Kucinich Looks Forward

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Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Dennis Kucinich, U.S. Representative (D) for Ohio's 10th Congressional district, and candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 2004 and 2008 elections, talks about his congressional future if his district is eliminated in the redistricting process.

Dennis Kucinich, two-time democratic presidential hopeful, national leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, and congressman from Ohio, is contemplating a move. 

A victim of the 2010 census, redistricting has eliminated his current seat in Ohio. The life-long Cleveland resident held a fundraiser in the Seattle area last week but said he hasn’t made any decision.about where he will go. Kucinich feels confident he will be able to represent the people of the area, no matter where.

My work in the Congress has been work that has affected the whole country, in terms of standing up for workers rights, for peace, for environmental quality, [and] working to make sure we have an economy where social and economic justice principles are part of what guides us… What I find in my campaigns for the presidency, is that all over the country there were people responding to the same themes that I’ve raised in Cleveland as a member of Congress.

An example of this national role happened yesterday, when the congressman took the floor of the House to declare the war in Libya unconstitutional. Kucinich said that by declaring U.S. involvement in Libya, President Obama violated the constitutional mandate that gives war power to Congress, and that the president violated also the War Powers Act, requiring that he report back to Congress within 60 days for authorization of further involvement.  

He hasn't done that. This is a nation of laws, not of men and women, and we have to abide by the laws and the Constitution. I’m insisting that President Obama do that just like I insisted that President Bush do it. I think if we’re going to talk about the Constitution we have to do it in a way that does not relate to partisan politics.

While the war in Libya has been a NATO war, Kucinich pointed out that the United States is a major player in NATO, paying the largest share of the expenses and providing the bulk of the cruise missiles, personnel, ships and planes. He believes the United States’ large roll in NATO makes the attack a United States action.

This is NATO? I mean, c’mon! Look, I think the American people ought to be fed up with a government that says one thing and does another. And if I do anything and add to this debate, it’s to just call it as I see it, and the way I see it is generally the way it is.

Kucinich has criticism for the president over his handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan as well. He said not only should the United States be out of Afghanistan, but it should not have kept forces in Afghanistan in the first place after the initial response to the attacks on September 11, 2001.

We had every right to respond to the attacks on 9/11. But to invade and occupy the country? It was a failed mission from the beginning. We’re holding hands with some of the most notorious types in the region… We are losing our way in Afghanistan and we have to get out, just as we need to get out of Iraq and change America’s role in the world.

Conflicting reports about the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden call into question the model of justice that the United States stands by in its interactions across the world. Kucinich said that question represents an issue far larger than the capture and killing of a single individual.

Everyone knows what Osama bin Laden represented. The question is, what do we represent? Do we represent a rule of law, do we represent a constitutionally-based rule of justice, or are we going to now bring forth a model of retributive justice and vengeance and make that the way that we deal with the world?

Does all this criticism of the president indicate that Kucinich himself may be eyeing another run for the White House? Kucinich said no.

I hope that I’ll continue to be of service in the House of Representatives. I just do not know where I’ll be running at this point.

Kucinich said he plans to push for stronger unions, single-payer healthcare coverage, and similar progressive initiatives which he said will strengthen and preserve democracy in the country.

Is there hope for our democracy? Only if we keep challenging these wars which generally are based on misinformation. Only if we keep challenging the national security state, which is building here… We need to keep pushing back and reclaim our basic rights that unfortunately have been lost due to high-ranking officials promoting a psychology of fear. America is a nation of courageous people. We need to call upon that courage, and it is that courage that will light our path towards a more democratic nation.