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Gest Opinion: Not a Chance to Withdraw! Heck, No

Not a Chance to Withdraw! Heck, No

A Dennis Kucinich Pittsburgh Coordinator’s report on delegates and alternate petitions
By C. Wheeler, inexperienced writer
Pittsburgh, PA

I say, of course, we are going to Boston! We are an ocean and you can’t do anything against the ocean. We are relentless, and you can’t do anything against will. We need 15% of Pennsylvania votes for Dennis in the Pennsylvania primaries and we will have it. All of Pittsburgh (Congressional District number 14) Kucinich’s six delegates and one alternate, who are peace and social justice activists, got more than 250 signatures each this past week! Grassroots at its best! Kucinich has a large part of the Pittsburgh anti-war movement on its side, figuratevely speaking (in addition to the national and international movement), and the support of new comers who did not know about Dennis until recently.

We are Kucitizens and we encourage all progressive, independents, non-voters, to join us and be seriously counted. No help from the corporate media. Previous freedom builders didn’t have any media either. We were so energized and pleased with the outcome of our efforts in the past week trying to complete the needed petitions in that short period of time (one delegate only had two days to come up with the numbers, and she did it!), that we would like to thank publicly all those who signed our petitions. As a result, Dennis is on the presidential Pennsylvania ballot and we are too as his delegates and alternate. Still we will need Pennsylvanians to vote for Dennis and us in the primary on April 27th!

It was worth the effort and it all paid off up to now! All of us have been working hard to see this happen. But we must move on! And we are. Dennis will be at the Youngstown State University on March, 1st, and we are getting ready for him! Everyone should have the opportunity to hear him, even the media.

In a million years I wouldn’t have thought I was going to meet such a great group of people, people from all backgrounds, creeds, races, sexes, classes, religions… The diversity is overwhelming! It is the anti-war movement, basically, even Republicans have joined our Kucinich movement. Kucinich is the best hidden secret ever, but not for long! Mike Plaskon, a postal carrier, and Craig Stevens, a social worker for affordable housing,, two of our co-delegates, worked vigorously to bring our petition numbers up and uncover the secret.

At one point, Ed Grystar, our Pennsylvania State Campaign Director and I, met a large group of veterans, including heroes from World War II, who listened attentively to Ed, about veterans’ issues. One of the members, Val, a younger passionate veteran, who has been following Dennis’ trajectory for quite a while told us the following: “Here in Pittsburgh, the government and VA are proposing the closing of a much needed facility stating that there are too many within the same area. That may be true, but it is the last one that the veterans would have them close. They want to build on an already severely congested facility, all because it isn't as convenient for University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as the other two right next door are. Simply put, the VA is supposed to be for vets not other healthcare systems. The veterans at Highland Dr. VA are homeless, mentally ill and in desperate need of more care not less. Dennis Kucinich fights now and has in the past to keep these types of facilities open. Pittsburgh is one of the largest population of veterans in the country and government wants to reduce care rather than enhance it.” She ended encouraging her co-veterans to be responsible voters and read about Dennis and vote for the candidate they believed in and not the one the media says can get elected.

Jennifer Hollinger, a University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) student, recalls: “What was most remarkable to me about my time collecting signatures is how many people said they would vote for Dennis if they thought he had a chance of winning. If all the people who wanted to vote for Dennis, provided he could win, of course, would actually vote for him, he would have a great chance!”

What I personally gathered from these efforts to bring Dennis John Kucinich as a Democratic presidential candidate onto the Pennsylvania ballot was a galaxy of experiences and patholes of doubts and questions, such as: Who? Who is Dennis Kucinich? Isn’t he out of the race? Heck, people didn’t even know who this man was.

My friends and I, then, would roll up our invisible long-sleeved winter coats at 5 degrees below zero (with the wind chill factor), and start our passionate pitches, passing on our literature while getting registered Democrats from Congressional District number 14’s signatures to support us as delegates in our congressional district. Starting with the sentence, “this is why we are freezing here, sir/madam, so that you learn that Dennis is a Democratic presidential candidate whose presence and platform have been visibly denied and blocked off by the corporate media to ensure that Americans do not know who he is and what he has to offer you. A love affair with the media is temporary, see what they just did to Howard Dean? You probably saw him up there, they blocked him off too and he is out of the race and we regret that because we saw it coming. Dennis is still here and he is the only good alternative for the masses, sir/madam, not the one that has been chosen for you by the media.” And so on...

For the last couple of years, and soon after the tragedy of September 11th, the United States has been a fearful country guided by confusion and mistrust against each other, and that trend has not changed at all. On the contrary, it has clearly been accentuated: Bad and unconstitutional laws have been passed without the people’s knowledge which have added more division to what was already on the surface. From that obscurity of hearts, and through a year of constant, repetitive mainstream media cooperation with an ill government obsessed with invading a poor, already punished third-world country, the Bush administration managed to convince the public that a war was necessary for national security. The use of words as tools for massive manipulation, such as: “We must go to war because Sadam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction and the Iraqies are tied to the attack on 9/11,” -- only led us to believe that afterall, all Middle Easterns or brown skinned individuals look the same, thus they deserved to be annihilated – and ultimately acceptance of the war by the fearful masses was obtained.

This is why one of Dennis’ petitioners, Judith Knatz, a seniors’ caretaker, doesn’t hesitate to tell us why she supports Dennis: “Establishing a Department of Peace which is what Dennis Kucinich proposes, literally uplifts my heart. One woman who signed my petition to put this candidate on the ballot in PA, said wryly ‘I can't wish you luck.’ She didn't believe my candidate had a chance to win. And I didn't tell her but the injection of spiritual peace has already taken place.”

In spite of all this domestic turbulence, a Congressman of the State of Ohio, not a pretty boy, not of a charming stature, stood up in front of powerful politicians and said, “there is no evidence that Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction (read transcripts of an Iraqi scientist interviewed in 2003:” He was the only one who voted against a war in Iraq in Congress, who voted for what his conscience and intellect told him to do. He had the courage to challenge the government he works for by not only going against the reduction of a territory into ashes, but also against the repercussions that a war brings to our psyche, our American soldiers and their families, and principally, to the American economy.

In my opinion, as time accelerates, the Bush administration’s bad judgement will drive their leader to a lost election. The phantom of an unnecessary war based in bogus, fabricated evidence with too many witnesses coming forward and willing to talk is imminent. Even if the media keeps rallying for him, he will lose. The naked feeling is that President Bush is out of the government and there is no way he can embrace the trust of Americans any longer. He, undoubtedly, not only has changed our destinies for the worst but has mobilized a dormant giant and brought new unexpected leadership to the Democratic party, who will not accept the “moderate” government imposed on them.

Charles Swan is our alternate, he is a respectable and kind retired senior citizen, visibly active in major social issues, such as the abolition of the death penalty. He has been campaigning tireless in Squirrel Hill and other neiborhoods for Dennis. While collecting the petitions, he narrates with his usual warm smile: “I have been wearing two Kucinich stickers on my winter jacket for the past six weeks. I have been delighted by the number of people who have responded favorably to Kucinich. People have stopped me while I was shopping at Giant Eagle, while I have been walking the dog; old people out for a walk, young people; even nurses at the Hillman Center have been interested in the hand-outs -- and the parking attendant hopes Dennis can create a better job for him.” He ends up saying, “Kerry is a good man, but HE NEEDS KUCINICH DELEGATES TO KEEP THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY PROGRESSIVE!”

The next challenge that Americans have to face is whom to trust as a President of the United States. Every politician seems to be a crook in our times, and the numbers of Americans not voting are larger than the traditional parties would want to admit; Americans simply do not want anything to do with politicians. As I tried to collect petitions for delegates and alternate for Dennis Kucinich, I was dishearten but not surprised of the frequent rejections of ordinary citizens toward the voter registration forms I handed to them. They virtually did not want to do anything about voting nor wanted to hear about it, and they shared the same feeling of mistrust for politicians. I had time to reply: “I don’t blame you! But...” and I couldn’t finish my sentence in many cases.

Readers have to understand that Democrats are envisioned as Republicans around the country, and Pittsburgh is not a stranger to that vision. A number of long-term politicians, and common citizens if you will, are disenfranchised from the reality of their constituents, disenfranchised from the lives of the poor. They walk by homeless people (a great number of them are veterans) on a daily basis and get uncomfortable watching these citizens begging or hanging out in the cold. Nevertheless, no concrete solution comes out of their discomfort. These politicians did not provide the social programs’ budget needed to get homeless people out of the poverty level, they did not provide us with the health insurance and education basic needs for the build-up of a strong nation, and they did not eliminate NAFTA/WTO which has proven to have taken our jobs out of the country. These issues have become popular in Edwards and Kerry’s agendas recently and only after they heard progressive Democratic presidential candidates basically bung these issues on their heads, and after the audience responded well in return.

Today, Monday, February 15th, President’s Day, Chelsea Quattrone, a charming single-mother social worker and I, both delegates for Dennis continued our crusade of two days to gather her 250 petitions or more. She had been out of town and this was her last opportunity to get them. A caucasian native of Ohio and a Hispanic American couch, determined to retrieve signatures from nowhere, it seemed an impossible task.

From conversations with independents, non-voters, and democrats, what we heard is that we should not take likely what happened to Iraq. Every single in-house politician who voted for the war should be accountable for the destruction of that country due to their lack of objective analysis on its repercusions. We cannot disregard the fact that these leaders did not represent any opposition to Bush’ plans, and just like V.P. Gore who passively handed his votes to Bush in the last election.

We continued to clarify and inform our listeners that in spite of the support of Democratic politicians toward a war in Iraq, one emerged alone and voted against it, Congressman Dennis John Kucinich! In addition to taking that lonely path, he voted to repeal the Patriot Act and for the protection of our civil liberties. He was the first one to talk about domestic jobs by canceling NAFTA and the WTO which have not worked well for Americans, instead of continue exporting the jobs overseas. Again, he has a plan for free public education, free national health care, protection of workers’ rights, our veterans, elderly and homeless, women’s rights, gays’ rights, minorities and immigration rights. He is an inclusive, populous Democrat who is truly engaged in the welfare of the United States.

America substantially has a heroe in front of us: A Croatian Catholic who will protect the basic needs of a nation, and people still want to support a dormant politician who only awakens at time of election! A friend of mine from the Green party told me: “Sorry, we can’t help you with our votes, if your party does not convince their own members to vote with their conscience for a man like Dennis Kucinich, who is clearly suitable for the job, hey, you’ll have the same old policy makers in power, nothing will ever change, and you are not going to convince ‘us’ to join you.”

And he is right! Democrats do not vote with their conscience, they have been conditioned to follow their special interests and let the government and media control their lives, and now they are part of the ABB group, “Anybody But Bush” and are going in the wrong direction again towards the preservation of military action around the world (a military government, just like Chile, Panama, etc.), instead of finishing it right there, instead of voting their conscience for a peaceful world with opportunities for all. No. ABB is not the answer, the vote for a candidate with heart, experience and skill is needed now, and that candidate is Dennis John Kucinich.
Kucitizens feel that neither Mr. Kerry nor Mr. Edwards are the alternative for the party, but the media’s alternative. Their record is not what it is portrayed by the media. People demand honesty from campaigners, but since they are not obtaining that, I would encourage voters do their own research by going to the library, reading from non-mainstream internet sources, and using other types of educational approaches (seminars, forums, etc.). Avoid television or radio, and lastly, vote for the one who offers service every citizen --not only to you and your family—with the basic needs, to live a good life: a straight forward, clean and peaceful life. I would ask that Pittsburghers vote for Dennis John Kucinich, a brave Democratic candidate, with no strings attached to special interests who is “not just a politician,” but a “good one” (see his records). He even received the “2003 Ghandi Peace Award,” an award given only to extraordinary contributors to peace. He has been fighting for his constituents from the time he became involved in politics, look at the bills he has introduced or voted for during his political life, look at the rallies for social justice he has participated in. He will set up a Peace Department to secure national defense in a non-violent, non-aggressive, non-militarist manner (see ).

Dennis wants to protect our children from pollution, to invest in clean energy, to establish environmental principles that enhance our lives and the preservation of our planet, and to get rid off oil dependence and waste. He will invest in the restructurization of our cities which have totally been abandoned for years: sewage, light posts, roads, schools, public service buildings, new jobs on site with his renaissance programs. If we don’t push for a healthy America, the entire world will be in bankruptcy. As the unemployment rates arose and taxes for the wealthy became history (and are probably in Switzerland at this time), Dennis wants to bring those taxes back to the people and invest them so that he can put us to work rapidly. He has been compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt for his visionary, make-it-happen tradition and he will invigorate this country again.

I think it would be only fair to state for once and all that there is nothing wrong with free national single-payer health insurance. When Hilary Clinton proposed a national health care, the conservative party made a fool of herself, they killed the bill because it was too radical, too communist for them (there are poor Republicans in America who still don’t know they are Democrats at heart, but they like the name recognition) and therefore, they ignored the need of the people. The Clintons fell embarrassed and never said anything about it, the entire country thundered and repudiated the insinuation, and it became a papparazi a scandal. Years later, the country is dying! Hospitals closed, patients out. National health insurance is a vital necessity! And “the cost is already been paid by us but we don’t get the service,” says Congressman Kucinich. How longer do people have to suffer without health insurance? Suffer no more! Democrat soon to be President Dennis Kucinich will offer us free, not-for-profit national health care and the voters need to know that! He will change the structural system of the insurance and HMOs corporations and there will not be a middle man between health and doctors.

It is important to change the perception of Americans overseas, which has been badly damaged in these dark three years of regression. The international community sees us as violent nationalists only compared to odd governments. Sadly, even as the nation acknowledges its isolation and debarment from other nations, which are ingredients of a mad government in my view, there are still Bush supporters that are in denial and choose to remain working in a unilateral fashion. It is breakhearting to encounter individuals with the capacity to create spaceships, but openly reject the possibility of embracing all races and ethnicities, and/or other minority groups, and cultural curiosity is not even considered and will miss the global experience of internationalism. There is no need to spend billions of dollars in national defense if you are at peace with the world.

In addition, this administration has attacked African Americans’s Afirmative Action and our civil liberties with the Patriot Act and the Clear Act. It has figuratively tortured and persecuted new Immigrants ignoring their rights to see attorneys. Kucinich wants to enlighten that misguided perception. He wants to unify the country with free national education from Pre-kindergarten to College so that no longer there is the false concept that our planet is still flat and designed for the few. Kucinich will work with the United Nations to bring all countries together with dialog, diplomacy and tolerance, and will work to make sure that our constitutional laws are reinforced and our civil liberties are respected.

Hopeful professors, teachers, and students, are rallying and campaigning for him. Take Steffi Domike, an Assistant Professor of Art at Chatham College, and an award-winning artist whose work uses electronic media to subvert established versions of history, went out of her way to be one of Dennis’ delegates. She is a very active professor who has been involved in many social and labor issues, including production of television programs. She has been an inspiration to thousands of students, particularly female students who support her decision to run as a delegate for Dennis. Steffi is an advocate of Dennis, not only because all the issues in his platform are of service to the public, but as a professional Economist, Dennis’ plan only makes sense to her.

Kucitizens know that after Americans learn the facts about Dennis John Kucinich, then they will know that it is only common sense to vote for someone who will fight for their needs. Once they learn who Dennis is and the national media blockage of his campaign, they will reject the misleading idea that he is not electable. He will be “electable” when “we all vote for him and becomes the President of the United States. Only people make presidential candidates “electable,” we make politicians, they don’t make us. We the people will defeat those ones who do not deserve to be in the presidential race. The Democratic Pennsylvania primary will be on April 27th, a voter needs to register to vote 30 days prior to the primary. A Pennsylvania voter can do that by completing the voter registration form. Call the Elections Dept. of your area (Allegheny County for us) or file to vote through the internet:

At the end of Monday, Chelsea and I finished our tiring weekend with all the petitions necessary for her to be the last delegate for Dennis in Pittsburgh (Allegheny County, Congressional District number 14). Her fast-talk and ultra-friendly demeanor attracted the attention of all-sorts of signors, my thick accent attracted the attention of curious signors. We left our last stop at a Democratic union voters event around 5:00 p.m. where we met with fellow delegate Senator Jim Ferlo who assisted us with more signed petitions. After having run around all over our county, after being kicked out for exercising our civil duties from public and private enterprises/social services homes, such as the East Liberty Giant Eagle, the East Liberty Presbyterian Church, the Community College in Homewood and having heard demeaning comments from a Shadyside restaurant’ customer and others, we called the day off.

Indeed, we defeated many obstacles, but most importantly, we defeated time. Altogether, along with impetus and anecdotes, we said good-bye one another with the understanding that the last hour just commenced for us and our race to Dennis’ victory will be surprising to most. The path to democracy seems to be vanishing slowly and Kucitizens are the “tourchholders, who will certainly repair it for good.”


Dennis Kucinich will be in Youngstown, Ohio, at the Youngstown State University on Monday, March 1, 2004, at 7:00 p.m, and will be campaigning in Pennsylvania too. Keep tune. For information in Pennsylvania: (412) 826-1270 Ed Grystar. In Pittsburgh: (412) 421-5789 Ceci Wheeler.

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