Friday, 12 November 2004

Letter from Dennis Kucinich

Thirteen months ago Dennis Kucinich spoke on my island, and fired me up about what might yet be possible in American politics. Sure I realized that if a vegan who talked about forming the "Department of Peace" ended up being the standard bearer for the Democrats there would be many who would try to make him into a laughingstock, and probably successfully. But in person he had intellect, appeal, and integrity that demanded my support. So launched my political year. Thank you Dennis!

His email letter mass mailed to all of us on his list stands as one of the nicer post election commentaries I've read. He will probably never be electable to national office, but those who dismiss him as a simple ideologue have only watched him reduced to brief sound bites in debates or clips from stump speeches. Here's his letter:

Hi everyone, Dennis here. Welcome to part of my library. I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking in these past 24 hours since we have seen the outcome of the election - so different than what we had hoped for.

I have to admit, myself, to being surprised that John Kerry lost the election. I did everything I could to try to make it possible for America to take a new direction - even to the point of beginning my own presidential candidacy almost two years ago.

All of us in the Kucinich campaign poured ourselves into John Kerry's campaign so that America could make a new beginning - and I've heard from so many of you around the country expressing great concern about this outcome, and asking, "Where do we go from here?"

This is a critical moment, where everything we believe in is being tested, and everything we stand for and hope for remains on the line. George Bush will have another four years in the White House. We can predict the direction he'll take this country and the world.

But what we also need to be able to predict is what we shall do. What our intention is for this country, the world, the role that we hope to play. Because, certainly, the feelings of anger and even depression which abound in so many of the circles that so many of us move in - despite that anger and depression we have to see things as they are and move beyond this moment to create some new possibilities in America.

Because, while George Bush is certainly going to have a lot to say about what happens in the next four years, he's not the only one.

You, I and those with whom we've worked over the last few years have the opportunity to participate in creating a whole new dialog in America and the world. We may not have the kind of momentum we had hoped for, which we hoped a Kerry victory would bring, but we do have our own courage - and our own quality of heart - which will hold us in good stead in what will surely be some very challenging times ahead.

I think we need to go through this period of grieving over the election, and then we have to get ready to bring some closure and move on, and go to a place of real action again, of real heart-centered action, of willingness to take on the challenges which this administration is bringing to our nation and the world.

We need to rededicate ourselves to working for peace. Not just further empowering the anti-war movement, but to look at peace as a creative endeavor, where we bring ourselves into working for peace in our relationships, in our communities.

The Department of Peace becomes ever more imperative. And the eleven states whose Democratic delegations took a strong stand in favor of a Department of Peace will be focal points of all our efforts to get congressional delegations to begin to sign on in support of this concept, which is aimed at making non-violence an organizing principle in our society. If there was ever a time when we needed that approach, it's now.

On health care: in many states across this country, new iniatives are being aimed at the state level to help develop a kind of a universal health care approach within a state. People in Oregon tried it a few years ago and I think they're going to come back. There's a burgeoning effort in the state of Ohio. We need to look and see what we can do to promote health care in this country, and to get people organized around it.

The environment: we know this administration is not going to be good for the environment - but we also know that we have the opportunity to push forward, at every level, development of alternative energies.

You know, we're looking at soaring natural gas prices in the next few months. This gives us some leverage to get popular support for an effort to develop energy alternatives. (As if we didn't need that - get that - with the higher gas prices.) But we know with the oil companies having a resurgence in political power with the re-election of George Bush, it gives us also the ability to galvanize public support for the development of alternative energy.

There'll be so many things that we can talk about in the days ahead. But I just wanted to take a few moments of your time to remind you that, while it would appear that so much was lost on election night, so much remains for us to do. We have to be firm in our resolve. We have to remember the commitments that brought us into this contest. That it wasn't just about John Kerry - it was about us. It was about our hopes, our dreams, our intentions to create a better nation and a better world. Those commitments remain. They help to empower us daily.

So, let's grieve over the loss of this election, but let's come together and realize that it's the unity that we have expressed over these last few years which gives us real power to bring forth creative change. That, even in this moment of seeming political darkness, we can find some light - and that light is within each of us.

This isn't the first time in our nation's history that we've seen bitter divisiveness - it was in 1865 in March that Abraham Lincoln faced a nation that was horribly divided in a civil war with massive casualties. And in his second inaugural address, Lincoln said these words: "With malice toward none, with charity for all." He gave us a lesson that's valid in our times - not to get pulled into the bitterness and the divisiveness - to still be heartfelt in our communications - to at some point separate ourselves from the anger which we all feel and to move past it, to try and connect with each other once again - through the heart.

This campaign, for us, began with an understanding of the world being interconnected and interdependent. It is our connection to all people that causes us to achieve a higher level of compassion.

So let's remember Lincoln's words - and let's remember our own resolve. And let's make sure that when we begin a new chapter in the politics of this nation, we come forward with ever more resolve, ever more courage, ever more heart, ever more of a spiritual approach - that will enable us to be better-prepared to help create this new world that we know is just waiting to be called forward.

So, thank you - thank you for participating in this election. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of John Kerry and thank you for still believing that we can come together through a collective effort to achieve a transformation of our social and political structures.

We must never yield to disappointment and to discouragement, because we build our victories for tomorrow from today's defeats.

So, I look forward to continuing our ongoing discussions. You'll be able to watch a lot of activity at - there are going to be a lot of exciting things happening on this Web site.

I hope to speak with you soon - and if I don't talk to you before Thanksgiving, I hope that you and your families have much to be thankful for in your own lives and loves, notwithstanding this unfortunate result of the election.

Thank you, and thanks to John Kerry, Teresa Heinz Kerry, John Edwards, Elizabeth Edwards and their families for giving this nation an opportunity for hope again, and for showing us a level of decency that reflects well on the potential that all of us have to touch our fellow citizens.

Thanks, and good day.

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