Dennis Kucinich has just stepped away from 16 years of Congressional service to the people of Ohio, and of America. But don't make the mistake of thinking he's stepped down.
His Kucinich Action PAC is an organization dedicated to empowering individuals to engage with the political process, in which "we endeavor to build a powerful grassroots movement to return the power to the people in our political system."
I first heard about Dennis Kucinich in June 2002, when my daughter called me from Dubrovnik, Croatia, where she was attending an international peace conference.
"He is a Congressman from Ohio, and he gave an awesome speech at the conference! AWESOME! You'd love him! Kucinich, Mom. K-U-C-I-N-I-C-H. From Ohio. Look him up, Mom. I gotta go ..."
A year later I sat front row, center, at my first opportunity to hear the Congressman, live. Like the architect of an ideal nation, he painted a verbal image of an amazing America that seemed to spring exuberantly from the original dreams of our founding fathers and mothers. Kucinich called on us to "remake America by reconnecting with a higher purpose to bring peace within and without, to come into harmony with nature, to confirm and to secure the basic rights of our brothers and sisters."
Kucinich understands the American Dream, and knows how to ignite it in the hearts and minds of yearning citizens.
In a related Opednews article, Ruth Hull calls him "perhaps the most charismatic speaker in politics, contrary to the 'unelectable' lies that only people who haven't seen him speak, believe," and I agree. She notes, "I've personally seen Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and most other prominent leaders and Democratic candidates speak and none of them gets as many standing ovations as Kucinich. There is almost no point is sitting during one of his speeches, as you will be back on your feet applauding a minute or two later."
In 1977, at 31, Kucinich was elected mayor of Cleveland, the nation's youngest mayor of a major city. He won the election based on his campaign promises to save the city-owned power company, Municipal Light from private hands. In response to an attempted, Enron-like takeover of "Muny" Light, Kucinich stood his moral ground.
The banks' holdings were genteelly characterized as being "interwoven" with the privately-owned competitor that wanted to create a monopoly. So, in retaliation of Kucinich's protection of the public interest, the banks made an unprecedented move, and drove the city into default over their loans. It was the first time since the Great Depression that a major American city had been brought to its knees by the banks.
A youthful profile in courage, Kucinich held fast to his campaign promise. The corporate fear machine spread lies, panic and distrust. He didn't budge.
He won that round, but as a result his political career slipped into a black hole for 15 years.
Few things are more discouraging than being tarred and feathered by the very people for whom you have given up everything to protect. But vindication finally came in 1993, when then-Cleveland Mayor Michael White recognized Kucinich for saving the residents of Cleveland hundreds of millions of dollars. After Dennis' deft rescue, the utility had thrived, just as he'd expected.