Why is Kucinich Still in the Race?

by LANCE SELFA

Every time we publish a story that mentions a criticism of U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, we get dozens of letters complaining that we are giving Kucinich short shrift. No doubt this column won’t be any different.

This tells us that Kucinich has a loyal group of supporters who believe that it’s important to argue for their candidate in left-wing forums. It would be hard to conceive of anyone having the same amount of devotion to presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry.

Nevertheless, it’s important to ask just what Kucinich is up to today–and what he’s asking his supporters to do–long after Kerry has sewn up the Democratic nomination. He insists that he will stay in the race until the Democratic convention in July to fight for progressive policy planks in the Democratic platform.

As he put it in an April 14 appeal for funds on his campaign Web site: "Help keep alive the debate about Iraq. Help keep alive the hopes of people for a single-payer, national health care system. Help keep alive workers’ rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles and trade agreements. Help keep alive the efforts to repeal the PATRIOT Act. Help keep alive the progressive movement inside the Democratic Party."

While this succinctly summarizes Kucinich’s reason for staying in the race, it also highlights the biggest problem with his campaign. If his candidacy is necessary to "keep alive" all of these progressive goals, what does that say about the organization–the Democratic Party–that is trying to kill them?

It should underline the essence of the Democratic Party–a bosses’ party that occasionally (and less frequently) uses populist rhetoric to get enough workers, women and racial minorities to vote for it to help it win elections.

Its convention doesn’t really debate issues, and its platform isn’t worth the recycled paper it’s printed on. While it depends on workers’ votes to get into office, it depends on–and caters to–their bosses.

In his response to Bush’s April 13 press conference, Kucinich asked, "Given the president’s unhesitating willingness to send more and more of our young men and women to a war that was launched on lies and exaggerations, how long will it be before he resorts to a reinstatement of the draft to feed the demands of a thoroughly flawed and totally failed foreign policy?"

He could substitute "Kerry" for "the president" and he would still have an accurate statement. In fact, with Kerry and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton calling for 40,000 more troops to be sent to Iraq, while Bush orders "only" 20,000, Bush would seem to be the "lesser evil" on this question!

Yet Kucinich has made it quite clear that he has no intention of leaving the Democratic Party over this or any other questions. He said, "The Democratic Party created third parties by running to the middle. What I’m trying to do is to go back to the big tent so that everyone who felt alienated could come back through my candidacy."

Come November, Kucinich will face pressure to endorse and campaign for a candidate who is "running to the middle." Kucinich campaigns against the USA PATRIOT Act, yet he will urge his supporters to work to elect a man who voted for it. Likewise with a host of other issues, from the No Child Left Behind Act to the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately, Kucinich is going to tell his supporters that the only responsible thing to do in November is to elect a man who stands closer to Bush on these issues than he does to them. That’s the ultimate tragedy of reducing elections to "anybody but Bush" or a choice of the "lesser evil."

No doubt the vast majority of Kucinich’s rank-and-file supporters want to see a real political alternative. That’s why they should build that alternative outside the Democratic Party, an organization one of whose main purposes is to assure that such an alternative never develops.

LANCE SELFA writes for the Socialist Worker.

 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire