Six-term Ohio Congressman and 2004 presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has been one of Congress’ most vocal and long-standing opponents of the Iraq War. In an interview with Joshua Scheer of Truthdig.com, Kucinich explains why he again has his sights set on the Oval Office.
What made you decide to run?
Someone has to rally the American people, to let them know that the money is there right now to bring our troops home. Democrats were put in power in November to chart a new direction in Iraq. It’s inconceivable that having been given the constitutional responsibility to guide the fortunes of America in a new direction, that Democratic leaders would respond by supporting the Administration’s call for up to $160 billion in new funding for the war in Iraq.
For me this is a call of conscience to stand up and speak out about what’s going on–to let the American people know that the money is there to bring our troops home now, that we need to begin now to take a new direction in Iraq, and that to pass a supplemental in the spring for another $160 billion would keep the war going until the end of George Bush’s term. Someone needs to stand up and speak out, and I decided it was my responsibility as the person who has been consistently opposed to this war since its inception, who has been a leader in challenging this thinking that led to war, that I would stand up and rally Democrats to change the course that the party has embarked on with respect to continued funding of the war.
This is obviously your major issue, but what other issues are you going to base your campaign on?
We have to take these things in sequence. From now until the spring, this is the issue: $160 billion is more than three times what the federal education budget is. This is a huge amount of money, and all the other hopes we have as Democrats to create a new agenda for the American people in housing, in healthcare, in education, are going to be destroyed by the Administration’s request for $160 billion.
So does that mean I’m a one-issue candidate? Of course not. I’m prepared to lead this country forward to create a universal, single-payer, not-for-profit healthcare system. I’m prepared to lead the way towards policies of environmental sustainability, to develop advanced technologies for alternative energy, for clean energy.
This campaign is about three imperatives: It’s about the imperative of human unity, of recognizing that this is one world, that we are all one, that people all around the world have an underlying connection, that we are interconnected and interdependent. And we need policies that act that interconnection. We need to affirm institutions which support the idea of human unity. And that means that we support the United Nations. It means we support treaties in working with other countries. It means we support the rule of law internationally.
The second imperative is human security, and that security has to deal with basic needs: Each person in the world has a right to survive, a right to food that is fit to eat, and water fit to drink, and air fit to breathe. Each person has a right to a roof over his or her own head. Each person has a right to have clothes on their back. Each person has a right to some means of being able to make a living. Each person has a right to be free of the fear of violence. We have a responsibility to work to secure the world from a nuclear nightmare. We need to look at what we can do to protect peoples everywhere by working for not just nonproliferation, not just disarmament, but nuclear abolition, which in fact was the promise of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.