As the country bids farewell to the 112th Congress on Thursday, we also say goodbye to Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, who has served since 1997.
At age 23, Kucinich was elected to the Cleveland City Council in 1969 and was elected Mayor of Cleveland in 1977. A former Democratic presidential candidate, Kucinich ran in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. In 2008, he aided President Obama by urging supporters to caucus with supporters of Obama in the 2008 Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses. Leading up to the 2012 election, Ohio Republicans redrew congressional district lines and Kucinich lost the primary to another Democrat, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. His eighth term in the House ended today, and had parting words to his fellow colleagues and the nation.
“I have also come to understand that our politics divides people. The politics of polarization and hyperpartisanship has become obviously quite destructive, nearly incapacitating government. Yet at such a time the hunger for unity is the greatest. But the ideological difference between us widens. We need a new politics in America, which unites people, which sets aside partisan differences for the greater good of the country, which strives to reconnect with the greatness of the nation and the goodness of the American people.”
Kucinich proposed a solution for tempering the political discourse, and challenged his colleagues to think about the original framework of government. In his last words on the floor of Congress, Kucinich stated:
“The rhetoric would change to one of mutual respect. The questioning of motives would end. The poisoned system of pay to play would be transformed by public financing. And our government would be rededicated to addressing the practical aspirations of all the American people, for jobs, for health care for all, for education for all, for retirement security for all and for environmental security. We need a new politics which creates jobs and celebrates the dignity of work. Our government must raise the status of working people and protect their rights. Our government must stress wealth creation over taxation, investment over debt, health over illness, peace over war, liberty over surveillance.”