In February, 2002, Rep. Kucinich passionately delivered his Prayer for America to a cheering group of over a thousand members of the Americans for Democratic Action, at USC in Los Angeles. It catapulted him squarely into a campaign for president.
Then Kucinich was the surprise hit of the first cyberspace primary in history. It was organized by MoveOn.org which, in 2003, was just beginning to demonstrate the internet's potential as a tool for grassroots political action. Their reported membership at the time was over 1.5 million people, more than the entire populations of a dozen different states in the U.S.
Over 317,000 voters participated in the MoveOn primary on June 24-25, 2003, a number greater than the New Hampshire primary and the Iowa caucus combined.
Given Kucinich's late start in the race, limited resources, and conspicuous lack of media attention, he was expected to bring up a place in the rear. But he finished second, with 76,000 votes, 24% of the total. Howard Dean won with 44%. John Kerry captured only 16% of the votes. None of the other six candidates made it to the double digits.
After thoughtful deduction, I finally discovered the common denominator. People who are out of integrity, themselves, have trouble connecting with - and even perceiving - someone who has integrity, as if they lived in alternate realities. So the difficulties in getting and keeping Kucinich in a position of service may have much more to do with the fact that the aspirations of average American citizens seem to be quite a few notches below Kucinich's vision for us.
Dennis kindly answered a few questions just after his term expired.
MAB: Dennis, thank you for making time to talk to me. Lots of us are wondering: what's the vision for your next chapter?
Well, this is only the 2nd day that I am not a member of Congress, and I've been so busy with the work of the nation and my constituents in the past year, that hasn't left me much time to think about my own plans before this. But now I am excited and expectant to be at the beginning of a whole new period.
MAB: You certainly seem to be a favorite of the people. I know that you have consistently received more votes per campaign dollar spent than any other candidate.
DK: Yes, we raised significant amounts from the internet, from small donors, hundreds of thousands over the years. It's a testimony to making elections about participatory democracy at every level. We will continue to work toward public financing of elections at state and federal levels, and work toward a constitutional amendment to end corporate financing of campaigns.
In the last election cycle over 4 billion dollars was spent. When some individuals are able to invest millions of dollars, the government ends up being in an auction, going to the highest bidder.