What's odd is that the party so often puts up a weak candidate in the name of "electability." What was so "electable" about John Kerry? Turns out not much. His voting record is a bit spotty, but truth be told he had only a few shameful votes. In the end the Republicans attacked his record on military appropriations, and rather than offering unequivocal language he gave us the infamous "I voted for it before I voted against it." We lost 2004 when we nominated Kerry.
If the party gives Hillary Clinton the nomination, how will she defend her record? Why aren't "mainstream" Democrats challenging the disconnect between her rhetoric and her service record—now, in the primary season, when we're supposed to discover our own candidates? Where is this elusive "electability" of the frontrunner candidates? They all fall seriously short on the major issues people care about: Iraq, health care, labor rights, civil rights.
Money silences dissent.
Obviously many voters accept the cynical if accurate notion that money wins elections. Let's be honest, money indeed wins a lot of elections. Most of them, it turns out. People usually choose their candidates like they're picking out a pair of shoes they've never even worn. This is the reality of our political context.
But here's where cynical notions of "electability" fall short: the big money candidates of our two-party system can only ever count on the straight-party ticket votes, like mine. My vote and votes just like it on both sides of the isle will only ever ensure that the default results of any general election come in at about 50/50 D and R. That's what the primary wins for any candidate with the D or R brand: about a 50/50 split unless you do something really stupid (and often if you do). What happens beyond the default position depends entirely on the candidate.
Did you catch Kucinich at the AFL-CIO debate? Who were those ordinary American workers whose raucous cheers gave Kucinich the clear victory that day? Those were cheers from labor, the traditional base of the Democratic Party.
Take just another minute to reflect on the previous paragraph. The "unelectable" Kucinich won the debate, hands down, before the traditional base of the Democratic Party, the working class and middle class people whose labor generates the profits that accrue to the capital that finances the big money, "electable" Democrats who gut worker rights and privatize our communities at every turn.
The traditional Democratic base isn't stupid. They haven't been driven away from the polls because they are lazy or apathetic. They are painfully aware of the huge disconnect between Democratic Party rhetoric and the official behavior of many Democrats. They don't appreciate being lied to, and maybe they have grudging reasons to go to the polls just to vote against some Republican. Maybe they don't. The traditional Democratic base doesn't always turn up at the polls. They need more than transparent rhetoric. They require a real candidate who actually represents their interests.
And they love Kucinich.
That means we who support Kucinich, if we take our work seriously, have two huge tasks before us. We have to educate that 40 percent of the voter base about our guy, and we have to try and convince the Democratic Party that it's on the same losing course again unless it backs the only candidate who inspires and motivates the Democratic base.
We have to behave like a community that deserves a Kucinich presidency.