Stand-up progressives: Kucinich vs. war

Right-wing Republicans may be strutting around calling the 2010 mid-term elections a “rejection” of progressive ideas, but that doesn’t mean that it’s so. Contrary to popular belief among right-wing conservatives, there is more than one valid point of view on the political scene in 2010. Progressives are still out here, advocating for policies and programs that work for the common good, help people whose opportunities have been constricted by circumstances beyond their control, and promote equality, human rights and small-d democracy. And, in fact, Americans count on fundamental, progressive policies and programs in their everyday lives. That’s why it’s so important to keep the progressive fire burning, to keep advocating for progressive programs and to be unrelenting in reminding America about the constructive role that progressivism continues to play.

And that’s why Occasional Planet is starting a new feature, called “Stand-up Progressives.” As events dictate, we’ll highlight people in and out of government, who are fearlessly making the progressive case that is so critical to the well-being of our country. And that’s why a news item we saw on November 10, 2010 prompted us to call out Dennis Kucinich as our first “Stand-up Progressive.”

Congressman Kucinich [D-OH] is unhappy about the just-revealed plan to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2014, thus undermining a previous Obama-administration pledge to begin withdrawing troops in 2011. Most importantly, Kucinich is doing something about it.

“When the new 112th Congress convenes in January, I will immediately enter a privileged resolution that will force Congress to vote on setting a withdrawal date,” Kucinich said. “The withdrawal of our troops must be driven by Congress, not the corrupt president of Afghanistan.”

On his website, Kucinich says:

In July 2010, Kucinich introduced bipartisan legislation that would have ended the war in Afghanistan by the end of this year. The new legislation would call for the end of the war by the end of 2011. This legislation will firmly establish ownership of the war and its timeline by the new 112th Congress.

“It is imperative that the 112th Congress move immediately to end this costly and unnecessary war,” said Kucinich. “Our economy needs help and as the new leadership looks for ways to reduce spending, I will continue to introduce legislation and amendments to force votes, ensuring that this issue remains at the forefront of issues facing the next Congress.

Kucinich’s plan demonstrates his courage as a progressive willing to go beyond complaining and take action. His resolution has little chance of passing, but he’s not backing down. His action is a role model–in the Howard Zinn tradition–for fighting the uphill battle in the interest of the common good.