David Swanson / War Is a Lie – 2012-03-07 23:11:53
The Peace Movement Needs Kucinich, With or Without Congress
(March 7, 2012) — If Congressman Dennis Kucinich becomes simply Dennis Kucinich sans the “Congressman” his value to the peace movement need not diminish.
I admit it’s been nice having someone in Congress who would say and do what he would. There have been and remain other relatively strong voices for peace, but none as strong as Kucinich’s. His resolutions have forced the debates. His bills have changed the conversation. His questioning of witnesses has afflicted the comfortable while seeking to comfort the afflicted. Perhaps Congressman Norman Solomon will pick up the baton. Time will tell.
But when I worked for Dennis Kucinich on his 2004 presidential campaign, I spent a lot of time talking with him, and his strength was not primarily his official title. Some elected officials draw on the strengths of their staff members and have fairly little to say on their own. Kucinich was not only willing to take creative and daring positions that stuck his neck out, but it was he who came up with them.
He knew more about the issues he worked on than any of his staff on the hill or on the campaign trail. He thought more deeply. He cut more quickly to the core of a problem. He brainstormed more rapidly and more radically. The peace movement cannot afford to lose Kucinich’s contributions just because Congress does.
Delegating authority was never Kucinich’s strong suit; he did amazingly well nonetheless by drawing on his own abilities. He worked extremely well with people, formed coalitions well, bridged divisions well, and overcame remarkable hurdles.
Those who complain that he failed to bring the rest of Congress along with him and was sometimes out ahead on his own will now get a chance to see whether a Congress without even that one voice is really an improvement.
Those who complained that Kucinich made compromises and caved in on healthcare will now get to see what good it does us to lose even a rhetorical voice for peace and social justice in the halls of our legislature.
Those who alleged that Kucinich’s function was to make the Democratic party seem better than it really was will now get the chance to witness all the Democrats-right-or-wrong partisans remaining right where they were even with Kucinich conveniently out of the way.
But the peace movement has a chance here that ought not to be missed. I have not discussed this with Kucinich and have no idea what he’s planning. But when a corporate hack retires from Congress he or she is eagerly courted by the think tanks of the corporate lobbies.
When a peace activist is forced out of Congress (an extreme rarity since there are almost no peace activists in there to be forced out) despite the overwhelming support of the people of Cleveland, Ohio, what should the response from the national and international peace movement be? We need Kucinich’s voice to remain loud or even to grow more full-throated outside of the confines of our nation’s capital of corruption.
We don’t need a leader to follow. We are better off with many leaders than one. We don’t need a messiah. But we need every talented and dedicated laborer for peace that can be found, and there are few that meet that description better than Kucinich does. If you’re planning a peace conference, I recommend trying to get him there.
If you’re trying to figure out how to bring outside public pressure to bear on an opaque and antidemocratic system, it might not hurt to draw on the insights of someone who’s been inside the rotten festering heart of the empire and lived to tell the tale. It doesn’t happen often that someone decent gets elected or unelected. We ought to consider what opportunities such events present us with.
David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio
Dennis Kucinich: A Voice of Sanity
Dennis Kucinich was a voice of sanity after 9/11, cautioning against lashing out at the world. He led the effort in Congress opposing George Bushâ€™s Iraq War. His October 2002 analysis of the call for war against Iraq stands today as a statement of clarity of vision and courage which, if heeded, would have spared the lives of US soldiers and Iraqi citizens alike.
His was a relentless challenge to the rationale for the war and a call for accountability for those who lied to drag us into the war. You may remember that it was Kucinich who led the effort to try to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney for their fabrications, prevarications, and other misstatements. When others were promising â€˜permanent war for permanent peaceâ€™ Kucinich was the one who pointed out the idiocy and the hypocrisy.
In the past decade, Kucinich opposed not only the war in Iraq, he voted against every single funding bill for war, whether Iraq or Afghanistan. It was Kucinich who again rose up to create a rare bipartisan coalition to thwart the war against Libya for a time. As the fundamentalists now take hold there, once again the question arises, why did we go into Libya? What was that really about?
Today, the neocons again are attempting to rush America into a war against Iran. It was Kucinich who took to the floor of the House in debate to knock down again and again the false claims that were being made to try to justify sanctions which could lead to still another war.
Months ago, Congressman Kucinichâ€™s district was dramatically altered by the Republican state legislature and the primary election is in only 19 days with mail-in balloting well underway. As a result, he is facing a highly competitive primary with a majority of new territory.
This champion of peace obviously cannot rely on war profiteers for funds necessary to gain re-election. He must rely on those of us who are peace profiteers, our friends and family, to be his support and his voice as he has been ours over the past decade and more.