On Native Ground
KUCINICH SHOULD STAY IN THE RACE
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- An AOL Website called presidentialmatch.com offers voters an interesting compatibility test.
The test asks a series of questions regarding your opinions on various issues ranging from Iraq to gay marriage. At the end, your responses are tallied and are compared with the candidates' views so you can find the one that most closely shares your views.
When I did the questionnaire a few weeks ago, Dennis Kucinich got a perfect 100 percent score. Al Sharpton was second and Howard Dean was third, both with scores in the low 90s.
The result didn't surprise me. Kucinich was the guy I supported in my heart, while my head went for Dean.
Unfortunately, the guy I initially supported because I thought he had a better chance of winning was crushed by the Democratic Party establishment and the media. So, in the Vermont primary on March 2, I voted for Kucinich.
The remnants of the Dean campaign in Vermont were pushing hard to try to win this primary. As far as I was concerned, why would I waste my vote on a candidate who dropped out of the race?
Kucinich isn't dropping out. He wants to stay in to make sure that liberal voters have a choice in what's left of the primary season. But I think he's pressing on mainly to spite all the media folks who've mostly ignored his campaign except for the few times he has popped up on national tv to get berated as a hopeless loser.
But if you think as I do that U.S. troops should be immediately withdrawn from Iraq, that there is no excuse why Americans don't have universal health care, that NAFTA and other trade agreements need to be ripped up and rewritten to protect workers and the environment, and that there should be an all-out effort to wean the American economy off fossil fuels - Kucinich is the candidate you should support.
Yes, I know that Sen. John Kerry - for better or worse - is going to be the Democrats' nominee. But there still are another dozen or so primaries remaining. While the chances of Kucinich winning any of them are slim, a respectable showing would send a message to Kerry and the timid centrists who think Kerry is "electable."
That Ralph Nader drew 6 percent in the Associated Press' first presidential poll after "Super Tuesday" should tell Democrats something. There are many people who, much as they hate President Bush, aren't automatically going to vote for Kerry. They see Kerry and don't want to hold their noses to vote for a slightly less worse version of Bush.
Kucinich voted against invading Iraq. He voted against the Patriot Act. He voted against the Bush tax cuts. He stands as the almost total opposite of Kerry on almost every issue.
To me, voting for Kucinich in the Vermont Primary was my way of letting the party know that I wanted a choice, and not an echo. Unfortunately, not many people joined me.
I've said this before, and I'll keep saying it until November. I want a Democratic Party that offers something more than just not having President Bush at the top of the ticket. I want a party that can wean itself off the corporate special interests and reconnect with its traditional constituencies. I want a party that's not afraid to think big and is ready to retire the word "triangulation" from its lexicon. And most of all, I want a party that's willing to fight.
Instead of giving progressives an excuse to vote for Nader, the Democrats need to listen to Kucinich and his ideas and incorporate them into the party's platform.
Some of it has happened already. Kucinich's vigorous opposition to the WTO and NAFTA helped get the rest of the Democratic field talking about fair trade. Being one of the early opponents of Bush's "war on terror" gave some room for Dean and Kerry and John Edwards to address the issue.
Broadening the political debate to include ideas such as nuclear disarmament, energy independence and a more equitable economic system will help, not hurt, the Democrats.
That's why I voted for Kucinich and that's why I ask anyone reading this in states that have yet to hold their primaries to do likewise. It's our best shot at making sure that progressive ideas become part of the campaign debate.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.