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Congress Will Be Diminished by the Departure of Dennis Kucinch

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Cross-posted from The Nation



Dennis Kucinich has had many political lives. Elected to the Cleveland City Council in 1969 at age 23, he was in 1977 elected as that great American city's "boy mayor." Kucinich's refusal to bend to the demands of the downtown banks and the utility corporations that wanted him to privatize public services led to a withering electoral assault that would eventually force him from office.

For much of the 1980s, Kucinich  was a political pariah, running and losing races in his native Ohio and slowly fading from the national limelight he had once enjoyed.

Then, in the "Republican revolution" year of 1994, Kucinich stunned local and state (and even a few natrional) observers by emerging as one of only a handful of Democratic legislative candidates to upset a sitting Republican state senator. Two years later, he ran for Congress against one of Newt Gingrich's Republican lieutenants and won a Cleveland-area House seat.

The Kucinich who came to Congress in the 1990s was every bit as incorruptible and uncompromising on principle as the "boy mayor" who fought Cleveland's crony capitalists in the 1970s. He opposed trade deals, deregulation schemes and, most notably, the wars of whim of Democratic and Republican presidents. By 2000, he was arguing that Democrats should include in their platform a proposal for a "Department of Peace" that would use diplomacy, development aid and environmental initiatives rather than drones, occupations and crackdowns on basic liberties to create real security for the United States and the planet.

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John Nichols, a pioneering political blogger, has written the Online Beat since 1999. His posts have been circulated internationally, quoted in numerous books and mentioned in debates on the floor of Congress.

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