I cut my political teeth as a campus coordinator for Dennis Kucinich’s quixotic primary challenge to Mary Rose Oakar in 1988.? He lost 75-25.? There were like 4 people at the election night party, two of whom were me and my fellow CSU student intern friend.? It was one of the earliest formative experiences of my political career.? I spent a lot of time around Dennis, and those close to him.? Dennis has been my congressman for most of the years he’s been in Congress.? He was my mayor when I was a kid.

So I know what kind of politician Dennis Kucinich is.? When Dennis decides what he believes in, he acts in pursuit of that belief forever, taking every logical step that conclusion requires.? The Cleveland default, while Dennis was mayor, was the first manifestation.? That default gave rise to George Voinovich, a Republican mayor of a Democratic city, and that gift kept on giving to Ohio Republicans for decades.

Consequences are consequences, Dennis would say, of acting on what you believe in.? It’s an honorable, even noble way to conduct your public service, but it is very messy, and often counterproductive. You do have the luxury of always being right.? History is Dennis’ judge, he’d say.

Dennis has decided that the only health care reform that makes sense is a single payer system that eliminates private health insurance companies forever.? A lot of us agree, including myself.? The difference between Dennis and the rest of us is that Dennis will only act in a manner which will immediately bring single payer to reality, while the rest of us fight to get the best we can out of a political system designed by the framers for compromise.

The problem for Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi is that Dennis thus subtracts one vote from every whip count, to account for Dennis’ eventual “no” vote.? Dennis has decided that he doesn’t care.? When Dennis thinks he’s right, he will follow his logic to its bitter end, for the sake of being right.? See his presidential follies.? I admire this in Dennis, to a point.

I don’t know if Dennis will change his vote on final passage if the entire thing comes down to one vote.? He may.? But this is not Boccieri-style preening, it’s Kucinich-style crusading.? Dennis is in the safest seat this side of Tim Ryan and Marcia Fudge, but it’s even safer, because Dennis is so beloved on Cleveland’s west side.? There are parents who were not born when Dennis began his career with kids in college today, and both parent and child think of Dennis as the single most perfected manifestation of all that is good about a dying city.? Nothing is going to ever change that.? So Dennis can afford his crusades.

I’m hopeful that we won’t need Dennis’ vote for final passage, because I actually like that Dennis is this committed to single payer.? Someone has to be.? Someday, generations from now, single payer may become a reality thanks to people like Dennis.? But if it comes down to Dennis’ vote on health care reform in 2009, and Dennis does flip flop, he has nothing to fear.? Dennis may have to choose between single payer crusading and this historic presidency.? In that equation, I think Dennis will choose this presidency.

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  • chrisperrbluelake

    Tim, finally, after reading all the Ohio Blogs in regard to the Kucinich ?no? vote, a rational voice comes forth from the sea of misguided Dennis bashing.

    You give my man ?props? and yet at the same time chastise him as well ? fair enough ? but your take is based on experience and grounded in reality and I respect you for that.

    Some of my life experience comes in the form of patient rights advocacy and working in coalition with single-payer health care reform organizations. So, I appreciate you not being so dismissive of the infamous ?no? vote and that you acknowledge that ?someday, generations from now, single payer may become a reality thanks to people like Dennis.?
    But I ask, is the House bill better than nothing? I don?t think so. It simply throws more money into a dysfunctional and unsustainable system, with only a few improvements at the edges, and it further entrenches and augments the central role of the insurance industry.
    The danger is that as costs continue to rise, coverage becomes less comprehensive and the ?public option? (already set up to be 25% more expensive than the average private plan) is rigged to trigger its failure and people will conclude that we?ve tried health reform and it didn?t work.
    The real problem will be that we didn?t really try. Cowardice ruled the day. Insurance companies are the problem, not the solution.
    You are an apologist for all things Obama ? I am an apologist for all things Dennis.
    We simply capitulated to the highest level as this bill will enshrine into law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry; falls far short in effective controls on skyrocketing insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital costs, does little to stop insurance companies from denying needed medical care recommended by doctors, embraces religious-right extremists as it obliterates for millions of women their fundamental right to choose and by requiring at least 25 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue coming from taxpayers.
    I would rather see us do nothing now, and have a better chance of trying again later and then doing it right. As it stands now, we have rewarded, mandated and institutionalized the for-profit health insurance industry as our leading economic anchor and made the goal of universal health care for all Americans (Medicare for all) much more un-attainable. The House and Senate bills, unless radically amended, are not precursors to single-payer, but rather the termination of such legislation for the foreseeable future.

  • chrisperrbluelake

    Tim, finally, after reading all the Ohio Blogs in regard to the Kucinich ?no? vote, a rational voice comes forth from the sea of misguided Dennis bashing.

    You give my man ?props? and yet at the same time chastise him as well ? fair enough ? but your take is based on experience and grounded in reality and I respect you for that.

    Some of my life experience comes in the form of patient rights advocacy and working in coalition with single-payer health care reform organizations. So, I appreciate you not being so dismissive of the infamous ?no? vote and that you acknowledge that ?someday, generations from now, single payer may become a reality thanks to people like Dennis.?
    But I ask, is the House bill better than nothing? I don?t think so. It simply throws more money into a dysfunctional and unsustainable system, with only a few improvements at the edges, and it further entrenches and augments the central role of the insurance industry.
    The danger is that as costs continue to rise, coverage becomes less comprehensive and the ?public option? (already set up to be 25% more expensive than the average private plan) is rigged to trigger its failure and people will conclude that we?ve tried health reform and it didn?t work.
    The real problem will be that we didn?t really try. Cowardice ruled the day. Insurance companies are the problem, not the solution.
    You are an apologist for all things Obama ? I am an apologist for all things Dennis.
    We simply capitulated to the highest level as this bill will enshrine into law the monopolistic powers of the private health insurance industry; falls far short in effective controls on skyrocketing insurance, pharmaceutical and hospital costs, does little to stop insurance companies from denying needed medical care recommended by doctors, embraces religious-right extremists as it obliterates for millions of women their fundamental right to choose and by requiring at least 25 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue coming from taxpayers.
    I would rather see us do nothing now, and have a better chance of trying again later and then doing it right. As it stands now, we have rewarded, mandated and institutionalized the for-profit health insurance industry as our leading economic anchor and made the goal of universal health care for all Americans (Medicare for all) much more un-attainable. The House and Senate bills, unless radically amended, are not precursors to single-payer, but rather the termination of such legislation for the foreseeable future.

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