Dennis Kucinich has long been known as the conscience of the U.S. Congress and is a hero for many on the left.
Vehemently opposed to the Iraq invasion, continually pressing for protection of labor rights and for serious action on climate change, against corporate trade agreements, staunchly supporting single payer health care, Dennis has championed the entire progressive agenda as it has, again and again, piece by piece, gone down to defeat.
There is a name, for someone who fights good fights, is always on the right side of a losing issue, is always ready hold the little guy’s hand when he gets garrotted by multinational conglomerates.
The word for such a excellent fellow is “loser.”
Dennis, like us, is a loser.
But unlike some of us, Dennis is also a good loser.
Even when he is beaten with a stacked deck, when he is forced from the ring by a well placed sucker punch, Dennis can be counted on to decorously withdraw leaving no question that we in the loyal opposition “believe deeply in this noble experiment which we call American Democracy” and in “our vigorous two party system of representative government.”
This is why, as we should remember from 2004, not a word of protest was heard from Dennis when he was prevented by party insiders from addressing the Democratic convention despite his being entitled, due to his strong showing in several primaries, to do just that. Nor was there a peep from Dennis when anti-war signs were pried from the hands of Kucinich delegates by party hacks or when those protesting the pro-war nominee were confined to free speech zones on the periphery of the convention site, in blatant violation of the first amendment.
Nor was Dennis anywhere to be found in the months prior to the 2004 election as the body count mounted in Iraq. What was, in the year before, an active and aggressive peace movement was kept under lockdown least its visibility endanger the Democrat ticket. It has never recovered and remains comatose.
In 2008, the tragedy was replayed as farce, with Dennis barely breaking into the low single digits. Rather than make trouble by endorsing the long shot candidacy of Edwards, Dennis threw his support behind a candidate endorsing pre-emptive strikes on Pakistan, who is calling for 92,000 new troops, explicitly rejects single payer health care, and is a prime mover behind environmentally suicidal subsidies for biofuel and clean coal.
And now we have the spectacle of Dennis pleading for our support against a primary challenge sponsored by the party leadership.
It appears that he can be cut loose since his services will not be needed due to the powerful sedative the Obama campaign and presidency is likely to administer to the left for the forseeable future.
This is the thanks Dennis gets for his services in confining his potentially troublesome supporters with the DP prison, for never issuing a discouraging word about whatever corporate shill ends up striding up to the podium to accept his party’s nomination while the party sinks the further into the unreachable swamp of neoliberalism.
But ironically, for those of us who support Dennis, and for Dennis himself, his being discarded like a used kleenex, like Cynthia Mckinney before him, might be the best news we receive this electoral season.
It will be if Dennis, and others like him, finally get the message that the only hope for the agenda which he has staked his career on is outside the gated community which the Democratic Party has become.
So for those considering contributing to Dennis, the place to contribute should be in an account to support a third party run following his defeat in the primary.
Another possibility, if Dennis has recovered from the shock of his defeat sufficiently, perhaps we can look forward to supporting a Kucinich/Mckinney Green Party ticket in 2008 and with it the prospect of a 5% showing which will qualify them for federal campaign financing.
In any case, let’s hope this serves as a wake up call to Dennis and his supporters where his friends really are.
JOHN HALLE teaches music theory at the Bard College Conservancy. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org