Steve Cobble argues in The Nation that Dennis Kucinich, unlike John Edwards, never got proper credit for moving the other candidates leftward. Instead, “the snark and abuse offered Kucinich” when he dropped out was undeserved for a congressman from a tough district who has taken admirable and consistent positions on the issues.
But why stop there? Why not ask who opened the door for Edwards? Because on almost every issue that John Edwards battled hard on in 2007, helping move Obama and Clinton closer to the light, it’s indisputable that Dennis Kucinich pushed on those same issues back in 2003, again in 2007 and every year in between. In other words, Kucinich was against the war, for fair trade, against NAFTA and the WTO, against the Patriot Act, for single-payer health care, for an infrastructure plan to rebuild America and put forward a plan to bring the troops home—all long before not just John Edwards, but long before almost anybody.
Consider the Patriot Act vote, cast by the Congress in October of 2001, only a few weeks after 9/11, in a scary time of threats and intimidation from the Bush/Cheney Administration. This vote had our lawmakers so scared that only a few brave House members stood up to oppose it, and in the Senate, only Russ Feingold had the guts to say no. But Kucinich voted no. Why? Because he read the bill. He risked his political career to oppose an intrusive, liberty-violating, fundamentally un-American bill. Very few others did, especially House members from ethnic urban districts.
So give John Edwards his due. But give Kucinich his due, too.