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Stateside: Going Back For Dessert

Stateside with Rosalea

Going Back For Dessert

Since the words I ate last week weren’t too indigestible, I decided to eat some more by going to a political rally. Four years older and wiser, this time I went to one where I wasn’t trapped in a seat and where no-one was likely to be passing around a box looking for donations – the student quad at the local uni.

Spoken word poetry, it seems, is still considered an attractant for that age group - which is a mixed blessing if your name rhymes with “spinach” as Dennis Kucinich’s does. His name is pronounced with the emphasis on “sin,” and his remark at a candidate debate many weeks ago about how he can only fantasise about what his First Lady would be like if he became president has probably garnered him more attention than anything else in his campaign.

The night before I saw him in person, he was on the late night show on NBC, where he played a mock Dating Game with the three female guests, one of whom had a send-up wardrobe malfunction. At least that’s the segment that was shown on the local morning news the next morning, when Kucinich was being interviewed. He manages to bear these distractions with good grace and humour, and still get out his message.

You can go to his website to read about his background, experience, and policies – all of which deserve a closer look than the news outlets are willing to give him now that they’ve manufactured themselves a horse race to cover. The policies that got the biggest cheer from the crowd I was part of was his saying that as president he would abolish all nuclear weapons, sign treaties, and have the United States join the International Criminal Court.

“It is time for America to rejoin the world,” he said, saying there should be no more unilateralism but a recognition that world affairs are interconnected and interdependent.

On the subject of the war in Iraq, he asked if the crowd was ready to trade a Republican war for a Democratic war, which is all they’ll get if they choose someone like Kerry to be the presidential candidate. Of his rivals, Kucinich pointed out how they say they voted for the war powers resolution because George W. Bush fooled them. “You wanna be president, and George Bush can fool you?” asked Kucinich, to a roar of laughter from the crowd, “Well, he didn’t fool me!

He offered to help Bush find the weapons of mass destruction, citing his experience as mayor of a big city having given him the experience to do so. “Poverty, joblessness, lack of hope, poor health care, inadequate access to education – those are the weapons of mass destruction,” declared Kucinich, before launching into a list of the things “my presidency – our presidency” will be about, like free college tuition and universal health care.

It’s quite a thing to go see a candidate campaigning for the right to be the challenger in the next presidential election. There’s the build-up by various speakers, chosen for their age and issue relationship to the crowd that’s in attendance, then that rousing introduction: “And now, here’s the next president of the United States...” Fair brought a tear to me eye, it did. For all that the media try to make Kucinich out to be a joke, he is a serious and seasoned candidate with substantive plans to deal with the issues that face people here in the States.

My lasting impression of him is actually a physical one. He is slight and not tall, with a very round head topped with jet black hair. He was wearing a woollen overcoat, jet black, that came down to mid-calf, tapered. He looked for all the world like one of those graphic design symbols that you see on the door to the mens room. Not the symbol with two legs; the one that looks more like a peg.

Is Kucinich, so to speak, a black peg destined for the black hole of political obscurity? I hope not. Perhaps, as the White House deliberately allows Bush to slip in the polls so that the “who can beat Bush” dynamic doesn’t keep throwing up Kerry as the likely opponent, voters in the primaries will take what the Democratic Party stands FOR more seriously than what the Democratic Party stands against.


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