Our featured Presidential candidate for today is Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich.
You know, the liberals I have personally known over the last few years must be the left of the left. Whenever I ask them, “Who is your choice for President?,” their response is Dennis Kucinich. Their reason is that he appears to be more serious about the issues to which most Democrats give lip service. One liberal I knew liked Kucinich’s firm stance on alternative energy. Others appreciated his call to cut funding for the war and impeach Bush/Cheney.
As I read about him on various sites, I came to admire his courage, if that’s what you want to call it. He was the the son of a truck driver and the eldest of seven children. His responsibility was to seek affordable apartments for his family, which sometimes had to live out of its car. I wonder how seven children fit into one automobile, but perhaps they weren’t all born yet. As mayor, he made some controversial decisions. He fired Cleveland’s police chief and had to wear a bullet-proof vest as a consequence. And he refused to sell the city’s public electric company, Municipal Light, to a private competitor, CEI. Because many bankers were invested in CEI, they did not roll over the city’s debt because of Kucinich’s opposition to selling. The city went bankrupt as a result, but analysts argue that Cleveland consumers saved money on their electric bills.
As an aside, this whole incident with Muny Light and CEI got me thinking about privatization. One big argument for having the private sector take care of things is competition. For supporters of privatization, private companies can perform more efficiently and at a lower cost than a government monopoly because people can always take their business elsewhere. But selling a government monopoly to a private monopoly does not encourage competition. I wonder if there is a better way to privatize, such as the government simply getting out of the way. I’m also not sure to what extent competition would work with power companies. Everywhere I’ve lived, there is only one power company (Public Service, Duke Energy, etc.). Is there a reason for that? Could there be more than one power company in a city, beaming electricity into our homes as competing cable companies send cable?
But back to Kucinich. What some would call courage, others would call foolhardiness. Plunging the city into bankruptcy to make a stand against big business? Or, in modern times, actually wanting to eliminate financial support for our troops in Iraq? What would happen to the troops if Congress did that? And then there was his veto of tax abatements as mayor of Cleveland. What happened to Cleveland’s economy as a result? I mean, businesses move into a city because of tax abatements. The guy is principled, but he doesn’t seem too pragmatic.
If only his tough brinksmanship extended to foreign affairs. In the War on Terror, it really does not, for he seems to be naive about the presence of people in the world who hate the United States. To his credit, however, he has maintained a tough stance on Communist countries. He voted to deter foreign arms transfers to China and to keep the Cuba travel ban until political prisoners were released. I admire his concern about human rights, even though the long American embargo on Cuba hasn’t really ended Castro’s repression.
Also, while I said he is principled, there is one issue on which he has compromised significantly: abortion. I was surprised to find that he once had a pro-life record that would rival that of many Republicans. Here is one web site’s description: “He voted to criminalize partial birth abortions, to deny American servicewoman the right even to pay for their own abortions overseas, to prevent Washington, D.C. from funding abortions for poor women with nonfederal dollars, against research on RU-486, even against health coverage of basic contraception for federal employees. In 1996 he told Planned Parenthood that he did not support the substance of Roe v. Wade. He received a a 95 percent position rating from the National Right to Life Committee, versus 10 percent from Planned Parenthood and 0 percent from NARAL.” Now, he blabs about “a woman’s right to choose.” How sad!
Was his flip-flop political? Maybe, but that would assume that he thinks he has an actual shot at the nomination. Surely he knows that is not the case! Perhaps he wants to advance in the Democratic party in other ways, or build a liberal record for a future and more successful Presidential run.
My sources for this post were wikipedia (which had documented articles), Dennis Kucinich on the Issues, and the link I used above for the quote on abortion. Have a nice day!