Presidential hopeful calls upon students to take action

Of the nine major Democratic presidential candidates campaigning to win their party’s nomination, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, says that he is the candidate that will bring about the most change if elected.

“My campaign represents the most profound transformation and dramatic change of America’s role in our own nation and the world,” Kucinich said in a recent interview.

Kucinich said that he hopes young people join his campaign in a movement to change the direction of the country.

“It all starts with moving away from fear and towards a new beginning of hope,” Kucinich said.

On the campaign trail and in his role as a congressman, Kucinich has been one of the most outspoken critics of the war with Iraq and ongoing reconstruction. He voted against the initial war resolution last fall and opposed the president’s most recent request for $87 billion dollars to rebuild Iraq and aid the military.

Kucinich still lists Iraq as one of his major concerns and says that it is important to withdraw as soon as possible.

“We must get out of Iraq now,” Kucinich said. “We can’t do that fast enough. We have to end the occupation and get the United Nations in and the United States out.”

Kucinich also took the President to task for what he calls “administration lies” about the war and their general approach to foreign policy.

“We should work with the world community to ensure peace, not fear,” Kucinich said.

In addition to opposing the war, Kucinich has consistently called for a Department of Peace that will work both domestically and internationally to end wars and violence.

Kucinich also has been heavily critical of the President’s economic policies. He said that it is difficult for college graduates to find a job today and tied the administration’s defense spending and Iraq war to the recent economic downturn.

“We have to end this Pentagon buildup. We lost three million jobs these past few years. We have to stop wars because war just wrecks our economy,” Kucinich said.

Instead of defense spending, Kucinich favors an increase in schools, hospitals and infrastructure. “We need jobs in health care, education and construction,” Kucinich said. “If we build more schools, hospitals, bridges and highways, that will happen.”

While Kucinich is generally regarded as a newcomer on the national political scene, he has been a fixture in Ohio political circles for three decades. Kucinich was first elected to Cleveland City Council at age 23, championing the “working man” and other blue-collar causes. He was elected Mayor of Cleveland in 1977, but soon faced turmoil over the city’s budget problems. Eventually, the city was forced to declare bankruptcy and Kucinich was defeated for re-election in 1979.

He worked in various jobs including stints as a talk show host, television reporter and college professor, before staging a political comeback in 1994 and winning a state senate seat that same year. He ran for Congress in 1996 and narrowly defeated incumbent Rep. Martin Hoke.

Kucinich’s presidential campaign is largely based on the same initiatives he has advocated since being elected to Congress, including the environment, health care and education.

On the environmental front, Kucinich said that the “environment has characterized my time in Congress.” He praised the Kyoto protocol and said the nation as a whole must do more to address environmental problems.

“We need to move towards sustainability and invest in new energy technologies,” Kucinich said.

As for education spending, Kucinich has proposed repealing all of the president’s tax cuts and earmarking the money for higher education.

“Every American has a right to higher education,” Kucinich said. “For $48 billion dollars, we could provide tuition for everyone.”

Kucinich also said that a revamped health care system would benefit college students. “I would support a universal single payer health care plan that would cover every American. No college student would have to worry about some loved one going without health care,” Kucinich said.

Kucinich also blasted international trade agreements such as NAFTA and the WTO. Kucinich said that his administration would change America’s approach to globalization.

“I’m the one candidate who is not just talking about cooperation, but about a more just, global society,” Kucinich remarked. “The WTO, IMF and World Bank must be responsible in matters of social and economic justice.”

As someone who got involved in politics early in life, Kucinich stressed that it’s important college students take an interest in this year’s election. Kucinich said young people are getting involved in his campaign and he wants to reach out to as many young people as possible.

“I’m always available and interested to speak on campuses and talk to young people about these important issues,” Kucinich said.

He also said that next year’s election should be a defining moment for college students.

“This is the moment we can change the world. We should not settle for half-measures. When we settle for half-measures, we forfeit our dreams,” Kucinich said. “If we dream to create a new world, this is the time to do it. Our goals can be achieved through our hands and our hearts.”