March 14, 2004

Dennis Kucinich and the IL Primary

Dennis Kucinich came to Galesburg today, and spoke at 11:00. I went to go see him. (Which meant I went to 7:30 Mass and met a whole new bunch of people, but that's a separate story.) I have to say, the other time I heard him speak (at the Harkin Steak Fry) must've just been an off day, because he was a great speaker today.

He talked about a lot of things, but a lot of them were tied together with the idea of a basic attitude change: right now, we spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the Department of Defense---which is really just a War Department---and blow off all the other things that we as a society should try to promote. He speaks of a Department of Peace; it would support and fund programs that try to reduce conflict, and remove the root causes of conflict. What if we, as a society, tried to unlearn all of those habits of thought that lead ultimately to domestic abuse and child abuse? What if we as a society stopped letting the corporations push through legislation whose sole purpose is keeping labour cheap?

He gave a great analogy: not so long ago in this country, most families didn't lock their houses, pretty much ever. Nowadays, we mostly do, and that's fine. But what if someone were to not just lock their door, but put in a big steel outer door, and a huge electrified fence, and get guard dogs, and pile sandbags up behind all the windows? We, their neighbours, would freak out, even if they claimed it was only to defend themselves. But that's exactly how the rest of the world sees the US.

Still, a lot of his solutions seem too extreme. NAFTA's a problem, certainly---and so, he says, we should just cancel it. The bigwigs have been given their chance to "fix it", that didn't work, so *bam* we should just get rid of it... I dunno about that. Return Social Security retirement age to 65? Nice in an ideal world, but not at all realistic. Indexing the age to slowly increase---even if it goes up more slowly than life expectancies---is a much better plan.

I continue to support Dean's platform over Kucinich's for the same reasons I ever did---it goes in the same direction, but is a lot more practical. I worry that the Dem leadership will see the folks who vote for Kucinich as not understanding reality or something like that, and therefore ignoring their voices entirely, whereas the Dean folks, while perhaps a bit left of party-centre, are within reach and therefore worth throwing a few bones to.

On the other hand, given the disenfranchisement of Illinois voters in the primary, any vote we make is more of a statement than anything else---it's been made abundantly clear that the Democratic Party is not interested in the opinions of Illinoisans when it comes to who should get the nomination, so perhaps we should use our vote for something else. Following that reasoning, it makes a little more sense (or is at least seems less nonsensical) to vote for an extreme candidate who is leaning in the right direction, just to demonstrate how strongly you feel that the party needs to move in that direction, even if you wouldn't want that candidate to win the Presidency.

In the end, I'll probably still end up voting for Dean on Tuesday, but either way, I'll come out of the booth regretting that I couldn't vote for both of them. What certainly seems true, though, is that for all those of you out there who abandoned a preferred candidate---be it Dean or Kucinich, or Edwards, or one of the others---due to "electability" or somesuch, you really might as well go back to your original choice. If there is an up-side to this whole stupid drawn-out primary process, it's that we don't have to worry about actually selecting the nominee. We can just make our opinions known; and we should.

(And don't you dare think of skipping the primary just because the presidential nomination's been decided. Whatever your political inclination, there is a dead-heat race for the nomination for US Senator from Illinois, and if you're of voting age and live in Illinois it's really your civic duty to go out and vote for the man or woman who you think will do the best job. It could end up being even more important than the Presidential contest---we're looking at a possible 50-49 split in the Senate, and which side has the 50 makes a huge difference.)

Illustration of argument in the alternative:

  1. I never met the victim.
  2. If I did meet her, I certainly didn't kill her.
  3. If the jury is actually fooled by the prosecution, and thinks I killed her, then you have to understand it was self-defense.
  4. Also, I'm completely batshit insane.

--Mike Peil

Posted by blahedo at 10:49pm on 14 Mar 2004
Comments
Thanks for the report on the Kucinich speech. I wanted to go but decided church should win out. Then I got in way late from the dinner the trustees threw for our big donors and slept through church, too. ;-) Posted by Chris at 12:22pm on 15 Mar 2004
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