12/04/2003

So last night, I'm driving home from a couple rehearsals, and I turn on the radio. The show on KFPT is Damage Control, a hip hop show with host Matt Sonzala and others. They're talking with some congressman, who I assume to be a state congressman.

Then I realize that it's Dennis Kucinich. And he's in studio.

So naturally, I change course and head over to the studios, a few blocks from my house. I find the studio full to overflowing with people - rappers, hip hop djs, and a few other friends. I shake hands with the guy, and head home.

What I wanted to say (but of course did not) was: Dennis, I think you are a man of great integrity and courage, and your campaign impresses me. Now stop it already, and throw your weight to Dean so we can get him elected and end the most disasterous administration in US history.

But later, I came to a couple realizations. Kucinich will never get the Democratic nod. But he is playing an important role at this stage in the election, in 2 ways.

First, he is giving voice and focus to the left-most element in US politics, giving them a spokesman in a very high position. That has the effect of pulling the whole debate a little bit to the left. If he weren't there, Dean would be as far left as it goes, and he's a blooming centrist for crying out loud. Kucinich says the stuff that needs to be said but that would get Dean thrown out on his ear if he said it.

Second, Kucinich has taken all the super-left politically active people - the wonderful people who are always politically active, but who, for better or worse, have a tendency to alienate the average American - and kept them out of the Dean campaign. So the Dean campaign's infrastructure is dug in with left-leaning moderates, like myself, who don't want revolution, just honesty and improvement. You'll never hear a Dean organizer shout "Free Mumia!". So the campaign actually has a chance of convincing Joe NASCAR Dad to lend his vote.

I don't want to sound like an apologist for the center. I am all for freeing Mumia, legalizing pot, supporting gay marriage, waging peace, and cracking down on corporate and political cronyism. But I also want to a) win this election and then b) heal this artificial rift between left and right that has exploded under Bush. The direction things are going, both sides feel a sort of "with us or against us" mentality (which Bush has even said explicitly). But we all share more in common than we realize. The categorical divisions need to end, and that's the most important thing. Bush is a divider, and the American nation is hurting because of it. Dean is a uniter, and a healer.

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