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This Content From 2003 (or earlier) see index

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Why I Support Howard Dean Over Dennis Kucinich

Many progressive people who I know are supporting Dennis Kucinich for president. While I'm glad Dennis is getting people involved, and he seems like a very nice man with a lot of worthwhile goals, I can't support his candidacy for president, especially not over Howard Dean.

My reasons are many, but essentially boil down to the intuitive feeling that I've heard everything Dennis Kucinich has to say many times before, and I haven't seen it do very much real good in the world. From where I sit, the progressive cause has been an abject failure over the past 30 years. It is an establishment in its own right -- frankly a reactionary one at this point -- and Kucinich (to me) represents this.

Howard Dean represents something different; a modern, fact-based, 21st-century progressive message. To me, he is the reality of Bill Clinton's promises. He is what I want to see more of from my parents' generation. But I digress; you can read my reasons for liking Dean enumerated at length on my Dean memes page and on my original endorsement page.

With all due credit and respect to Bob Harris and the good DDF people who responded to his original work, I've created my own point-by-point Dean/Kucinich rundown. Bob's words are worth echoing again here: "I'm not an expert, just a guy trying to figure this out. I'll try to correct any mistakes brought to my attention, but I do make them. Do your own research and thinking."

Dean vs. Kucinich

  Dean Kucinich
Political Pedigree Started as state legislator. Elected lieutenant governor (a part-time job in VT) in 1986. Became governor in 1991 with the death of then-Governor Richard Snelling. In politics since adolescence. Was "boy mayor" of Cleveland. Used racially divisive tactics in early political career.
Campaign History Started in mid 2002 with the realization that the US was headed in the wrong direction and that the Democratic party wasn't going to save the day on its own. Not pursuing any other office. Started in early 2003, concurrent with existing congressional campaign.
Waffle Factor Switched positions on needle exchange programs after seeing statistics. Switched positions on abortion right before announcing presidential candidacy.
Spirituality Congregationalist. Medical Doctor. "Tired of fundamentalist preachers." One-time Catholic. Now endorses New Age spirituality.
Policies Series of attainable goals which redress the most serious issues facing the nation today. Series of highly idealistic goals.
Movement Massive grassroots support includes a huge number of people not previously involved in the political process. Established progressives.

What about the issues?

So far it's been pretty qualitative stuff. So let's get to the nitty gritty of the issues, shall we? My overall opinion is that Dean offers a series of innovative, intelligent, pragmatic, politically apt and progressively minded stances. Kucinich, again in my humble opinion, offers the standard establishment-progressive party line. Here's more of a point-by-point rundown.

Iraq War Opposed as not helping the war on terror and based on being a waste of time, money, life and opportunity. Opposed on pacifistic grounds.
Gay Rights Signed unpopular civil unions law months prior to gubernatorial re-election bid. Wore bullet-proof vest for remainder of campaign. Would author national legislation making a civil union formed in any state valid in any other. Supports gay marriage.
Energy Supports renewable energy as a means of creating jobs, preventing environmental degradation and as a foreign-policy imperative. Supports renewable energy.
War on Drugs Calls it a failure. Addiction is a medical problem. Will have FDA thorough and independent review medical marijuana and indorse their findings. Advocates european-style treatment over imprisonment. Supports medical marijuana.
Gun Control Supports closing loopholes in gun registration. As governor said that since Vermont didn't have a gun violence problem, he saw no reason for further legislation. Supports federal gun control legislation, and sponsored a bill calling for child safety devices on all new handguns.
Balanced Budget Unless budgets are balanced, government programs and actions are not sustainable. The basis for social justice must be sustainable, and as such must come from a balanced budget. A long term goal.
Kyoto Supports; says it needs to address the developing world in addition to the "G8" nations. Supports.
Health Care Proposes plan modeled in Vermont which expands existing programs to cover Americans who need it. Notes that larger-scale health-care legislation falls victim to the congressional process and fails to help people in need. Supports large-scale Canadian-style health care plan.

Again, I don't think Kucinich is a bad person or any more of a manipulator than any other politician. I simply feel that he is treading a well worn path with a well-known outcome: failure. He's a good man to have in the legislature, but a waste of valuable time and energy as a presidential candidate.

This is, by the way, and for various reasons, also my current opinion of John Edwards, John Kerry, Richard Gephardt and Joe Lieberman. I would vote for any of these people over Bush, but I do not realistically see any of them turning the nation around in the manner that Howard Dean seems capable of doing.

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Trips in Space and Time 8/02/03

Big Wheels in Berkeley
I scored a set of west-coast wheels today at the Ashby BART station flea market. It's a very tall schwinn road bike, black, deceptively heavy but smooth-riding. Thirty-five dollars to boot. I oiled and cleaned the works, dialed in the bakes and took it out for a shake-down cruise immediately. Nice riding on a beautiful saturday, realizing how out of shape I am as I wheezed my way though the hilly area behind the Berkeley campus.

After about an hour I started to get the swing of it. Made some minor mechanical adjustments (including a free wheel truing at the bike collective on Shattuck), drank a few liters of water and started finding my groove, cruising up and around and ending up with a beautiful view of the whole bay. The roads here are not kind to the speed inclined -- too many stop signs and crosswalks and lights -- but it was good to get out and proj for a while. This changes my summer dramatically.

...older trips...


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