by Josh Frank
February 21, 2003
Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich on Monday (Februrary 17th) tossed his hat in the ring, announcing his bid to seek the Democratic nomination for President in ‘04. Co-chair of the Progressive Caucus, Kucinich has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration’s reactions to September 11th, the dismantling of our civil liberties under the USA Patriot Act, and the pending attack on Iraq.
Rep. Kucinich has also been a strong voice against Free Trade, opposing Fast Track legislation in 1997 and ’98, as well as 2002. His support among unions and environmentalists are strong in his Cleveland Ohio district, and his environmental voting record is credible, garnering praise from Public Citizen and the League of Conservation Voters, among others. His food labeling efforts are one of a kind as well-- even Ralph Nader has spoken highly of Dennis.
For progressives that have followed Kucinich over the years, he has been on the better side of most issues pertinent to our causes, but Dennis surely isn’t perfect. The lingering pro-life stance Dennis has taken in the past yields much criticism from feminist organizations and other pro-choice advocates. His opposition to partial birth abortions and his vote against Medicaid funding for the procedure have stirred quite a few controversies.
The likelihood he will be able to overcome his choice record is grim, but we’ll see if the anti-war movement can get behind him enough to stir the Dems in these early primary days.
But come election time, if nominated, Kucinich may not be the only peace candidate in the hunt. Ralph Nader and Medea Benjamin of Global Exchange have been rumored to be seeking the Green Party’s nomination- and both would bring hefty anti-war stances. Right swinging Reform Party Patrick Buchanan is also anti-war, but few progressives would label Pat pro-peace. The political climate may be quite different during election season, especially if the Iraq ordeal gets messy. If Kucinich can hurdle his anti-choice record, Greens, and past Nader supporters will surely be tested as to whom they should support.
Iraq is almost a go, mid-March may be Bush’s breaking point, a couple weeks after the US and Britain propose their new Resolution to the UN, authorizing their nasty attack on Baghdad. Getting behind Kucinich now is essential, and may help his grim chances of becoming a viable candidate for the Dem’s nomination. Putting our Party affiliations aside, anti-war voters should support the only true current anti-war candidate in the race, and its Dennis.
For those skeptical pro-choicers I say this-- Kucinich is unlikely to nominate or attempt to dismantle current “right to choose” laws that are now in place. He is also likely to nominate liberal justices if he were to be President- probably pro-choice judges. Also feminists should not forget the great impact our free-trade agreements have on poor working women all over the globe- these are feminist issues too, ones Kucinich sides with us on.
But the real debate among those that oppose attacking Iraq is- who in Washington can we get on our side? Who among the decision makers can we get on our side? Right now Dennis Kucinich is our best hope for ‘04. If he fails to get the Democratic nomination, like many expect, then that’s when we should throw our energy behind the next candidate with strong anti-war-anti-Dubya fervor. No other Dems got it like Kucinich - and Nader ain’t runnin yet. It may change, but right now he’s all we got.
Visit Dennis’s site - even if you aren’t registered Dem - you can still support
Josh Frank is
a writer living in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org