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Dennis Kucinich and the Question

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 Dennis Kucinich and the Question
  By William Rivers Pitt
  

OpEdNews.Com

Cuz take away our Playstations
And we are a third world nation
Under the thumb of some blue blood royal son
Who stole the Oval Office and that phony election
I mean
It don't take a weatherman
To look around and see the weather
Jeb said he'd deliver Florida, folks
And boy did he ever ...

And we hold these truths to be self evident
#1: George W. Bush is not President
#2: America is not a true democracy
#3: the media is not fooling me
Cuz I am a poem heeding hyper-distillation
I've got no room for a lie so verbose
I'm looking out over my whole human family
And I'm raising my glass in a toast ...

-      Ani DiFranco, "Self-Evident "

  The three most powerful letters in American politics are 'FDR. ' Franklin Roosevelt unleashed a political revolution so powerful and complete that it required the incredible extremism of the Bush administration to bring it to heel. That is not to say the revolution wasn 't flagging before George took the Oval Office chair. Democratic Presidents and Presidential hopefuls have been running on Roosevelt rhetoric since the titan died in his fourth term, but the facts on the ground are clear. The country has been steadily retreating from the legacy of FDR for decades.

  Enter Dennis Kucinich, Democratic congressman from Ohio, former Mayor of Cleveland, and candidate for President in 2004. There is not a single polling indicator that puts him above ten percent support at this point, and he managed only a 1% showing in the Iowa caucuses. Pragmatism dictates that he is merely tilting at windmills, but a closer look reveals something far different in play.

  I spent Friday to Sunday on the eve of the Iowa caucuses in a giant red van with the Kucinich campaign as he stumped in a dozen cities all across the state. In speech after speech, Dennis Kucinich railed against the sorry lot of the American worker, the pale shadow that is health care in this country, the deteriorating state of the environment, and the war in Iraq. These were themes that, by and large, were echoed by virtually every other candidate running in the state. The difference, however, is that Kucinich owned a moral authority and clarity of policy on these matters that most of the other candidates would love to call their own. He is untainted by corporate funding, and has practiced what he preaches for the duration of his career. The other candidates, each one, are excellent individuals in their own right. But there is just something extra happening with Dennis.

  He is the only candidate in this race hitting hard against NAFTA and the WTO. He is the only candidate promising, with details attached, to establish universal single-payer health care for everyone in America. He is the only candidate attacking the deranged nature of the bloated Pentagon budget, and has sworn an oath to clean that house to pay for his social programs. Drawing on the lessons of Vietnam, a conflict which dragged on because we were too proud to leave when we should have, he has crafted a detailed plan to get our troops home within 90 days. This, like the other policies, sets him apart. Through it all is a cry for the worker, the forgotten American worker, and the family, and the soul of the nation entire.

  The ghost of FDR had come to corn country.

  Welcome to Iowa

  It was a bit like going back in time. The red van hummed and bounced down the highway from Des Moines to Dubuque on a morning when the sun never showed its face. A white fog hung low over the rolling hills, and whitewashed barns and farmhouses loomed out of the mist like an echo of an agrarian wonderland. The fields of corn and soy had been reaped, and the black soil waited like a postcard for spring and seeds and sunlight.

  The pastoral image outside the window belied some hard facts that speak to larger issues which demand attention in the coming election. In 1900, the topsoil in Iowa was several feet deep, made up of dirt so rich in nutrients that you could eat it by the fistful and be nourished. In the last several years, industrial farming has stripped that topsoil down to a mere 14 inches. The earth that remains is saturated with chemical fertilizers that have bled into the water table, poisoning it.

  100 years ago, agriculture in Iowa was dominated by family farmers. Each farm raised its own portion of crops and kept a few head of cattle. Those cattle were fed whatever was grown on the land. It was a perfect machine, an agrarian society that hummed along in a timeless harmony. Then came the 1980s, and a new generation of farmers graduated from agricultural colleges. Their heads were filled with a desire to purchase the shiny new farming machines pitched to them in classrooms by corporate agribusinesses. Farms that had been in families for three generations or more took on hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt as these new farmers bought equipment they didn 't need. The debt held, however, because the agrarian harmony paid enough dividends to keep the banks at bay.

  In the 1980s, however, corporate agribusinesses convinced those banks to call in those debts, and thousands of farms crashed. There were about two suicides a month for a long period, as farmers who felt they had failed their families killed themselves out of rage and shame and despair. The farms went up for sale, and were purchased at fire-sale prices by corporations like ADM.

  Today, the cattle and crop industries in Iowa are owned by massive agribusinesses which keep thousands of head in tight quarters. The waste created by this is extraordinary, and goes straight into the ground. Likewise, massive industrial pig farms create untold thousands of gallons of pig manure which are stored in huge 'lagoons. ' No material crafted by human ingenuity can contain this caustic filth, and so these lagoons breach their containers and further contaminate the water table. The stench from these lagoons is so extreme that houses a mile downwind become covered in flies.

  In five years, the aquifer underneath the state will be completely polluted by dung and chemicals. The topsoil, denuded by factory farming, will continue to disappear, and continue to require chemical fertilizers to bring forth the crops. The introduction of genetically modified crops to the landscape, meanwhile, will change the ecosystem in ways we do not even begin to understand.

  Recently, America endured its first Mad Cow scare. We were told that everything was under control, but this was a fantastic lie. Mad Cow is transferred two ways: In the manure or in the feed, two conduits that are demonstrably connected. Factory cattle farms in Iowa feed their animals an incredibly dangerous mixture. A massive turkey farm north of Des Moines composts the corpses of dead turkeys, mixed with the sawdust bedding they live in. The product of this is sold to the factory farms, which mix it with rotten candy bars purchased from candy manufacturers.

  Finally, the brew is spiced with the dross created in the process of cattle slaughter: Blood and offal sluiced through grates when the animals are killed. Into this mixture goes neurological material from slaughtered cattle brains and spines and cattle feed is the final product. It is in the neurological parts of the cow that Mad Cow breeds. The animals eat this, and then defecate it by the ton in these massive factory yards, and all the other animals walk around in it. Because of the profoundly unhealthy manure-filled environment in which these cattle are kept, the feed is heavily spiced with antibiotics to keep them from dropping dead because of the diseases they stand in all day long. Those antibiotics translate into humans, making us more susceptible in the long run to bacteria.

  This is a ticking time bomb.

  If you think this problem is limited to Iowa, you are dead wrong. David, the man driving the van, described all of this to me in the context of Iowa, and in the context of the farm his grandfather owned there many years ago, but it is a national crisis. When Dennis Kucinich went on later that weekend to discuss farm policy, the control of genetically-modified crops, and a process of moving away from corporate concentrations of power in agriculture, it wasn 't just pandering to the farm voters.

  The fog that morning offered only a postcard. The problems that were hidden the wreckage of the environment, the dominance of corporations, the danger of a poisoned food source await us all.

  Will you sign my aura?

  There is an assumed caricature of the typical Kucinich supporter that has worked its way into the public consciousness. People who support Kucinich are moonbeamers who commune with crystals, and who are fifth-level vegans who only eat food that doesn 't cast a shadow. I was fully expecting to meet crowds of people asking Kucinich if he would sign their auras. The reality, I quickly saw, was far different.

  Kucinich stopped at coffee houses, at town halls, at art galleries, and was met each time by hundreds of people. Often, there was no room inside these places because of the crowds, and dozens of people were forced to wait outside in 18 degree temperatures and a bitter wind. They waited. And waited. And waited. And finally met the candidate. And left feeling supercharged.

  I met veterans, and union workers, and college kids, and grandmothers. Here and there were the occasional Grateful Dead tour refugees, but one can find these folk within virtually every campaign. These were very normal people, and they all loved Dennis Kucinich.

  The campaign van was a microcosm of the difference between perception and reality. The driver was David, a father from Iowa who had volunteered early and had risen to one of the top positions in the campaign. He wore a suit and tie, and sat at the helm of the operation with a calm hand and a quietly wry sense of humor. Kevin, another organizer, sat in the back lamenting the fact that he had not had a haircut in weeks. Yet his hair was short and neat. In the shotgun seat sat a security man carved out of Vermont stone whose heart was as big as a mountain. For that weekend, actress Mimi Kennedy from the show 'Dharma and Greg ' rode along. A more sincere, normal, warm person would be difficult to find anywhere.

  This was the infrastructure which surrounded Kucinich as we roared across the state. The cell phones and Blackberries were constantly beeping and humming as the operation rolled with the road. It was one of the most regular groups I 've ever seen. So much for the public perception.

  Dubuque

  The first stop on Saturday was a Democratic party gathering at the Grand River Center in Dubuque, a large, modern facility on the industrialized banks of the Mississippi River. Hundreds of people were in attendance. The event was supposed to be a three-way stump spot for Kerry, Edwards and Kucinich. Kerry, however, got marooned somewhere else in the state because of bad weather. John Edwards showed up in a huge oceanliner of a bus and hit the room to the sound of some orgiastic rock anthem.

  His supporters, the youngest of any candidate present, screamed and waved signs as Edwards took the stage. His speech was strong, vibrant and suffused with echoes of the vibe that so electrified the Clinton speeches of yore. His strong performance in the caucuses the following Monday came as no surprise after watching him work on Saturday. The endorsement from the Des Moines Register probably didn 't hurt, either.

  Kucinich came on next. It was clear that many in the crowd were not familiar with him. That was about to change.

   "I come from Cleveland, Ohio, " began Kucinich. "I 'm the oldest of seven children. My parents never owned a home, and as the family grew, we kept moving because we outgrew the apartments that we lived in. During the 1950s, there used to be ads in the newspapers that would say 'No Children ' or 'One Child Only. ' If you had a large family and didn 't own a home, you were out of luck. So our family kept moving from place to place. By the time I was 17 years old, we had lived in 21 different places, including a couple of cars. "

   "That experience, " he continued, "growing up in the city of Cleveland, and living in so many different neighborhoods, and moving from place to place, that experience informs greatly my passion for public service, and my reasons for running for President of the United States. I know that it matters to people to have a job, to have a living wage, to have decent health care, that their kids can go to decent schools, that they live in decent neighborhoods, that they have a roof over their heads. I understand this. I understand it because these are the kinds of concerns that my parents had to deal with when we were growing up. These are the kinds of concerns that many families have to deal with today. "

   "In this time of rising unemployment, " he said, "all the government will tell us is that the statistics indicate that things are looking a little bit better. The truth of the matter is that there are many people not even reflected in the unemployment numbers anymore, because they stopped looking for jobs, because there aren 't any jobs available. And that 's the truth. The truth is that so many American families have breadwinners who are working part-time because they can 't find full-time work. The truth is that people working both part-time and full-time are locked into low-paying jobs. The truth is that this country is letting working-class and middle-class citizens just slowly find their economic position deteriorating without any great cause in America to lift people up, to give people the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor. What is this government doing for all of our people? "

   "We see the priorities, " he said. "Tax cuts for the wealthy. $155 billion for a war we didn 't have to get into. A bloated Pentagon - half the discretionary spending in the federal budget goes to the Pentagon. Cuts in veterans benefits. Cuts in health care. Cuts in education. Cuts in housing. Cuts in jobs programs. This country is losing its connection with its people. My Presidency will be about reconnecting America with the practical aspirations of the American people. "

  By this time, the crowd had risen, somewhat surprised with itself, to its feet in approval several times. Dennis Kucinich? Rocking the house?

   "I want you, the taxpayers, to think about this, " said Kucinich after the applause had died down again. "If we 're in Iraq for a few years, the cost will be over a half a trillion dollars. That 's going to come out of our budget for housing, for education, for health care. Casualties are now over five hundred, and could go into the thousands. Why? When is enough enough? I say enough is enough right now, and that 's why we need to get the troops out, and that 's why I 'm ready to lead in that direction. "

   "All across the country, " he said, "we see the infrastructure of many states crumbling. Bridges, water systems, sewer systems, roads in disrepair. States don 't have the money to fix them, and local communities don 't have the money to fix them. I intend to take a page from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who in the 1930s recognized the need to rebuild America, recognized the need to put millions of people back to work, and have a new WPA program to repair our bridges and water systems and sewer systems. We will put Americans back to work, we will build a new infrastructure, we will build a new chance for America. I am running to lead the way on that. "

   "I am talking about a quest to ensure the economic stability of America, " he said. "In my campaign around this country, I have visited so many communities where I have seen plant gates locked, and have looked through those gates to see grass growing in parking lots. These are plants where they used to make steel, where they used to make textiles, where they used to make car parts and washing machines and bicycles. All around this country, we 've seen this same story of one manufacturing plant after another being closed. We are told that this is inevitable. "

   "We 've had three million manufacturing jobs lost, " he said, "since July of 2000. Three million. I explained earlier where I am coming from on this. I understand job loss. It is not just a statistic. It means a home that is threatened. It means someone in the family is not going to get the education they hoped for. It means the loss of health benefits. It means retirement benefits at risk. It means instability in a family. It could mean a family splitting up. Tremendous economic pressures are being put on so many American families today, and I 'll tell you one of the reasons. "

   "Ten years ago, " he said in a rising voice, "the United States passed agreements called NAFTA and the WTO which created conditions where global corporations are setting all the rules for trade. You know what it is about? You know what it is about. It is about cheap labor. Wherever they can drive down wages, they do it. Wherever they can get someone to do a job for less than nothing, that 's what they are looking for. They don 't care about child labor, prison labor, slave labor, they don 't care about crushing workers. What they care about is being able to make more and more of a profit. They don 't care if they close down a community. "

   "They don 't care if they crush small businesses, " he said, now in full roar. "They don 't care because they have the power, with NAFTA and the WTO, and all these trade agreements, to just move jobs out of this country, move out the manufacturing jobs, move out high-tech jobs, move out any kind of job that exists in this country that they can make a better buck off in another country by crushing workers rights. I 've seen it. It is time to put an end to it. "

  The thunder of the audience shook the room.

  An Interview in Seventeen Parts

  Being inside a campaign van during a Presidential race is like being inside a very small hurricane. The candidate does media interview after media interview via cell phone, hoping the next stretch of farmland allows for cell phone reception long enough to get his points across. Others in the van discuss language for press releases with the home office, and everyone checks the schedule for the next campaign stop, and the next, and the next.

  There were eight stops on Sunday, the day I meant to get an interview with Dennis Kucinich. I got it, interspersed between phone calls, speeches and cross-seat strategy meetings.

  WRP: You spoke in your Dubuque speech about having 21 homes all over the place when you were young, moving around a lot, and enduring that insecurity. How did that experience inform your view of politics and your reasons for doing the work you do?

  DK: For a lot of people, life is uncertain. Many people out there do not know whether they 'll have a job from one day to the next. There are people out there who are not sure if they will be able to hold on to their homes, if their health care will be there one day to the next, if they 'll be able to send their children to college, if their retirement security is assured. There 's a lot of insecurity out there, and I understand it. I grew up in that kind of environment, so I have a deep understanding of the kind of lingering anxieties people can have about their financial position.

  WRP: What, specifically, is your plan to deal with the Iraq situation?

  DK: It is a plan that involves a real shift in U.S. policy, moving away from unilateralism and pre-emption to a practice of cooperating with the world community on matters of security. First, my plan is to go to the U.N. and to ask them to handle the oil assets of Iraq on behalf of the Iraqi people, until the Iraqi people are self-governing. Second, ask the U.N. to handle the contracts under conditions of transparency where contracts will be given to the best bidder, and eliminate the kind of considerations which have so tainted the contract process. Part of that is to make sure that the Iraqi people can get jobs from that contract process. One of the compounded tragedies of our presence there is that we are manipulating the contract process. There are billions of dollars sailing through the air, and most people in Iraq don 't have work.

  WRP: We reported on truthout not long ago that U.S. forces opened a Burger King at the Baghdad airport, and imported workers from Pakistan to run it. So the Iraqi people can 't even get work at Burger King.

  DK: This is one of the things that is leading to great resentment, as is the effort by the United States to control the oil. Another source of resentment is the administration 's plans, articulated on September 19th by Paul Bremer, to privatize the top 200 enterprises in the Iraqi economy. Such privatization plans and practices violate the Geneva and Hague Conventions. We have to renounce those. We must let the world community know that we anticipate Iraqi sovereignty, and that it will be up to the people of Iraq to make a determination as to what happens with the assets of their country. In the meantime, the responsibility of the United States is to rebuild what we blew up. Some will say that it is only a private investor who can come in and do this. That 's not right. To the extent that we destroyed a functioning infrastructure, we have an obligation to repair it.

  The third thing we have to do is to turn over to the United Nations the responsibility of developing an Iraq constitution in concert with the clerical leaders in Iraq, and other leaders from within the society. The U.N. will work with the Iraqis to schedule free and fair elections. This, too, is a major stumbling block and what could prove to be the flashpoint for serious organized violence against our troops. What the administration is doing is desperately seeking a government structure which would facilitate American hegemony. The leader of the largest religious group, the Shi 'ite Muslims, has rejected the plan of the United States repeatedly over the last two months. Grand Ayatollah Sistani has demanded free and fair elections, and very pointedly has said that the Shi 'ites will not cooperate with any structure that was imposed by the United States. Anyone who is a student of history, in the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, knows of the ill-fated attempt by the United States government to try and impose a government in Vietnam which lacked popular support.

  It is our troops who will bear the brunt of this. I don 't think anyone can state strongly enough the great risk which this administration is exposing our troops to. This is an urgent matter. Two months ago, when this question first arose in the media, there were stories in the Dallas Morning News and the Omaha paper about the potential for an uprising, a true uprising, against the United States presence in Iraq. It appears that the Grand Ayatollah Sistani is, at this moment, taking a non-violent approach. Given the explosive nature of the U.S. presence in Iraq, it is very dangerous for us to be insisting on a certain structure of governance, especially if that is met with resistance by the clerical leaders. Do the math. 130,000 U.S. troops. 25 million Iraqis. 15 million of those are Shi 'ite Muslims.

  WRP: You have said that, on your first day as President, you will cancel NAFTA and the WTO. Why?

  DK: NAFTA and the WTO were written by global corporate interests whose ambitions are to seek cheap labor. That 's why NAFTA and the WTO both precluded institutionalizing workers rights, human rights, or environmental quality principles in trade agreements. They put the requirements of facilitating global commerce over every principle of ethics and what should attend to commerce. There has been much said about side-agreements that were made in developing both NAFTA and the WTO. They are not worth the paper they are written on.

  NAFTA cannot be changed without the permission of Canada or Mexico, or the global corporations which wrote them for their own benefit. NAFTA has led to a loss of 550,000 American jobs directly. With the WTO, we 've lost 3,000,000 manufacturing jobs since July of 2000. We are losing our manufacturing base, and our high-tech base in America, because of these trade agreements which put global commerce above every other principle.

  In recognition of the toll this has taken, of NAFTA 's unsurpassed shortcomings, I would exercise the provisions of both NAFTA and the WTO which authorize parties to withdraw with 60 days notice, and proceed to do so. I will reinstate bilateral trade based on workers rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles.

  WRP: You are running for President, but you are also trying to start a national movement. Explain the basis for that movement, and the goals you are ultimately trying to achieve.

  DK: It is one thing to be elected to an office. I 've won a lot of elections in my time. It 's another thing to make that election part of a broader construction of a socially and economically just society, and of a world where we can make operative the practical principles of peace as the basis for conduct between nations. I think we are at a moment in time when we are really called upon to tap the deepest capacities we have for transforming this world.

  An election campaign, while a contest of ideas, and while intended to lead to a new order of things in the United States through electing a new President in this case, me it is part of a much larger picture. That larger picture is about the consideration of the principles, the themes, the values, the aspirations which have moved people from so many different communities to get involved in this campaign. They see something beyond it. They see the potential for something beyond it. That something is at once the realization of the potential of the future, and the creation of a structure to help us get there.

  You Eat the Apple and Give Me the Corps

  At one stop outside a burger joint, an older man came out of the crowd and embraced Kucinich in a bear hug. He commandeered the microphone Kucinich was using to address the large crowd and demanded that U.S. troops be withdrawn immediately from Iraq. Kucinich hailed him, shook his hand, and went inside the shop to address the rest of the crowd away from the bitter wind. The man stayed outside, and I went to speak with him.

  I made my introduction, and was told that I was speaking to K.C. Churchill. "You eat the apple, " he said in a voice that sounded like a combination between the explosion of a howitzer cannon and a gravel truck going uphill in low gear, "and give me the Corps. The Marine Corps! HOO-YAH! " The red Corps hat on his head, festooned with combat pins and American flags, gave testament to his martial pedigree. I asked Churchill why he was there.

   "I wanted to meet the man in person, " said Churchill, "and see what he had to say. I got to see Dean on Monday night, I got to see Edwards, but I got sick before I got to see Kerry. I wanted to see Kerry very badly. I like Dennis. I really like Dennis. I raise dogs, and he reminds me of a little fox terrier. He is the smallest candidate size-wise, just like the fox terrier is the smallest dog I own. My hounds are ten times bigger than that fox terrier, but my fox terrier walks around amongst them hounds, and he is the boss. It don 't matter how small he is, he would let them know that he was the boss. He makes them hounds back down. That 's Dennis. "

   "I 'm like a lot of people, " he said. "I 'm undecided, even at this last minute. I got out of Vietnam in October of 1968. The government borrowed $300 billion to finance Vietnam, even after I got out. That pisses me off, big time. Because of that, Social Security ran into trouble, and now it 's gonna run into trouble again. They gotta keep their hands off of Social Security. That 's my biggest thing. "

  As we talked, I found out why. K.C. Churchill had been wounded three times in Vietnam. At one point, he turned his head and showed me a scar in his neck deep enough to lay his entire index finger in. He still had metal fragments in his leg and hip from a mortar blast. "This cold, " he said, "throbs and pains me because of that metal like a toothache times three. " Yet it took him two months to even get an appointment at the VA hospital down the road. "I go up there on a regular basis, but get hit with the old hurry-up-and-wait policy, " he said. "They 've cut the government funding so bad that they are understaffed to beat hell. I 've begged them for the last three years to take this metal out of me. They haven 't done it yet. What do I have to do, get a lawyer and sue their ass? What are my chances of winning? A well-diggers ass in Hell, that 's my chances. "

  K.C. Churchill does not live it large. He is a construction worker, but his war wounds make it impossible for him to get cold-weather work. Arthritis has begun to claw its way into his hands and knees. Social Security is about all he has to keep him off the street. He cannot get any assistance or medical aid from the veteran 's hospital, because the Bush administration has stripped billions of dollars in funding from basic veterans benefits to pay for the Iraq war and the tax cuts. Here was a man who served in Vietnam and took wounds up and down his body three times, but tried to re-up for another tour despite his injuries. Is he alone in his predicament? No.

  It is a national disgrace. The American people have been beaten about the head and shoulders with demands for patriotism. Support the troops, says the Bush administration, or be ashamed. 'Support the troops ' was translated into 'Support the Iraq war. ' Yet where it truly matters, the administrations ' rhetoric is shown to be an empty well. Combine that with the ugliest of truths: Over 500 soldiers are dead in Iraq, 26,000 more have been medically evacuated for physical or mental wounds, and another generation of veterans has been born, men and women who will be lauded when war has come, but will be otherwise forgotten and discarded like broken toys after a rough game.

   "What do I have to do to get my message across? " thundered Churchill outside the coffee shop. A moment later, one of the people who came out to see Kucinich stepped on a balloon that had been put out to decorate the campaign stop. It exploded with a bang. K.C. Churchill, every inch the proud and strong Marine, jumped like a scalded cat and went into a crouched, defensive posture. His eyes were wild and fearful. For several moments, he could not speak.

   "Those mortars, " he finally whispered. "You never, ever get over that. "

  How much change are you ready for?

  In speech after speech, in place after place, Dennis Kucinich asked the same question time and again. "How much change, " he asked, "are you ready for? " The people gathered in these places, people who came out by the hundreds, always leaned forward hungrily, always cheered, always waited for the word. Without fail, Kucinich brought that word, and people left filled.

  It comes down to this. Dennis Kucinich is running for President, but he is also formulating a national movement that will be in place long after the race is run. This movement, in all 50 states, will stand ready to defend the most basic American principles that have been lost for years. The movement stands for the workers. The movement stands for the families. The movement stands for the environment. The movement stands for health care. The movement stands for peace.

  The movement stands for America. During his speech in Dubuque, Kucinich said, "My campaign is about bringing the end of fear in this country, the fear which keeps us from standing up for our own interests, the fear which causes people to take positions that are against the interests of the American people. The red in our flag stands for courage, not fear. The white in our flag stands for purity. The blue in our flag stands for loyalty. When Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled banner, he posed a riddle to all of us. He asked a question. Does that Star-Spangled banner yet wave in the land of the free and the home of the brave? He made the connection between freedom and bravery, between courage and democracy. "

   "My candidacy, " he said in Dubuque, "is about calling forth the fearlessness that exists in the heart of every American, calling forth the courage to meet each day on its own terms. Without fear, with confidence, with hope, with the anticipation that we can meet the challenges, whether they be terrorism or poverty. This campaign is about a celebration of who we are as Americans, about the path of fearlessness that will lead us forward in the world, about the path of courage which will lead us to a country where we have health care for all, jobs for all, education for all, and peace in the world. We are capable of this. It is time to create a new America. The time is now. The time is now. "

  Dennis Kucinich reminds people why they are Democrats, why they are progressives, in the first place. He is the soul and the spirit of those beliefs personified, he is Franklin Delano Roosevelt returned, walking and talking and preaching in the 21st century. Anyone who doubts this has not seen the man in action, has not met the people who surround him and support him.

  This run for the White House is about far more than winning that office. If you think the end of the primaries will spell the end of his run, think again. If the Democratic Party should win the White House in 2004, a powerful progressive network will have to be in place to push the new administration in the right direction, and against the tide that has been unleashed. This is what Dennis Kucinich is constructing, one brick at a time.

  This tide has only just begun to rise. How much change are you ready for?

  -------

  William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of truthout.org. He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books - "War On Iraq," available from Context Books, "The Greatest Sedition is Silence," available from Pluto Press, and "Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism," available in August from Context Books.

originally published in truthout.org

 

 

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