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A Letter To A Non-Voter
June 17, 2003
By David Swanson

Editor's Note: Democratic Underground welcomes articles promoting individual Democratic candidates for political office. Publication of these articles does not imply endorsement of any candidate by the editors of Democratic Underground.

Dear Non-Voter,

I vote and you don't, and that either makes me too gullible or you too cynical. It's probably some of each. In a lot of general elections, you're probably right to stay home. Any way you look at it you lose. And if some candidate offering you something you can really use is running in a third party, why bother voting for them, right?

But I want to talk to you about primaries. What do you say when someone prepared to turn the system on its head and radically improve your life (yes, politics can occasionally do this) is running in the primary of one of the two main parties? Wouldn't it make sense to register in that party and vote for that person in the primary and turn the election into something that actually matters?

How would you like to have free quality health care like the rest of the industrial world and never have to hear of an HMO or a PPO or a co-payment or a participating provider again? How would you like to have free quality preschool through college yes, college and never have to hear about incompetent teachers, large class sizes, or tuition payments again? What would you think of a jobs program that hired thousands of Americans at good pay to do useful work in our schools, parks, forests, and cities? Would you like to pay for these things by repealing all tax cuts recently given to multi-millionaires and corporations, closing corporate tax loopholes, ending the practice of buying a corporate P.O. Box in Bermuda in order to avoid taxes, and ending waste at the Pentagon?

These proposals are not being made by a Ralph Nader or a Ross Perot. These proposals are spelled out in detail at www.kucinich.us, the website of Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who is running for President as a Democrat.

You're smart enough to ignore people who tell you it's simply your responsibility to vote. But you're also smart enough to turn out when an initiative is on the ballot that really matters to you. Well, now a candidate is on the Democratic Primary ballot who can drastically improve our lives. If we don't register and vote for him if we don't tell all our friends to do so we'll have no one to complain about except ourselves.

Of course, the mainstream media is pretending Kucinich doesn't exist. The media has already ranked the candidates by bank account or by no stated criteria at all and placed Kucinich at the bottom. But members of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) ranked him first. Subscribers to MoveOn.org ranked him third. And only he and one other candidate are turning out crowds of any size at speaking events.

Of course, AFSCME's president is ignoring his members and joining Democratic insiders in trying to nominate a Democrat who as closely as possible resembles a Republican. The problem with this strategy is that we've already got a Republican president. We've lost 3 million jobs since he took office. Millions have lost health care. Homelessness is soaring. Schools are crumbling. People who like this state of affairs will vote for Bush. People who don't will stay home if the choice is between Bush and a Bush look-alike.

Kucinich is a contrast to Bush and can therefore win by exciting people like you. There are many more of you than there are swing voters who always vote but don't always vote for the same party. If all of you non-voters got together, you could elect anyone you wanted. I think you can do so in 2004.

Why Kucinich? He has experience in local, state, and federal government, and he has the policies people actually want. He also has the nerve to fight for those policies and not back down in the face of pressure from lobbyists.

Some progressives are excited about the fact that there are two African-Americans among the nine Democratic contenders, one of them a woman. Al Sharpton is a heck of a great public speaker, but he does not have the experience or the detailed proposals that Kucinich has. Mosley-Braun has less to offer than Al Sharpton. These are the three candidates we should be looking at, but of these three Kucinich stands out.

Democratic insiders are going to try to nominate Kerry or Lieberman by arguing that Kucinich can't win against Bush. That argument is based on a claim that people like you won't bother to vote. But once Kerry has been nominated, it will be too late for you to say "But I would have voted if you'd given me a candidate." Now is the time to sieze for yourselves a candidate. Nobody gives you anything in this world. Take it. Elect Kucinich now by volunteering to help his campaign.

David Swanson's website is www.davidswanson.org

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