtable with Reps. Ellison and Pocan and Lori Wallach on TPP

TPP: The Biggest Threat to the Internet You've Probably Never Heard Of