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Dennis Kucinich Is Why I Care About Politics

by Alex Iwashyna

in Progressive Politics


Kucinich For President

This week, Dennis Kucinich lost the Ohio primary to a more conservative democrat in part due to redistricting.

I don’t want to get into gerrymandering. What I want to do is thank Representative Kucinich.

Before 2004, I didn’t think much about politics. I voted because I’m patriotic, but I never considered the government’s role in our lives or voted for candidates beyond the superficial party affiliations.

Before I understood capitalism, I believed the market could take care of itself without government interference. Then I learned about the history of child labor, unsafe work conditions and profit-motive.

Before I understood that where we are born, the color of our skin, our genitals and our wealth determined so much of our worth in society, I thought everyone could just pull themselves up by their bootstraps without any assistance.

Before I understood what a culture of life meant, where the lives of people whether they murdered a man or spread their legs or went to church every Sunday deserve a certain level of respect, access to healthcare, and to shown what they could not show themselves, no matter how much I abhorred their decisions, I thought pro-life meant the unborn to the abolishment of the death penalty only.

As my convictions grew deeper so did my feelings of disenfranchisement. I felt like no politician spoke for me. I felt like money and catch phrases rules the day and the real problems would not be solved. I felt like I was told my idealism had no place in our country.

Until Dennis Kucinich ran for president in 2004. I read his website and my jaw dropped. He was the first politician I agreed with, without compromising something. Universal healthcare, abolishment of the death penalty, social justice, peace. So I decided to support his run even when I was told that he had no chance. I needed to canvas and inform my friends and family and neighbors because I needed to believe in a politician again or I would’ve stopped caring completely.

Since then, I have compromised, and I’m not as idealistic. But I wouldn’t pay attention to politics, write about my thoughts on government, and stand firm on the policies I believe in, if it wasn’t for a man in congress who never technically represented me.

Does his loss make me believe less? No. Nor did it when he dropped out of the presidential primary back in 2004. He gave me courage to speak out and no loss can take that away.

I found my voice and place in politics thanks to Representative Kucinich. He represented me in the most important way possible: the belief that government is for all people, even me.

Find more pieces on Kucinich in The Nation and Truthdig.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Itsadomelife March 8, 2012 1

You’ve written a really nice tribute to Dennis Kucinich. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that’s kind of how I feel about Bernie Sanders right now. He sometimes makes me want to move to Vermont just so I could be represented by someone that seems to share my values.


julie gardner March 8, 2012 2

Then here I am thanking him, too.

Your thoughtful political commentary is something I always look forward to reading (and sharing); therefore color me grateful to the man who inspired you in this way.


The Mommy Psychologist March 9, 2012 3

I’ve always wondered how you pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have any boots…


Carolyn West March 9, 2012 4

I think there are very few politicians who represent the things I believe. Okay, there might not be any of them. Voting these days has become deciding on the lesser of two evils. I hate that. I wish there was one person who I believed in wholeheartedly. I would love to have someone I actually wanted to campaign for. I’ve become very involved locally with our education issues and it’s like pulling teeth to get people to care about our kids and teachers. Nobody wants to do anything and it’s so frustrating. I totally believe we can make a difference if we have the numbers behind us. The trick is how to convince other people of that.


Lance March 9, 2012 5

I didn’t agree with him or even like him but I admired him. He never backed down when Democratic establishment was a snob to him at debates or asked him to shut up. He fought for the bills he believed in and called out colleagues who sold their votes.

He will be misse din the arena of ideas.


Late Enough March 9, 2012 6

One of the pieces I linked to called Kucinich “the conscience of congress” — I think that’s quite apt and not a bad reputation to have.


Ashley March 9, 2012 7

I MET DENNIS!!! This past November.

He was seriously the kindest, most wonderful politician EVER. Plus, he’s the only vegan in congress and that’s just awesome.

There was a janitor who said that every congressperson was terribly snooty and mean to her except for “Mr. Dennis.” I mean, come on.

Plus, he is a Christian liberal! A *Catholic* liberal. Love him so, so much.


vikki March 11, 2012 8

dennis kucinich represented the district i grew up in, and it’s hard for me to believe he’s gone. his story was amazing–living in a car with his parents and siblings, homeless, dirt poor–and he is a cleveland institution. he is the real deal in every sense; everyone in cleveland knows him and knows what he stands for, and it is all about gerrymandering. a real loss for cleveland and for congress.


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