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January 7, 2008

Kucinich for President? Yeah, I think so.

If you haven’t noticed this about me, I love my country. As the Massachusetts primaries approach on Feb. 5th, I still hadn’t decided which candidate I was behind. I kept waiting for Al Gore to announce, but he never did, so I was stuck. I have reservations about Hillary Clinton. I have reservations about Barack Obama, similar reservations about their health care plans, actually. I didn’t know enough about John Edwards, and then who else was there? I was a little interested in a Republican’s advertisements, Ron Paul, but I decided it was time to get educated.

Dennis Kucinich, the peace candidate, the guy who says he wants to defend the Constitution, caught my eye. Well, they all say that, but that’s what catches my attention these days. The Constitution is more than “a goddamned piece of paper” as our President has called it. I’d like to see it supported for a change.

So I went to the Kucinich web site and liked what I read. Then I joined the mailing list. Got an e-mail this morning saying there would be a rally today in Concord, NH, right before the primaries. Oh, yeah, Viggo Mortensen would be there. I asked my husband if he was interested, and he said he’d like to see an American political rally. Mortensen got my son’s vote, but then he’s only 17, so it’s the only vote he’s getting.Enlisted to hold a sign

The last American political rally I went to was in 1968. I was seven, and my grandmother brought me to see Robert F. Kennedy campaigning in Brewster, NY. He was late; I was brought home and never saw one of my great political heroes. A few months later, he was gone.

So I listened to Kucinich, and I liked what I heard. He was saying the same thing about health care that I was thinking. Making health insurance mandatory doesn’t help the poor. Then it’s a decision between food and medical care. Massachusetts has mandatory health care, and I think it’s wrong. There should be some kind of subsidized health care if you’re going to have that kind of mandate, or else you’re just doing a favor for the big insurance companies.

I was impressed with him, and even more impressed with his wife, Elizabeth Kucinich. All I knew about her from the media was she had a pierced tongue. You know, the important stuff. She also has a BA in Religious Studies and Theology and an MA in International Conflict Resolution. When she was 18 she went off to India to work at one of Mother Theresa’s shelters for the poorest of the poor, and she’s done volunteer work as a refugee caseworker for the British Red Cross. She’s worked for the poor and disenfranchised all of her adult life. And she’s still only 30.

After the short speeches, I wanted to shake hands with the candidate. I wanted to feel his vibe myself. That might sound a little flaky, but as a reporter, when talking to politicians I learned to trust the vibe thing. First I had a few words with Elizabeth Kucinich. She’s poised, confident, with a keen intelligence shining in her eyes. She’s also devastatingly beautiful. She graciously posed for a picture with me.Elizabeth Kucinich and me

I worked my way to the candidate himself. By this point, I was very intrigued. Unfortunately, this was a busy weekend, and it looked like I wasn’t going to get the chance. A man came up behind me to get an autograph and I was about to walk away when Congressman Kucinich put his hand on my arm and stayed me.

When he was done signing, he turned to me, and I told him, “I’ve found the man I’m going to vote for.”

He thanked me and smiled, then I told him that I haven’t been to a political rally since RFK. I wasn’t just making idle chit chat. As I’ve said, RFK is one of my heroes. Sure, he was flawed; he was human. But he gave people hope. I want to feel that hope again.

I felt it when Clinton was elected. I was ready for change, welcomed it, and felt good about my country’s future again. But he left me and the rest of the country terribly disillusioned for many, many reasons.

Being an eternal optimist, I want to feel it again. I want my country to be as great as I know it can be. I told the Congressman about RFK because I wanted to let him know what I was investing in this.

He looked at me and said. “That is so moving.” He paused, still looking right in my eyes. Then he said, “I’m so touched. Can I hug you?”

So I hugged him. And he told me a story that I won’t share here. Not political, about someone he knew. Then he said he’d sign an autograph for me and asked me to spread the word.hugging

So here I am. I am a good judge of people. I’m a trained listener and as a college professor and writer, I get lied to on a regular basis. I have that gift Hemingway said writers need: a built-in, fool-proof shit detector. I wasn’t hearing shit today.

Dennis Kucinich is a dedicated true believer, and he will get my vote in the primary. He would make a good president. He has ideas to help this country be what it can be. His wife has the potential to be the best First Lady we’ve had since Eleanor Roosevelt. They are the real deal.

I’ve already written to ABC news to complain that he was cut from the televised debates. More on that tomorrow. My husband and I watched the news tonight, the only channel that sent a reporter, and Kucinich wasn’t on the air. Even with a sound bite from Viggo Mortensen! The media is muzzling the elections and making it hard for Americans to make an informed choice. The news covered five candidates: Clinton, Obama and Edwards, McCain and Romney. They showed the three Democrats on their poll, but five Republicans. As I say, more on that tomorrow.

But check out Kucinich. Don’t let the big media companies give you tunnel vision. If you like what he says, great! If you don’t, that’s great, too, because at least you made an informed decision. But in a recent independent poll, Kucinich got 77% of the vote–a far cry from what the corporate media would have you believe.

Oh, and Viggo Mortensen was a treat, too. Erudite, passionate, intelligent. Soft-spoken, but angry as all get out at ABC, and I liked to see that.

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