Friday, June 22, 2007

"My name is Dennis Kucinich, and I want to be President of the United States of America!"

Now, admittedly, this isn't actually likely to happen, but for those of you who were following the last race for the Democratic nomination in 2004, you'll recall the lingering proponent of what we in Britain might refer to as an unabashedly left-wing agenda, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, from Cleveland, Ohio.

Kucinich maintained his campaign long after it was clear that he had little mainstream support amongst Democratic primary voters, and he is back again this time, promoting the same agenda of proper healthcare, real jobs, fair trade and sustainable economic growth which tends to be lost in the rush to the centre of American politics. His policies foresee a much larger role for government than I believe voters (and I use the word voter rather than citizen) are able to stomach in such a suspicious society.

It is perhaps a sign of the chasm in the debate on either side of the Atlantic that an American political campaigner can talk of 46 million Americans without access to affordable health care, and risk defeat if he or she proposes to act to improve matters, whereas any attempt to remove access to health care free, for the most part, of charge in Europe would lead to electoral suicide.

Personally, I think that Kucinich will again fly his flag through the primary season, as a living reminder to more likely victors that there is a radical stripe in the Democratic Party, and that they need to energise it to mobilise the base supporters. He is, perhaps unexpectedly, a remarkably intellectual speaker, capable of making an argument without too many garish soundbites, and would on some issues, fall within Liberal Democrat territory. I was therefore keen to hear him speak on day 2 of the ADA Convention.

He talked of fair trade but was keen to protect American jobs, he spoke of the need for a strong military but called for greater emphasis on diplomacy in America's dealings with the rest of the world. He understands that Bush has made the world less safe, and America even less so, accepting as he does that the current policy of coercion of allies and opponents alike creates new and more numerous enemies.

I was, I admit, impressed. He may not have a shot of success, but his ability to rally progressive activists is strong, he speaks passionately about issues of concern to the socially aware, and he is able to express a philosophy in a way that few politicians can without sounding vaguely folksy. And I'm sorry, but I'm never going to be one of those 'knit your own folk guitar' kind of liberals...

1 comment:

Tristan said...

He sounds like what's wrong with the Democrats - they ceased to be liberal in 1896.

Liberalism is about small government and letting people live their lives.
Protecting jobs is code for protectionism, fair trade is more code for that.