Notes on the Atrocities
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Tuesday, June 17, 2003  

Dennis Kucinich, the Progressive Candidate

Dean's a populist, and a damn good one. But he ain't a progressive. He's a solid New England moderate of the Olympia Snowe, Jim Jeffords variety. He appears to be speaking from conviction rather than political calculation, and my sense is that we can take him at his word. He appears to be a good and honorable man, and I expect he would make a sober and reliable president. Spin his candidacy any way you like, though, and you can't turn him into a progressive.

In this election, there's only one progressive: Dennis Kucinich. Whereas Dean's issues are security, fiscal responsibility, and health care, Kucinich has a real vision for the big picture. He's the only candidate who doesn't essentially give de facto support to the idea of an American empire and its various institutions of power. He opposes the drug war and capital punishment. He wants to repeal the Patriot Act. He is suspicious of the increasing power of corporations in our foods, our politics, and our health care system. And finally, he's the only candidate who wants to engage the rest of the world and promote peace at home and abroad to undermine the causes of violence and terror.

While Dean supports the "Circle of Preparation" as an approach to security, Kucinich proposes a Department of Peace. Listen:

Citizens across the United States are now uniting in a great cause to establish a Department of Peace, seeking nothing less than the transformation of our society, to make non-violence an organizing principle, to make war archaic through creating a paradigm shift in our culture for human development for economic and political justice and for violence control. Its work in violence control will be to support disarmament, treaties, peaceful coexistence and peaceful consensus building. Its focus on economic and political justice will examine and enhance resource distribution, human and economic rights and strengthen democratic values.

Domestically, the Department of Peace would address violence in the home, spousal abuse, child abuse, gangs, police-community relations conflicts and work with individuals and groups to achieve changes in attitudes that examine the mythologies of cherished world views, such as 'violence is inevitable' or 'war is inevitable'. Thus it will help with the discovery of new selves and new paths toward peaceful consensus. . . .

Violence is not inevitable. War is not inevitable. Nonviolence and peace are inevitable. We can make of this world a gift of peace which will confirm the presence of universal spirit in our lives. We can send into the future the gift which will protect our children from fear, from harm, from destruction.

(He is also the only candidate who doesn't speak in the third person on his website, which is nice. Somehow, writing those things in the third person freaks me out. I don't want to know what your press agent thinks you think, I want to know what YOU think.)

Dean's a great anti-Bush candidate, but I believe we can do better. I believe that the conservatives have controlled the discussion long enough; it's time for someone with a new vision for America to emerge from the left. We need to switch the argument from "the future's dangerous, but I can protect you" to "we have an opportunity to make the country and the world a wonderful place to live." We need to see someone with ideas about how that can be done. And we need candidates who have a positive vision about America that can inspire people about leftist politics again. (Sounds familiar, I hope.)

For those of you who saw Nader as a real progressive solution, this is actually your candidate. Nader's message was incomplete and mostly angry and aggressive (hey, that's Nader's mode, and it's served America well). But Kucinich is someone who actually has a large, progressive vision. It's time for a progressive candidate to emerge, and it's time for progressives to support him. Kucinich only has $180,000 and is a long, long shot. But if we can give him support, he might at least make it onto the national stage and cause people to discuss his vision of the future. Imagine that--the debate turning from whether we should have invaded Iraq to whether or not the Department of Peace is the best way to promote cooperation and mutual respect.

If you want to hear those kinds of discussions, Kucinich is the candidate to support.

posted by Jeff | 10:05 AM |
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