Monday, May 24, 2004


Dear Reader,

I met Dennis Kucinich this evening. Shook his hand. Looked him in the eye. Handed him a BushWhackedUSA business card. He chuckled, nodded, said, "Thanks."

Kucinich--no, he prefers to be called Dennis, so...--Dennis came to Missoula on Monday evening to speak to several hundred people at the gorgeous, crowded Wilma Theater. He is campaigning here for the Montana vote. We host the final state primary in the nation, and Dennis wants Montana voters to send the Democratic party a message, going into the primary. I'll spare you the Kucinich platform (but you can visit his home page if you're curious).

Before his speech, he held a small press conference in a side room at The Wilma. I weaseled my way into the back row, claiming my status as co-editor of BushWhackedUSA. For some odd reason the local woman in charge of the affair made me promise not to ask any questions, and to leave them for the "mainstream press." Well, I waited until the end, anyway.

I asked Dennis how a candidate for peace would defend the U.S. from terrorists. His answer was simple, straightforward, and three-pronged: 1) cooperate with the international community, 2) address the root causes of terrorism, and 3) speak the truth. He wondered aloud why, during weeks of testimony with the 9/11 commission, one question was never asked: Why did this happen? He said it was important for Americans to be honest with ourselves about our role in creating the circumstances that lead to terrorism.

Later, in his passionate, rousing speech, Kucinich advanced a bold, clear vision for a cabinet-level Department of Peace, for a single-payer health care system that covers all Americans, for environmental responsibility, for education. He made it clear that he's still in the race because he wants to give liberal, pro-peace Democrats a voice at the convention. He's working hard to do that. He'd rather see the Democratic Party open up its umbrella and bring in the Greens, Libertarians, reformers, and fair traders. He communicated something I've seen and felt far too little of in this election (or any): hope.

Tonight I was inspired by Dennis, and I won't soon forget it.

A few minutes after I met him, he entered the packed auditorium, walked down the aisle to a standing ovation, and stopped next to my beloved, who happens to be eight and a half months pregnant with my child. Dennis looked at her belly, then at her and said, "Congratulations! Good luck!" It was a small gesture from a small man with only a small chance at having a big impact on this election; but that small gesture represents, for me, exactly the direction I'd love to see this country's leadership go: attention to detail, compassion for our children, and expressions of loving kindness.

Thanks for your time...

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