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Truthdigger of the Week: Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Since he first entered elected office more than 40 years ago, Dennis Kucinich has proved time and again to be an indefatigable fighter and principled politician — a rare creature indeed — who never forgot where he came from or those for whom he was responsible. While his defeat in Tuesday’s Ohio primary election might have sidetracked his 16-year congressional career, we’re betting we haven’t seen the last of Kucinich in the national political arena, as he’s always been more about ideas and values than power and prestige (the last two in that list, for him, always came as a result of his commitments to the first two), and there’s still much work to be done on causes he’s owned over the course of eight terms in the U.S. House. But we’d like to take this brief pause to make him our Truthdigger of the Week.

Rep. Kucinich was the oldest of seven children in a working-class family in Cleveland, and their frequent moves and struggles to pay the bills made a big impression on the future legislator. Kucinich took a shine to the idea of public service at an early age; in 1977, when he was elected mayor of Cleveland at just 31, he famously became the youngest person ever to be the mayor of a major American city. His mayoral tenure was a short one — the blowback from his dogged insistence on keeping the city’s municipally owned electric system from privatization knocked him out of office after two years when he lost a bid for re-election. But as Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer pointed out in his column this week, it was just that refusal to be bullied or co-opted by corporate interests that would shape Kucinich’s political profile and eventually propel him to higher positions of influence — all the way to the halls of Congress and two runs for the White House. (Kucinich can also count Truthdig contributor among his list of impressive credentials.)

Kucinich was one of too few voices opposing the Iraq War in 2002 in the run-up to that costly tragedy, and as Scheer also noted, the congressman made it his job to be “unfailingly resilient in advocating for the vulnerable, whether they were the working poor in his district or the folks our government bombed throughout the world.” In fact, we’ll let Scheer lead us out with his take on Kucinich’s legacy, as he puts it all best in his column here. Could be that Kucinich will find his way back to Capitol Hill in no time — wouldn’t be the first time he’s taken a hit and come back stronger.

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