Dennis Kucinich needs your help. No, seriously.
We in the blogosphere often do a great job of attacking those with whom we disagree. But we're not so great at rewarding those who do the right thing. Alleviating that deficiency was the guiding idea behind the Carrots, Not Sticks effort during the public option pledge campaign.
Of course, it's no secret that Dennis Kucinich is not one of the most popular figures in many corners of the progressive blogosphere. Many bloggers, myself included, have raked him over the coals for his tendency to run at windmills while setting back pragmatic efforts to secure vital reforms. This was no truer than in efforts at healthcare reform, where Mr. Kucinich until recently was on the firm "no" side of anything falling short of the single-payer ideal.
Mr. Kucinich's idealism has made him a hero to many progressives, however, and has won him a strong base of support. Now much of that support has turned to vitriol as he switched from healthcare reform holdout to healthcare reform whip:
A few hours after Rep. Dennis Kucinich switched his support to become a critical vote for the health care bill, he took to the House floor to ask wavering colleagues to join him. Astonished colleagues pointed to Kucinich (D-OH) darting from member to member on the House floor yesterday, saying privately they'd never seen him get so involved in whipping a vote.No matter what one thinks of Dennis Kucinich and his legislative record, that kind of reversal takes courage and humility.
When one takes into account that Kucinich has spent a lifetime building a base of take-no-prisoners progressive idealists, together with the fact that most of those idealists remain firmly opposed to current reform legislation, it is truly extraordinary to see Kucinich take a step that will dramatically weaken the support of the very constituency he has taken decades to nourish.
Kucinich is facing demands to return donations, as well as angry calls from his base all across America. This is in addition to the countless teabaggers jamming his and every other representative's phone in D.C. encouraging him to "kill the bill."
This is in many ways a test for the pragmatic progressive community: if we don't stand and support Mr. Kucinich for doing the right thing now, why should anyone else in his position do what we ask in the future?
It's typically bad form for non-constituents to make calls to members of Congress outside their own district, but Dennis is a national politician with a national base that is calling him angrily with feelings of betrayed outrage. So please call Mr. Kucinich today to thank him for his vote on healthcare reform, and for encouraging other fence-sitting progressives to do the same.
D.C. OfficeAnd if you have a dollar or two to spare, please consider a small donation to Dennis to help make up for the money his wounded base is demanding back from him for not sticking to an anti-reform position.
2445 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Lakewood Office, OH
14400 Detroit Avenue
Lakewood, Ohio 44107
Parma Office, OH
7904 Day Drive
Parma, Ohio 44129
Even as we continue whipping those whose votes are uncertain at this point, we also need to thank people for doing the right thing, even if only belatedly. Especially when doing so betrays their own ideals and a support base they have worked hard to build.