by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
With the gerrymandered defeat of Dennis Kucinich, the Congress has lost its last, best progressive. “Called crazy or wacky, Kucinich is nothing more than what other Democrats ought to be.” Kucinich stood firm, when all in the Progressive and Black Caucuses folded. “If there is no room for one, not even one true Democrat, then there should no longer be any allegiance to that party.”
Freedom Rider: Farewell Congressman Kucinich
by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
“His eight terms in congress will end this year because he was not tolerated by the rulers.”
If America were a democracy in the truest sense of the word, our political representatives would in fact represent our interests. They would fight for public education and against wars. We would have single payer health care and affordable housing. Banks would not be permitted to devastate our communities with red lining or foreclosures and the top 1% wouldn’t be allowed to create bubble economies which create havoc around the world.
But our country is a democracy in name only. We do get to cast our votes periodically, but anyone who does want to represent the interests of the people is not tolerated by this system.
Dennis Kucinich is such a person. His eight terms in congress will end this year because he was not tolerated by the rulers. Kucinich’s congressional career ended because of the time honored yet often corrupt process of gerrymandering districts. Electoral district lines are redrawn every ten years based on census data, and because the state of Ohio lost population, it also lost congressional seats.
The Ohio rulers in the Republican-run state legislature decided to redraw lines which pitted two Democratic incumbents, Dennis Kucinich and Marcy Kaptur, against one another. The new district was mostly made up of Kaptur’s old district, and Kucinich was defeated in the primary election.
“Anyone who wants to represent the interests of the people is not tolerated by this system.”
The corporate media and their pundits were always quick to dismiss Kucinich, and wasted no time in kicking him now that he is down and out. Called crazy or wacky, Kucinich is nothing more than what other Democrats ought to be. He represents the interests of most Americans, and calls out the powerful for their abuse.
The rightward shift in American politics puts anyone who truly believes in democracy on the outs. When Kucinich sponsored articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, his effort was righteous but doomed, and doomed by his own.
His fellow Democrats couldn’t get behind him because some of them were collaborators with the Bush regime. Then Speaker Nancy Pelosi couldn’t support articles of impeachment which charged Bush with the crime of torture because she was briefed on and tacitly supported the practice. It is but one example of why Kucinich’s political career was also doomed, and why he finally was unable to dodge that last bullet.
Dennis Kucinich stood up when no one else would. In 2006, when the first reports surfaced indicating a death toll of 1 million Iraqis at the hands of the United States, it was Kucinich, alone among members of congress, who demanded answers. Not one other member of Congress, not from the Progressive Caucus, or the Congressional Black Caucus joined him. It is that kind of bravery which finally cost him his political career.
“He finally was unable to dodge that last bullet.”
If there can be any criticism of Kucinich it should be leveled over his support of Barack Obama’s health care plan. For many years Kucinich was steadfast in his support of single payer health care, Medicare for all. But Obama was having none of it, and as always crushed the party’s progressive wing in order to get his way. He threatened to campaign against any Democrats who wouldn’t support his wolf in sheep’s clothing corporate health care bail out. Kucinich succumbed to the Obama steamroller and lived to see another day in 2010, but his number was up in 2012 and he will soon be a former member of congress.
In an era when presidential campaign spending hits the 1 billion dollar mark, and the once progressive Congressional Black Caucus is as corporate controlled as any other, the likelihood of true democracy is slim. The pressures which compromised Kucinich in the health care debate and which finally took him out altogether will not permit his like to emerge again.
In an era when representing the desires of the people makes one a political outlaw, it is time to ask some hard questions. If there is no room for one, not even one true Democrat, then there should no longer be any allegiance to that party. When the attorney general in a Democratic administration asserts a government right to assassinate at will, then it is passed time to leave that party behind.
“The pressures which compromised Kucinich in the health care debate and which finally took him out altogether will not permit his like to emerge again.”
If Dennis Kucinich, who was truly antiwar, is shown the door, while the drone-dropping Obama sits in the oval office, then we know everything we need to know. Supporting the Democratic Party is a losing proposition, as Kucinich discovered when his support of the health care bill only postponed his inevitable political demise. We should laud the many courageous stands he took on our behalf, but learn a lesson from that experience.
Hopefully Kucinich will find other ways to make a political impact. His voice is an important one, and shouldn’t be silenced because he is now out of office. Perhaps being out of Congress will give him greater power, the power to move people to political action without the constraints of party loyalty. It is difficult to imagine a better person for the job.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at http://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.