Why I’m not voting for Kucinich

My last post caught the attention of some Kucinich supporters and quickly garnered the most comments that I have received in a single day…um…4 from 3 different commenters.  Obviously, it wasn’t something that was hotly circling the web, but it was a busy post by my standards.

So, as long as I am receiving a trickle of traffic from Kucinich supporters such as this one, I feel that it would be a good idea to explain my reasons for not supporting Dennis Kucinich.  That way, the next time a Kucinich supporter such as Tom calls me a “tool of the mass media”, they can actually have substance to back that assertion up.

I will start out by saying that I do not find Kucinich to be outright distasteful and I don’t think that he should be marginalized from the debates as he has been.  Candidates for a public office should have an even forum to express their views and share why they think themselves worthy for the job, regardless of their fundraising or current popularity.

But I do think there are some serious issues with Kucinich’s candidacy.  The first and most obvious one is tactical:  Kucinich would get shredded in a general election.  While Kucinich’s positions are favorable to the left-wing of the Democratic Party, they will not appeal to some of the more moderate sections of the Democratic Party and certainly not independents or Republicans.  While Bush’s lack of popularity means that the 2008 election is the Democrats’ to lose, the tide would most certainly turn back in the Republicans’ favor if Kucinich were to win the primary election.

If you want a more concrete example of the issues Kucinich would lose on, take some where I agree with him in at least a few ways.  He and I both support same-sex marriage.  But there is a large swath of the population, some of which are in the Democratic Party, who are strongly opposed to it.  According to this CBS News article, a majority of Americans favor an amendment to the Constitution prohibiting gay marriage.  So, as it stands now, a candidate favoring same-sex marriage will have difficulty in the general election.

But it’s not just gay marriage that would bring him down in a general election.  The fact that he’s a vegan, his single-payer health plan, and that he has consistently voted against funding the Iraq War (something I opposed from the start as well) will further serve the interests of his Republican opponent.  Using these positions and his words, Republicans would easily paint Kucinich as a “socialist hippie peacenik”.  In fact, they could probably go without running a single dishonest negative ad (which, in reality, they would run vigorously) and still win the election by a landslide, perhaps taking the House and Senate with them.  A vote for Kucinich in the primary is a vote for the Republican Party in the general election.

A second aspect that drives me away from supporting Kucinich is that he doesn’t seem to have a pragmatic bone in his body…he is an ardent ideologue.  While parts of his ideology may be similar to mine such has his opposition to the War in Iraq, which I remember protesting before it started, and his stance on same-sex marriage as well as his basic view of equal treatment under the law, I know that unless one is willing to compromise, those stances are meaningless, because most of them won’t get past Congress.

He may try to put forward a single-payer universal health plan, but given the colossal failure of a much less radical plan forwarded by Hillary Clinton during the first term of the Clinton administration, which still kept the private insurance business in the picture after being branded by some as “socialist”, it’s hard to see a single-payer plan, which really is socialist (though not necessarily bad), passing through Congress.  It is true that there is more need for health care reform than there was during the Clinton years, which means that it is more likely that a compromise plan such as those of Barack Obama or John Edwards will pass, but a single-payer plan would be dead as soon as it was drafted.

A good President should be able to justly represent the whole nation, not just those who voted for him.  This is something the Bush administration hasn’t done, and it’s something that I cannot see a Kucinich administration doing either (though Kucinich would probably be listening to the people Bush didn’t).  That weakens the faith I have in him as a potential leader.

Lastly, there are issues where I disagree with Kucinich.  One of the things he wants to do is withdraw from NAFTA and the WTO.  This is a rather extreme position that caters to elements in unions, environmentalist groups, and human rights groups.  This is not to say that the interest these groups have in bringing down free trade agreements isn’t worth attention, but the idea of withdrawing from NAFTA and the WTO seems to be folly.

We should perhaps modify the terms of NAFTA and change our stances when we go before the WTO, but trade is something that helps both the US economy and the economies of those with whom we trade.  Withdrawing from those organizations is not in US interest because it hurts our economy and goes further to weaken the world economy, which makes other countries less stable.

In the end, I think that Kucinich is not running for President…instead he is running his issues before the nation to help promote a discussion of items we have missed as a result of poor campaign finance regulation, lack of government transparency, and lack of voter confidence in government.  It’s good that he points out issues such as the wrongful banning of hemp, the non-drug cousin to marijuana, as well as some of this nation’s silly attitudes toward same-sex marriage.

Being a sideline candidate for President in a primary election might not give you a “bully pulpit” as Teddy Roosevelt called it, but it is a good pulpit and I hope that Kucinich continues to use it in the elections to come.  However, I will not vote for him because I see a much better candidate in Barack Obama, who has a good chance of winning a general election, has a good pragmatic instinct that gets done what needs to be done, and gives a good showing on the issues that matter to me.

If these issues make me a “tool of the mass media” then so be it.

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About Meng Bomin

Real name Benjamin Main, I am a graduate of Grinnell College with a degree in Biological Chemistry.
This entry was posted in Opinions, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Why I’m not voting for Kucinich

  1. Tom says:

    Paraphrasing your entry: Drop the Zero, get with the Hero, even if you agree with the Zero on the issues.

  2. rhylynd says:

    very precise and well thought out reasoning. unfortunately for us, this is exactly the mode of thinking and the attitude that the puppet masters want the general population, the “sheep” of america to have.

    the mass media, has been consolidated. in 1996, the lobbied for, and received legislation that allowed them to control the attitudes and beliefs of the american populace.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telecommunications_Act_of_1996

    now, the majority of the populations thoughts and ideals are controlled by a handful of powerful men that are at the head of a handful of giant corporations. large media conglomerates include Disney, National Amusements, Time Warner, News Corp, Bertelsmann AG, Sony, General Electric, Vivendi SA and Lagardère Group. these powerful men produce information that is primarily concerned with controlling the american population to do what is in the best interest of their corporations and their stock holders, NOT what is in the best interest of the american people.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concentration_of_media_ownership

    these men belong to such groups as the council on foreign relations, the tri-lateral commission, and the bilderburg group. these ARE NOT democratically elected groups, these are elitist groups, that have memberships by INVITE ONLY. they have secret meetings, with agendas that are not made public to the american people.

    if you actually think that dennis kucinich is NOT a serious candidate, and he is only running to raise public awareness, then you don’t really understand what is going on in american politics. the goal for REAL conservatives is to get ron paul nominated. the goal for REAL liberals is to get denni kucinich nominated. that way, we know, who ever wins the general election, the real winners are the american people, and the real losers are the corporate-military-industrial elitites that have hijaked this country since the creation of the federal reserve a hundred years ago.

    “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

  3. Ben says:

    Tom:

    Paraphrasing your entry: Drop the Zero, get with the Hero, even if you agree with the Zero on the issues.

    Not so much. Gay marriage is one issue where I agree with Kucinich in principle more than I agree with Obama. However, that is one issue and not necessarily a good representation of my views overall.

    I do not agree with Kucinich on every issue, as I said with regard to the WTO and NAFTA, which probably need reworking, but not outright dismissal. However, I do like have an ideological candidate to raise issues that would otherwise be missed by the media. It helps in some small way to improve the national debate about such issues.

    My view that his input in the process is good does not mean that I support his views on all these topics. I also favor having Ron Paul’s views reach a broader audience. This is not because I am a libertarian, but because I think a national discussion of the issues beyond the typical partisan back-and-forth would be a real boon to politics in this nation.

  4. Ben says:

    rhylynd:
    I’m no fan of media consolidation in America, nor am I a fan of the transformation of news from informational to entertainment. It’s one of the reasons I like to use BBC News as a news source as well as the multiple sources provided for stories on Google News. I won’t deny, however, that ideas from the major corporate media outlets have not influenced my thinking. I certainly don’t live in isolation.

    if you actually think that dennis kucinich is NOT a serious candidate, and he is only running to raise public awareness, then you don’t really understand what is going on in american politics. the goal for REAL conservatives is to get ron paul nominated. the goal for REAL liberals is to get denni kucinich nominated. that way, we know, who ever wins the general election, the real winners are the american people, and the real losers are the corporate-military-industrial elitites that have hijaked this country since the creation of the federal reserve a hundred years ago.

    Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul are candidates with what I can see as strong, consistent ideological values, and it’s not surprising that they would attract a following, especially among those who make up the “conversational media”, as John Battelle calls it, because such users represent a more independently thinking group with stronger ideological principles.

    But the fact remains that Kucinich and Paul, despite their appeal to their followers, stand little chance of even winning the primary, much less the general election. While it’s not fun to admit it, the corporate media in America hold the keys to the election because they hold the message that the majority of the American public will hear. If Kucinich doesn’t represent a major part of that message, it is difficult to imagine him passing through the primaries will little more than a few delegates and the same goes for Paul.

    While it’s fun to be optimistic and pretend that the rather high Internet support that both Kucinich and Paul enjoy will translate into votes at the polls and caucuses, one has to realize that the demographic of this new conversational media is actually a rather small minority and will likely be drowned out by the more moderate, if less well informed views of the average American.

    While they may have some celebrity status some places on the Internet, their actual support base doesn’t match up to the more well-funded candidates. I hate to the bearer of bad news, but while you may try to get them elected, they have little chance against the better funded, better organized campaigns of those candidates that have gotten media exposure.

  5. Pingback: The Issue « Meng Bomin

  6. Mike says:

    I totally understand your line of reasoning. I vehemently disagree with you for following it, but I do understand it.

    To best make my point, in an over-dramatic fashion, let me just say that I’m glad people like Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela didn’t think the way you do 🙂

  7. Ben says:

    Malcolom X and Nelson Mandela were not running for POTUS. Their situations were different than this one, so the line of reasoning I am using here does not apply to their situations. Kucinich may serve well as a catalyst for ideas, he does not serve well as an actual Presidential candidate.

  8. Mike says:

    “Malcolom X and Nelson Mandela were not running for POTUS”

    And neither are you. You’ve confused my point.

  9. Ben says:

    And neither are you. You’ve confused my point.

    Au contraire, I believe you have confused mine. I am thinking as a voter electing Democratic candidate for President. My thinking, as expressed in the post, is completely orthogonal to the situations of Malcolm X and Nelson Mandela. They are irrelevant to this issue. I was merely trying to point that out.

  10. Mike says:

    Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree then.

    Best of luck in the future.

  11. Val says:

    Consider this argument (written by R. Traister):
    “Actually, historically it can be shown that it is the extremes of the party that drive and determine the political debate and have far more influence on actual policy than the candidates who win. So voting for Kucinich is not crazy, but rather one of the most relevant things you can do.

    This is one of the basic misunderstandings of most voters about the strategic significance of their vote. Issues like environmentalism, social security, medicare, pensions, workers compensation, all started as third party issues and in the case of the latter four as the issues of a perennial socialist candidate for president, Eugene V. Debs, in the early part of the 20th century. (FDR eventually stole his platform and enacted all his ideas.)

    The third party positions or extremes within one of the major parties introduce ideas which the mainstream candidates eventually appropriate and which then become policy. The major candidates rarely have any ideas that are their own.

    This is how the religious right, a small minority in the Republican party, came to be so powerful. They voted for the extreme and were willing to see Republicans lose elections. Eventually the Republican party moved to the right and took the Democratic party with it.

    In the long run, voting for Kucinich has the most strategic potential power. The more people support his points of view, even if he loses, the more other candidates will adopt his ideas and the more they have the potential to become actual policy. Democrats always make the mistake of looking at the short run, thinking of how they can win now, and the long run result is the disjunction between Democratic values and Democratic candidates that Traister describes. (And the Democratic candidates often still don’t win.)

    The policies that get adopted as law have little to do with who actually wins elections. Politics is not about who wins, but voters (especially Democrats) don’t get this.”

    http://letters.salon.com/opinion/feature/2007/11/05/kucinich/view/index18.html

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