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Putting the cart before the Horse
Why Kucinich bombed
by Bryan Zepp Jamieson
Zepp's Commentaries
March 12,

For a liberal, Dennis Kucinich was nearly the ideal candidate. He was strong on individual freedoms, national health, controlling the predations of corporations, and preventing complete corporate takeover of the media.

Better still, he had a proven track record of being willing and able to fight for his beliefs, and the 85% approval ratings in his home congressional district showed that he could do his job competently and ably.

Nor was he an outsider with little national exposure. Clear back in the 1970s he made his mark -- and became an American hero -- as the "boy mayor" of Cleveland. He stood up to conglomerates then, just as he does now. He is an effective and able Congressman, which gave him substantially more political experience toward being President than about half the other candidates running, including the incumbent.

So the corporate media wrote him off immediately. Not that they are solely to blame; Kucinich didn't do well in the debates, coming across as shrill and a bit twitchy. But even then, he usually made the strongest points, sometimes drawing big ovations from the crowds.

Much is being made of the fact that both presidential candidates are millionaires who attended the same schools and joined the same secret societies (and the tin foil hat crowd is going nuts over the Skull and Bones thing, that is, when they aren't busily crisping all their twenty dollar bills in the microwaves to see if Andrew Jackson's right eye explodes and catches fire -- a client came in with some oddly brown twenties to report that it does not).

That doesn't mean that there aren't huge differences between the two candidates, or that they are both necessarily captives of the same interests. Anyone who thinks all wealthy people are necessarily malign, fascistic and antipathetic to workers and the American people in general need only consider two well-known traitors to their class: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and George Soros. And sometimes, Warren Buffet. Rich don't mean evil, it doesn't even mean greedy, shortsighted and stupid. Even if it is the way to bet.

But the media simply figured that Kerry, like Putsch, was of the Deserving Class, one of our natural born rulers, and so promoted him, while ignoring Kucinich and pouncing on Dean.

No surprise there. Kerry, being rich, must have seemed "safe" to the corporate lickspittles of the media.

And both Dean and Kucinich each were not wholly undeserving. Dean did overplay the "angry" angle and it blew up in his face, and Kucinich seemed to think in this age of "hot media" that earnestness would overcome a lack of showmanship. I wish he was right, but he wasn't.

But both would have had fair chances if the election system wasn't so rigged. And given fair chances, one or the other might be presidential nominees.

You want a greater diversity of voices in the campaigns? You want congressional races that aren't so lopsidedly in favor of the incumbents? You want the VOTERS to decide someone has been in office long enough, and not have to rely on arbitrary and capricious "term limit" laws? You want to see Greens, or Libertarians, or Reform, or Natural Law, or one of the hundreds of other minor parties get some coverage, and have a chance to present their views to reporters and the public?

You want elections where the media isn't pushing hard for the candidate who will strive the hardest to make the parent companies of the media even more rich and powerful?

It's not going to happen until we change the rules of the game. And yes, WE have to change those rules. The elected reps are beneficiaries of the present system, and while some are honest and earnest enough to vote for change, they are up against an entrenched coterie that will do everything in their power to weaken or gut any such reform.

Don't believe that? Take a look at what McCain-Feingold has accomplished in this election cycle.

You can't keep money out of politics, and it's foolish to try. Money always finds a way, and this year, the loophole is in the "527s", the independent non-partisan advocacy groups that aren't affiliated with any party, but in most cases have a recognizable political stance. In some ways, that's actually an improvement over the old system, but it's still limiting the number of voices that can be heard, and, in many cases, organizations exist to PREVENT discourse and discussion through propaganda and Goebbelesque tactics.

The best way I know of to improve this system, to make it so the Kuciniches, and yes, the Pat Buchanans and the Ralph Naders and the libertarians and the peace & freedom people can be heard and can be elected, is to push for Clean Campaign reform.

That's the voluntary public funding system, in place in four states, that gives any office-seeker a choice. The candidate can EITHER accept donations from private sources, OR accept public financing up to the greatest amount spent by the most lavish candidate in the last election cycle.

In a cycle where Putsch has raised $150 million, and guys like Soros are pledging millions (or even billions, if that's what it takes) to unseat Putsch, Kucinich only raised $2 million. It's no wonder most voters don't even know what he LOOKS like, let alone what his stances are.

Imagine if Kucinich were able to get 5,000 signatures, and $100,000 in donations nationwide, and qualify for up to $110 million -- the amount spent by Putsch in the last election cycle.

Think you might know a bit more about Kucinich right about now? I bet a lot of you, reading this, are belatedly curious.

The signatures and donations numbers -- which I admit are just off-the-cuff amounts that I conjured up for a hypothetical clean campaign-style presidential run -- are what separate minor, but credible candidates from 400 pound nuns with beards, Opus the Penguin, and every flake who ran for governor of California last fall.

This election cycle is make or break for America -- free people against the fascists, and the media, owned by the beneficiaries of a fascist system, are going to be pressing hard for a Putsch reelection. If he gets it, it probably won't matter what the American people do; their voice will be meaningless.

But if we can survive this election and remain a free people, we can steer away from the dangers of plutocratically selected and elected politicians, and return the voices of the campaign back to those who should have been funding this public service right from the start: the people.

Posted: March 13, 2004


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