Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dennis the Menace

Earlier this week T sent me an article from Salon, entitled Stop Lying to Yourself. You Love Dennis Kucinich.

I, in fact, am not lying to myself at all. I voted for Dennis Kucinich in the last Democratic primary, knowing, of course, that the former boy mayor had no chance in hell. That has never mattered to me at all. Presidential politics bore me to tears. The whole election cycle seems like a spectacularly dull and crooked show, and I am positive that no one I really like could ever win.* Anyone I would like would be way too threatening to the rich. I could get a lot more excited about a good school board election.

But yes, just as the article says, Dennis and I pretty much agree on the issues. And not only that.

When I was a child growing up in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland, Dennis (or Dennis the Menace, as he was often called) was Cleveland's mayor. Then, as now, Cleveland was half-ruined, and going further downhill from there, and Dennis was seen as the young fool who drove the city into even more ruin.

I remember Dennis exuding a strange fascination for me, just by being such a strikingly weird personality in a pretty boring place and time. Only later did I learn that much of the controversy around his mayoralty was about public power. Dennis refused to privatize the municipal power company, and the local bank, who stood to gain, retaliated by cutting off the city's credit.

It turned out that resisting privatization was--surprise--a bright move, which saved the city an estimated $195 million over ten years. And it also turned out that, after Dennis spent the eighties making, like, $38 a year and living with his friend Shirley MacLaine, Clevelanders realized that, and elected him to Congress, and continue to elect him over and over again, though he is way more progressive and vegan granola-ish than 99% of the people I have ever met in Cleveland.

I may be making it seem like Dennis is my hero. It's not that, really. Dennis is a pretty silly, new-agey guy, and politics of a congressional nature just isn't my game. But I still delight in the anomaly of him, just like I did as a kid. I believe that most people holding high office in this country are reveling in the status quo; in the potential to shovel money towards associates, in their own power, in their own place in an unquestioned game. Dennis got into the same game, and has made it a platform not only for veganism, universal health care, and a Department of Peace, but for his own exaltedly goofy ideas about life's meaning.

And yes, I am planning to vote for him in the next primary.

*Though I think Hillary Clinton would be a much lesser evil than you-know-who.


Margie in Oakland said...

Yeah. He's a goofy good guy with great ideas and an impossible name for most Americans. But after this many years maybe saying his name is getting easier, and that is important, isn't it? Issues?

Anonymous said...

Wow, since I grew up in Cleveland, it never occurred to me that the name Kucinich could be hard to pronounce!


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