A candidate of the people in 2008?
I see a ray of light on the far horizon, but there are an awful lot of clouds blocking the way.That’s my current view of the political landscape in the United States, where the Republican Party is poised to win back control of the U.S. Senate because one man’s health gave out.Sen. Tim Johnson, a Democrat from South Dakota, was hanging on as of Friday, responding to touch and to spoken words, according to the doctors who performed brain surgery on him earlier in the week after he suffered a brain hemorrhage because of a congenital defect.Republicans everywhere began salivating at Johnson’s deathbed, figuratively speaking, because should he die or be unable to return to his Senate seat, the Republican governor of South Dakota would appoint a replacement. And regardless of the wishes of the state’s voters, he would be expected to appoint a Republican, which would give that party control of the Senate after losing it in the 2006 midterm election.So bad health may undo not only the will of one state’s voters, but those of the nation. Such are the vagaries of political life and death in a nation deeply divided on so many issues it boggles the mind.But, back to that ray of light, Ohio Democrat Dennis Kucinich has announced he will once again chase the golden ring around the rosy. He is running for president in 2008.Kucinich, as some surely recall, competed in the 2004 presidential race, although he was virtually ignored by the mainstream media. The big fight was between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry, and that’s where the media trained their spotlights.Kucinich, who campaigned on a platform of peace and justice, affordable medical care for all and the restoration of basic civil rights to all citizens, did not vote for the USA Patriot Act, that atrocious example of legislative buffoonery that Bush slammed through Congress in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. The act is now widely viewed as deeply flawed, permitting overzealous wielders of false patriotism to slash away at our civil rights and turn the U.S. into a police state.Kucinich, first elected to Congress from the 10th District in Ohio, has held out against other transparent attempts to use patriotism as a wedge for pitting U.S. citizens against one another, such as the flag-burning amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and thus divert the voters from the things they really should worry about. These include the fact that corporate America is looting the national treasure, turning our wild areas into their own private profit-generators with little regard for environmental degradation, and widening the gap between rich and poor to an alarming degree.And then there’s the war in Iraq, which Kucinich opposes vehemently; our long nightmare of electoral confusion, misdirection and outright theft or suppression of votes, which Kucinich views as the national disgrace that it is; and the “Star Wars” defense boondoggle started by the late Ronald Reagan and now taken up by the current president, which Kucinich also opposes.I certainly don’t know all there is to know about Kucinich, and undoubtedly there are things about him that I will find troublesome. But from what I saw in 2004, and what I’ve since read about his exploits, I see in him the only candidate to declare so far for 2008 that I can support, at least at this point in the preliminary rounds.Kucinich, 60, the Midwestern son of a blue-collar family, seems to be a true man of the people. He graduated from Case Western Reserve University, my sainted mother’s alma mater, which means nothing but has a nice sound to it. He stood up to corporate freeloaders and corrupt political machines while he was mayor of Cleveland, and steadfastly resisted a corporate takeover of the city-owned power and light utility.The front-runners, on the other hand, are all bought-and-sold examples of the kind of politician that is running this country straight into the ground, like a monstrous, rudderless helium-filled balloon.We should be able to do better, and perhaps with Kucinich we can.John Colson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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