Archive for July, 2008

One-on-one Politics

July 29, 2008

My politics align better with Dennis Kucinich than with any of the other presidential candidates (now mostly former candidates), and so even though I knew he had no chance of becoming President, I donated to his campaign. That means that I am on his e-mail list, and last week I got an e-mail saying that he would be at a picnic in Menlo Park (which is relatively nearby, for anyone reading this who doesn’t know where I am or the area).

Last October I went to a straw poll in San Mateo, but arrived just after Kucinich spoke, so I decided to check out this picnic. When I arrived I was surprised that his name was not more prominently listed on the list of reserved picnic areas (he was a footnote to the name of the person who had reserved the spot), and arriving at that area I was surprised to not see a typical looking group of liberal Democrats. Instead I saw a group of predominantly Middle Eastern people, but I spotted Dennis and his wife Elizabeth, so I knew I was in the right place.

It turns out that this was a picnic put on by a local Ramallah club (I’m not sure if it was the San Francisco or San Jose chapter, or what). They say that they advocate a more balanced approach to peace in the Middle East than the typical U.S. view, and I learned that Kucinich had spoken at their national convention in Detroit. I had expected a much more formal fund raiser, and what I got instead was a casual Sunday picnic. [Note: The e-mail invitation I got indicated a suggested donation, but no one mentioned that at the event. I ended up just asking Dennis who I should give the money to, and we had to scramble for a piece of paper so that we could record the donation for regulatory reasons. Which seemed refreshingly old-fashioned.]

In the course of the hour or so I was there, I figure I spent a total of about five minutes talking directly with Dennis. At one point I mentioned that I really admired his courage to be against the death penalty, and he asked me why I was against it. In my reply I forgot the important point that it’s hard to undo an execution if you determine that the person is innocent, but my line of “what part of ‘thou shalt not kill’ didn’t you understand?” seemed to be new to him. Shortly before I left, I also asked him if he had any idea if Al Gore’s zero carbon electricity proposal could even make it to the point of being discussed. Dennis didn’t have much encouragement except to point out that if we could save everything currently going into Iraq, that could make a big difference in paying for such a program.

I came away with a couple of things. First, of course, I got a greater sense of Dennis Kucinich the person, beyond the leprechaun jokes on The Daily Show. But second, and much more significant, I realized that I’m entitled to meet my representatives in government, and that making the effort to do so would have a much greater impact than sending the occassional e-mail that some intern answers with a form letter. I intend to make at least an attempt to meet Anna Eshoo (my U.S. Congressperson) this year.

Lastly I’ll pass on a petition request that I got from Dennis. While his drive to get impeachment hearings seems like a very long shot for the short time between now and the end of the current presidential term, I learned that impeachment can be done even after someone leaves office, so it’s still worth sending the message that many of us feel that this administration is guilty of impeachable offenses. The petition is reachable from the home page of Dennis’s web site. The deadline iswas tomorrowyesterday evening (July 30, 2008).

I forgot to include this when I first posted this, but I took one cameraphone picture:

Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich