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American Politics, 2007

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I realize that my life offers stark contrasts -- as the 18-year-old "practical idealist" presidential candidate in 1984, I was an upstart politico from Generation X -- literally the first politician of my generation. I later was founder of the China Support Network, a 1989 creation to allow public response to the Tiananmen Square massacre. That gave me another reason for public advocacy.

Was I "the little guy" in 1984? Yes. Starting at age 17, I gave new meaning to the term "minor candidate." I acknowledge my roots as a figure who was very diminutive in stature. I remember that as the teenage candidate, about half the people I spoke with said, "that's great"; but, the other half were turned off and dismissed me many times, saying "You're too young to be President!" It is true that the Constitution wants Presidents to be 35 years old; and, it is true that the 20th Amendment offers an untested loophole, suggesting that the Congress can designate an acting President when a President-elect and Vice President-elect "do not qualify." In other words, critics and I both had a point. There are still those who would like to snort derisively, but I now have many years as a former presidential candidate.

More has come under my belt. Some know me as a thinker. Some know me as a software developer, or as a fan of NASA, Star Trek, and Star Wars. But to the degree that I am at all well known, I should foremost be known as a "practical idealist." It's a brand name of politics, hatched by yours truly when I was that teen candidate. (It was the first application of "practical idealism" to name a platform in presidential politics.) That permits me to say that "This country has heard from me before!" --I am one who can wag his finger and say, "America, I told you so." You won't be blaming me for your political problems, because I offered you a better way. I described practical idealism as "better ideas, for a better future." --On energy, I favored two new forms of energy (satellite solar and hydrogen), both of which are emission free. If we had started in 1985 with such an energy program, we would now be 23 years down the road to energy independence in a way that is environment friendly. The price of gasoline would be irrelevant. Somebody ought to slap America silly, and maybe I'm just the man to do it. America, I told you so.

In 1984, I thundered, "The budget must be balanced, and taxes must be fair!" America, whether the issue is energy, spending, or taxes, you have had 23 years and you have made no progress down the road which you still need to take. There is another issue where I am out in front -- the China issue. In 1989, we saw troops and tanks and guns of the Chinese army mow down innocent protestors -- the unarmed populace -- in Tiananmen Square. The world witnessed evil, and where was George? America has since then given 18+ years of increasingly profitable good relations to Communist China. The trade deficit -- profit to China -- has ballooned from a couple of billion dollars up to now near a quarter of a trillion: an obscene amount of reward to communists, dictators, tyrants, and thugs.

Every year of this communist appeasement has been a reward for bad behavior. (And, it has cost American jobs; raised the price of gasoline; and built up a nuclear-armed, communist superpower.) I could write that "we gave China a pass on Tiananmen Square," but that's not accurate. Who is "we"? I didn't give China a pass; rather instead, I started the China Support Network to work with Chinese dissidents towards the ultimate freedom, human rights, and democratic government to which China needs to move. It was actually true that 79% of the American people were against the China trade deal when it went through. That's Americans, 4-to-1 against China trade, while a mere 20% of the people were buying into the false advertising and Washington's promises of sugar plums that were to follow from that very bad deal, in which America got taken and Communists could laugh all the way to the bank. And so, "we" didn't give China a pass. Rather instead, it was three corrupt Presidents who gave China a pass -- George Bush Senior; Bill Clinton; and George W. Bush. So. America, I told you so. If you accept my reasoning above, then I have been right on energy, spending, taxes, and China.

I also opposed the Yucca Mountain repository for nuclear waste --wherein, politicians embraced a nutty plan to truck and trundle extremely hazardous nuclear waste (mobile Chernobyl) directly through your city--and perhaps your neighborhood--on its way to Yucca Mountain. Oh, and what if I'm right on another point from above? --I mentioned "three corrupt Presidents." Yes, in fact -- in my opinion, America has not been well served by all three of the Presidents who have now followed Ronald Reagan, whom I opposed when I was the 18-year-old candidate for President. They have rewarded Maoism; ignored genocide; and created a new nuclear-armed, communist superpower. All the while, they made no progress on energy, spending, and taxes -- the three early issues of practical idealism as I raised in 1984. At some point during his current administration, George Bush spoke of hydrogen cars, and that was the very first time that I heard a President take up anything from my platform of practical idealism.

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In 1992, I told Americans to vote for Jerry Brown -- the former California Governor who was then running for President. (And, in my home state of Connecticut, they listened to me -- Brown won the Connecticut primary.) In 2004, the candidate who was closest to practical idealism was Congressman Richard Gephardt, although I was also impressed with Dennis Kucinich. Now you're in a pickle. In the 2008 election, there's no John Kusumi to vote for. There's no Jerry Brown. There's no Dick Gephardt.

The man who is the closest to my politics this time around is Dennis Kucinich. He's older now, but back in the day he was the boy wonder of politics. He got in there young, and he tenaciously stuck to his principles. I think it's a matter of judgment. Kucinich breezes past the other candidates, and even I must take my hat off to him. I was in support of the Iraq war at the start of it. That's where I went wrong. I am no longer the kid who's "always right." While I don't miss Saddam Hussein, I have come to see this war as an enormous blunder. Dennis Kucinich was against it at the start. He has been consistent, and voted against all war funding. He is for an immediate end of this war, and I have come around in my positioning -- I now agree with Kucinich. (But, I started out in a "Joe Lieberman-esque" position about the war, and I have come to regret my early support of it.)

Did I say that Kucinich breezes past the other candidates? He just breezed past me! I still like my 1984 positioning, and my China positioning, and my Yucca Mountain positioning. But on the Iraq war, my hat is off to Dennis Kucinich. Perhaps it is hard for me to praise someone else's judgment, when I have just admitted that I was wrong on the war -- admitted to bad judgment on my own part. (I am crestfallen. But, I stand by my other positioning, seen at YouTube.com/JohnPKusumi.)

 So to close my article here, let me pipe down and instead quote from Kucinich himself. In a recent debate, I found this line to be very profound-- "The president of the United States is called upon to make the right decision at the right time. And you've seen here tonight -- people who voted for the war [and] voted to fund the war -- now they have a different position; people voted for the PATRIOT Act -- now they have a different position; people voted for China trade -- now they have a different position; people who voted for Yucca Mountain -- now they have a different position. Just imagine what it will be like to have a President of the United States who's right the first time. (applause) Just imagine!"

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www.chinasupport.net

The author was once the 18-year-old candidate for U.S. President ('84) and later the founder of the China Support Network, post-Tiananmen Square.

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