17 March 2010

Kucinich Settles

Dennis Kucinich stands near the tip of the "left wing" of the Democratic party. As an antiwar candidate for the Presidential nomination in 2008 he was his party's equivalent of Ron Paul, except that the antiwar Republican somehow got a lot more support than the antiwar Democrat in the primaries. Rep. Kucinich has held out against his party's health care reform plan because, by his progressive standards, it was nowhere near good enough for Americans' needs. But after considerable buttering up, including a ride on Air Force One, this man of apparent principle has reversed his position and come out in favor of the current legislation. His reasoning is regrettably partisan, though he disguises the fact by professing personal loyalty to the President.

"You do have to be very careful that the potential of President Obama's presidency not be destroyed by this debate....Even though I have many differences with him on policy, there's something much bigger at stake here for America."

Whatever we may think of Obama's potential at this point, we can still ask whether Kucinich's first responsibility is to the Obama presidency or to his constituents, whether defined narrowly as the people of his district or broadly as all those nationwide who look to Kucinich as a principled leader. Just as Ron Paul's principles are compromised by his dependence upon the Republican Party, Kucinich's are likewise compromised to the point that he now settles for a plan he had deemed inadequate for the good of the President and their common party. There's space enough between the lines of his remarks for us to see that what's "at stake" for Kucinich is maintaining Democratic rule and preventing a Republican takeover at all costs. On this blog I've defined the essence of conservatism as the demand that people settle for whatever the powerful tell them is all they can ask for. By that standard, Dennis Kucinich is today a conservative Democrat.

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