approaches and a young politician's fancy turns to thoughts of the 2008
presidential campaign. Among the announced candidates is antiwar favorite
I have nothing against Kucinich. He's one of
the most progressive Congresspeople and a genuinely decent, honest person
who seems to have no trace of the personal corruption so endemic to
politicians. Overall, his values and political stances seem highly
compatible with the transformative left agenda that so many believe in
I disagree with him on some issues. On trade, I want a fair international
order with binding rules that apply to everybody -- rules that embody values
very different from those in the WTO -- while Kucinich wants an
essentially anarchic world order where the United States strong-arms
other countries through
bilateral trade pacts. A position he shares with George W. Bush -- back
when Bush had positions on issues other than "freedom."
To be fair, Bush wants to impose better conditions for U.S. corporations and
for militaristic U.S. imperialism on weaker countries, whereas Kucinich
merely wants to impose "social clauses" that are protectionist in effect --
which is, of course, the kind of "humanitarian imperialism" that Kucinich
resolutely opposes in the military sphere. He also doesn't seem to
understand that this is impossible -- the United States, beholden as it is
to corporate interests and to its privileged position in the world order,
cannot possibly be in the vanguard on this issue. Look to Venezuela, the
G21, Mercosur, anywhere except the United States.
I also task him for not voting against the absurd congressional resolution
blindly supporting Israel's Lebanon war, whose avowed target was the
civilian political supporters of Hizbullah -- he voted "present," a cowardly
act for someone who wants to be a leader of the left.
Though these are important defects, Kucinich is in general very good, and,
based solely on the issues, worthy of support.
Even so, if you are considering supporting him, I want to caution you.
Given the conservative-nationalistic populist refoundation of the Democratic
Party, most likely Kucinich will stand out as the only even slightly
anti-militarist and anti-imperialist Democratic candidate. Short of a run by
Nader, Bill Moyers, or someone like that, he'll probably also be the only
worthy candidate with any public recognition.
Still, despite numerous fatuous proclamations of his, there's absolutely no
way he will win or even make a respectable showing, and so one must consider
what is to be gained from supporting him.
Last time, his campaign spent $11 million -- $11 million of activist money
poured down a rat-hole, in my opinion, along with a great deal of time,
effort, and enthusiasm.
His campaign was intellectually deficient on foreign policy, a crippling
fault. His talks were long on platitudes about peace, but short on the
specifics about real issues that might have spread the left message beyond
the choir. So ignorant was he regarding the US-backed coup against Aristide
that, in a televised debate, he said what the U.S. was doing was good, but
it needed to do more -- it was left to John Kerry, oddly, to expose the
extent of the Bush administration's animus toward Aristide.
Although Kucinich's "position" on Iraq was fine, he had very little to say
about it and avoided the issue in favor of expansive visions on social
programs that couldn't possibly make any difference in a political campaign
defined by Iraq.
What really stood out, though, was his behavior at the Democratic
Convention. Although he had maintained his candidacy in order to hang onto
his delegates, loyalty to the Party trumped the antiwar cause and he
capitulated to the militarism of the Democratic leadership, instructing his
delegates to back down on the question of an antiwar plank in the Democratic
platform -- even though an estimated 95% of all delegates to the convention
Even though he did speak there, he went with the flow and talked about Kerry
the great war hero.
Not a mention of the still-fresh Abu Ghraib/torture scandal, alluded to
only by Jimmy Carter and Jesse Jackson
Last but hardly least, he did nothing to help build self-sustaining left
organizations that could continue to exert influence after the campaign was
Those of you who want to work for Kucinich don't need to rule it out right
away. But make him accountable. He's not going to win and the meaning or
lack thereof of his campaign is going to be in relation to the antiwar
movement. He needs to know if he runs again he's working for us.
is publisher of the weblog
with regularly updated commentary on U.S. foreign policy, the occupation
of Iraq, and the state of the American Empire. He has been to occupied
Iraq twice, and was in Fallujah during the siege in April 2004. His most
recent book is
Full Spectrum Dominance: U.S. Power in Iraq and Beyond.
He can be reached at:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to Sam Husseini.
The 1st Peace
Candidate of the '08 Presidential Election, Dennis Kucinich by Kevin
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