Opinion: So Long, Dennis Kucinich - The Left Loses Its Ron Paul

Thursday, March 08, 2012 - 11:08 AM

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Alex Wong/Getty)

When Ron Paul ends his presidential bid - during the primaries, at the Convention or on Election Day - he'll also likely end his tenure in Congress, depriving the Republican Party of a uniquely passionate and idiosyncratic perspective. While Paul's views might live on the edges of the mainstream ideology in Washington, his commitment has helped inspire insurgent energy, and while you can rarely say that he himself changed the debate, you can certainly argue that he held a persistent and important sway that tugged at his party.

How will the GOP feel losing that voice? Well, they just need to look at the Democrats who will say farewell to Representative Dennis Kucinich, after he lost his primary to fellow incumbent Representative Marcy Kaptur on Tuesday evening.

In opposition to the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, Kucinich and Paul have shared a few critical and underrepresented positions. But the more important commonality is their role in voicing opinions that "serious" politicians in their party are afraid to speak. Kucinich's '04 run may have had even less pull on the eventual Democatric nominee than Paul will have on his own party's choice, but Kucinich's impact wasn't primarily in the presidential primary process - it was in inspiring progressives around the country to remember they can find, support and elect politicians who are willing to take courageous stances.

Kucinich's loss was not a referendum on his liberal positions so there is no larger morality tale on the danger of standing on your convictions. Kucinich was the victim of a redistricting - and gerrymandering. The former is the natural process by which seats need to shift to where the population has moved. The latter is the political manipulation of that process. In pitting Kucinich and Kaptur against each other, the Ohio GOP, with the backing of Speaker Boehner, constructed an unlikely district designed to diminish Democratic representation. Gerrymandering is not a uniquely Republican affair around the country; but, as this case proves, the right-wing often does manipulation better than the Left.

I never voted for Kucinich and never worked for him. I was one of those progressives that thought, right or wrong, I needed to be more pragmatic in presidential politics. But I admired the feisty fight he brought to the House. I saw him as an ally to the organizations and causes I most respect. And he was a useful reminder for friends who would get disillusioned with politics that we can elect uncompromising, principled representatives.

As Tuesday shows, they can also be unelected. But when a former Mayor of Cleveland is passed over by Toledo voters, that's not a rejection of his politics. He was taken out by a system beyond his control; and while he often willingly wrangled with forces larger and more powerful than him, this time there was no road to victory. For a politician who disillusioned supporters less than most, the gerrymandering that brought him down is the most disillusioning fact of all.

Somehow I suspect Kucinich will keep rallying the Left from outside of DC. Maybe he and Ron Paul should start a movement against the Patriot Act together. We can only hope that others inside the Capitol take up both of their roles as loudly and proudly.


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Comments [6]

Pave Grancaric from NYC

My friend!

You said you never voted for Kucinich...that's fine! As the name of this site shows...'It's a free country'!!

BUT let me tell you something and let me tell ALL of you something!

If we had more people like Kucinich...and if we had voted more for people like Kucinich, this country would be a FAR, FAR better place then it is today!

That is a friend...and to the rest of you!

Bcs this guy stood and still stands for the average guy...the working man and woman of this country, which is what this country is mostly comprised of anyway and which is what made this country what it is today anyway!

...too bad many or most of you out there DID not and DO not see this!!


Mar. 14 2012 07:57 PM

To those supporters of Ron Paul in NY, please go to your GOP caucuses and get yourself nominated and elected to be a delegate to the district and state conventions. After that try to get elected to the national convention, even if its as an alternate, most alternates actually become delegates because some people don't go to the GOP National Convention. Why? Because it at that state and national conventions that party platforms are established. Also, if the national convention is not won on the first ballot, you can vote for Ron Paul and make him the GOP National Nominee. Help show America that we really do believe in Liberty and the Constitution.

Mar. 09 2012 12:00 AM
Evan Rogers from dublin ohio

Kucinich was NO Ron Paul. Quit making obviously false comparisons.

Mar. 08 2012 08:56 PM

If Ron Paul is not the nominee, the Republicans lose. And if Ron Paul endorses Gary Johnson, the Republican nominee may very well come in third in November.

Mar. 08 2012 07:38 PM
Billy Malone

I think there was one other true patriot besides Ron Paul and Dennis. Bob Barr. He too is gone and when Ron Paul goes maybe just maybe his son will take up the cause for liberty. (just hope it's not to late by then)

Mar. 08 2012 04:53 PM
Michael from Ga

Too bad the only decent men in congress have been so long passed over because of pragmatists that have put liberty at the edge of extinction.

Mar. 08 2012 04:32 PM

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