by Paula Morris
Former Graham resident Dennis Kucinich, now a Democrat from Ohio in his 8th term as a U.S. Congressman, spoke at a fundraiser in his honor at the IBEW hall in Tacoma Friday evening.
The event coordinator, Todd Iverson, facilitated a smoothly run town hall-type meeting, and insured that the 60 or so attendees had time for questions and answers.
Since Congressman Kucinich is a vegan, his non-animal product regimen was followed and the event was served with vegetable and fruit trays, along with vegan sandwiches and brownies - which were enjoyed by all.
Mr. Kucinich opened the evening by mingling with attendees, shaking hands and chatting amiably before beginning his speech. It was apparent from the crowd’s positive response that this gesture was greatly appreciated.
Prior to his election as a congressman from Cleveland, Kucinich told the audience that he had lived in Pierce County in the Graham area for about a year in 1982. During this time he first developed his passion for nature and conservation.
Preservation of nature is a world obligation, Mr. Kucinich declared. In Graham he began to see the world as an organized whole and believes that peace goes hand in hand with conservation.
According to Mr. Kucinich, peace is an inevitability if there is social and economic justice.
The congressman also told the crowd that his wife, Elizabeth, was on Bainbridge Island as a co-chair of a meeting with indigenous elders to talk of “elder wisdom.” Both of the Kucinichs deeply respect the indigenous tribal culture, and Mr. Kucinich said he would be joining his wife at the Bainbridge gathering later in the evening.
After his remarks, the meeting was opened to questions from attendees.
Question: “What do you think about the fact that General Petraeus will head the CIA?”
D.K.: “The defense department is becoming less and less transparent. There are more drones, more involvement in aggressive warfare. We need to ask ourselves what kind of a nation we have become. The people appointed to these institutions, like the CIA, certainly don’t look like they are about to change tactics.”
Question: “Can you comment on corporate personhood? In fact, I would like to announce that May 18 a community forum will be held at the UW-Tacoma campus, room BH 106 at12:30 p.m. to discuss changing the constitution to disallow corporate personhood.”
D.K: “Thank you for that announcement and yes, certainly our country has been taken over by corporate interests. That law was passed so long ago, allowing a corporation to be considered a person. It is outdated and needs to be addressed.”
Question: “Can you comment on nuclear power?”
D.K: “Nuclear power is so bad that Wall Street won’t invest in it. Thirty years ago, I was active in fighting against the placement of two power plants along fault lines. A few years ago I established a Department of Peace. This needs to be a national movement with resources made available to properly fund it. Nuclear power is dangerous and the waste by-products are just as dangerous.”
Question: “Any ideas how to tap into the young energy out there?”
D.K: “I think the best way is social interaction – people meeting people. That’s where the power is, in the ‘social media.’ This is happening in Egypt right now. The people’s non-violent revolution is powerful. It’s not just the young who have energy. Baby-Boomers still have it. They have the energy to ‘bring up’ the younger generation.”
Question: “What do you think of the Bradley Manning situation?”
D.K: “I think what is happening to him is an attempt to break him, to then get him to confess to anything. It’s not happenstance. Given that our government is less and less transparent – do you think it might be in our national interest to ‘lie?’ As a nation, we need to go back to town hall meetings where we could make known what our priorities as a nation should be. A nation with 15 million people unemployed is a problem for Democracy.”
Question: “What do you think about what is going on in Vermont in regard to health care?”
D.K: “Vermont has established single-payer health care. This is something that needs to be replicated across the Nation. When I spoke to President Obama about the need to change the health care system from a privatized one to a public one, he would not even talk about a not for profit health care system. I saw how I had to choose to either be at odds with the President or try to create a bridge.”
In closing, Dennis Kucinich spoke of how his home state of Ohio is losing two congressional districts this year due to the reduction in its population. Mr. Kucinich said that those behind the resulting redistricting by the Ohio legislature are bankers, real estate people, and utilities – “all of my friends. They’re all coming together in a celebration of ‘not me.’ This of course leaves me without a district.”
Nevertheless, Dennis Kucinich is resolute: “I intend to stay in Congress. I just don’t know where my district will be.”
© 2011 Paula Morris