- Democratic Member of Congress
- Member of Progressive Caucus
- Anti-war candidate for President in 2004
Dennis Kucinich has been a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Ohio’s 10th District, since 1996. He has had close ties to Communist Party USA (CPUSA) members since the 1960s. According to the World Socialist Web Site, Kucinich, during his years as mayor of Cleveland (1977-79), "was closely allied with the Stalinists of the CPUSA." In 2008, Kucinich's political campaign received support from Rick Nagin and the longtime CPUSA official (and Venceremos Brigade veteran) Bruce Bostick.
Born in Cleveland in October 1946, Kucinich attended Cleveland State University from 1967-1970. In 1973 he graduated from Case Western Reserve University with degrees in speech and communication.
From 1969-1973, and again briefly in 1983, Kucinich served on the Cleveland city council. In 1977 he was elected mayor of Cleveland. Under his stewardship the city fell into financial bankruptcy, a development that doomed his re-election bid in 1979.
In 1979 Kucinich became a consultant for a publicly owned electric company. From 1985-1995, he served as president of a marketing and communications firm. From 1982-1992, he was a professor of political science at Case Western Reserve University. He taught communications and political science at Cleveland State University from 1991 to 1994. He was a member of the Ohio state senate from 1995 to 1996, and has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996. During Kucinich's successful 1996 congressional run, he received the support of CPUSA-Ohio chairman Rick Nagin.
In June 2002 Kucinich was the leading plaintiff when 31 House members filed a lawsuit against George W. Bush in an effort to block the President from withdrawing the U.S. from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. In addition, the suit named Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell as defendants. Among Kucinich's fellow plaintiffs were Representatives John Conyers, Jesse Jackson Jr., Barbara Lee, Cynthia McKinney, and Maxine Waters.
Also in 2002, Kucinich said, “We must challenge those who would make of any nation a nuclear target; challenge those who would threaten to use nuclear weapons against civilian populations; challenge those who would break nuclear treaties.” He was referring specifically to the United States.
In February 2003 Kucinich and five other House Democrats again sued President Bush, this time in an attempt to block a U.S. invasion of Iraq. "Iraq is not an imminent threat to this nation," said Kucinich. "Forty million Americans suffering from inadequate health care is an imminent threat. The high cost of prescription drugs is an imminent threat. The ravages of unemployment is an imminent threat. The slowdown of the economy is an imminent threat, and so, too, the devastating effects of corporate fraud."
Kucinich was a guest speaker at numerous anti-war demonstrations during the months preceding Operation Iraqi Freedom. At a massive February 2003 rally in New York, he called for American "leadership in global disarmament." Kucinich also opposed the U.N. sanctions that had been imposed against Iraq in response to Saddam Hussein's non-compliance with weapons-inspection efforts.
Kucinich advocates the creation of a new federal agency called the Department of Peace (DOP), whose purpose, he explains, "will be to support disarmament, treaties, peaceful coexistence, and peaceful consensus building." "Domestically," adds Kucinich, "the Department of Peace would address violence in the home, spousal abuse, child abuse, gangs, police-community relations conflicts and work with individuals and groups to achieve changes in attitudes that examine the mythologies of cherished world views, such as 'violence is inevitable' or 'war is inevitable.' Thus it will help with the discovery of new selves and new paths toward peaceful consensus."
Kucinich believes that clearly enunciated good intentions can win the hearts of America's enemies around the world. “In the finest example of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.,” he says, “we can learn to confront our enemies with ahimsa, unconditional love.”
Kucinich advocates drastic reductions in spending for America's national defense, particularly the research and development of new weapons; he calls for further, though less draconian, cuts in funding for the modernization of existing weapons and military hardware; and he favors the total elimination of research and testing for a missile-defense system. The money Kucinich would siphon away from defense spending, he would direct instead toward the Department of Peace and toward increased spending on the arts, education, transportation, welfare, and environmental protection.
Kucinich believes that terrorism should be dealt with through legal, not military, channels. "When terrorists threaten our security," he says, "we must enforce the law and bring [them] to justice within our system of constitutional justice, without undermining the very civil liberties which permits our democracy to breathe."
In Kucinich’s view, the U.S. is almost always to blame in matters of international conflict. He contends, for instance, that American anti-terrorism troops deployed in the Philippines, Yemen, Soviet Georgia, Columbia, and Indonesia only “create new possibilities for expanded war.” With regard to the military action that brought down the Taliban in 2001, he decried America's “bombing of civilians in Afghanistan,” and lamented that “the blood of innocent people who perished on September 11 [was] avenged with the blood of innocent villagers in Afghanistan.”
In September 2007 Kucinich was interviewed on Syrian television, where he condemned President Bush's "illegal war" in Iraq. During the course of the interview, Kucinich said that Syrian "President Assad showed a real desire to play a role in helping to create a peaceful settlement of the conditions in Iraq, as well as a grander approach towards creating peace"; that he (Kucinich) "felt honored to have had the chance to speak with [Assad]"; that "Americans have an increased understanding today of how wrong the [Iraq] war was and is"; that the entire war was "based on a lie" by the Bush administration regarding the threat posed by Saddam Hussein; that "[t]he effort against Iraq was dishonest, or crooked, from the beginning"; that the U.S. should initiate a "political [peace] process that reaches out to the international community with the help of Syria and Iran"; and that "not only must we [the U.S.] stabilize Iraq, but we also must pay reparations to the people of Iraq for the great human tragedy that has been caused." To view a video of Kucinich’s comments in their entirety, click here.
Kucinich later told the Associated Press in Lebanon that he had chosen not to visit Iraq during his Mideast tour because he preferred not to “bless” the “illegal occupation” by the United States.
In 2004 and 2008, Kucinich sought, unsuccessfully, his party’s nomination for U.S. President. In his 2004 run, he won the endorsement of the Communist party USA. In a 2004 report, CPUSA Political Action Committee chair Joelle Fishman singled out Kucinich for praise. In a July 2007 report to the CPUSA's National Committee, Party chairman Sam Webb urged fellow communists to "have a positive attitude toward the candidacy of Congressman Dennis Kucinich," characterizing the latter as "a leading voice of the broad people’s coalition." "The more he [Kucinich] speaks to audiences of the core forces," said Webb, "the better positioned the movement will be to win in 2008 and to fight the good fight in 2009."
Kucinich is a staunch supporter of an organization called SOA Watch, whose mission is to close down the School Of the Americas (SOA), which in 2001 was renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHISC). Located at Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, SOA is the U.S. Army's principal Spanish-language training facility for Latin American military personnel. During the Cold War, SOA trained many Latin Americans in guerrilla tactics designed to help put down Communist insurgencies in the region. Critics complain that some of the people who were trained at SOA later went on to commit atrocities against their foes. SOA supporters, meanwhile, note that the School trains its cadets in human rights and cannot be held responsible for the excesses of a small minority of its graduates. Kucinich has co-sponsored legislation calling for SOA's closure, and has made numerous statements from the House floor toward that end.
In March 2011, Kucinich raised the question of whether President Barack Obama had committed an impeachable offense by using the U.S. military to enforce a United Nations-backed no-fly zone over Libya, without first consulting Congress. He stressed, however, that he did not intend to actually seek Obama's impeachment.
In the fall of 2011, Dennis Trainor, an activist who had served as a writer/media consultant for Kucinich's 2008 presidential campaign, became the chief organizer of the anti-capitalist "October 2011" movement.
In a March 2014 interview with Fox News's Bill O'Reily, Kucinich claimed that Russia's recent invasion of Ukraine -- which occurred shortly after a popular uprising had driven Ukraine's pro-Russian president out of the capital city of Kiev -- was the result of unjustified behind-the-scenes actions by the United States. Specifically, he stated that the U.S. had covertly used the CIA and two government foreign aid groups, the National Endowment for Democracy and the United States Agency for International Development, to "stir up trouble in Ukraine." Said Kucinich:
"What I'd do is not have USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy working with U.S. taxpayers' money to knock off an elected government in Ukraine, which is what they did. I wouldn't try to force the people of Ukraine into a deal with NATO against their interest or into a deal with the European Union, which is against their economic interest."
As a result, Kucinich elaborated, "you've got neo-Nazis that are in control" -- a refernce to a widely diputed assertion by Russia's U.N. ambassador in which he called pro-European Ukrainians "anti-Semites and fascists."
At one point in the interview, O'Reilly asked Kucinich: "So, it's the USA's fault that Putin rolled in? We made them do it?" The congressman replied: "Bill O'Reilly, if you don't believe in cause and effect, I don't know what I can do for you."
"From what I'm hearing, you're blaming the USA for subverting Ukraine in the first place, thereby giving Putin a pass to go in and invade," O'Reilly retorted. "That's close," Kucinich answered.
In July 2014, Kucinich condemned Israel for initiating a military operation in Gaza -- an incursion designed to destroy the killing capacity of Hamas terrorists who had been launching, from Gaza, a ceaseless barrage of potentially deadly missiles deep into Israel. On July 18, the congressman wrote in the Huffington Post:
"Israel invades Gaza because it can. Gazans, in the face of an invasion, have no ability to strike back, while Israel strikes forward. Israel has total military superiority, an air force which can knock and then bomb, a navy which can shell Gazans from miles off shore, an army which can roll tanks into Gaza nonstop. Gazans have no army, navy, or air force with which to defend. Israel, as any nation, has a right to defend itself, but it confuses offense with defense. It is on the offensive in Gaza.
"Israel, with its overwhelming military strength, is attacking and invading Gaza in violation of international and U.S. law. Its construction of settlements violates the Oslo agreement. Its Central Bank dries up the Gaza economy and blocks payments to Gazan civil servants. Its total control brings the Palestinians to utter subjection and total despair.
"Israel can kill, injure, and humiliate Palestinians at will, with impunity, which is exactly what gave rise to Hamas and strengthens Hamas' hold in Gaza, even as the IDF advances. Israel will go door to door in Gaza in the hunt for Hamas, which comprises the government of the Palestinians and is therefore a necessary party to any peace talks. It is axiomatic that if you kill your partner for peace, you will have no partner for peace.
"There will be no peace, for now, as Gaza is turned into an abattoir, to collectively punish Gazans for supporting Hamas. Israel, in its attempt to divide Hamas from the Gazans, will actually multiply Hamas' strength in Gaza and elsewhere. Israel may indeed find and kill Hamas officials. But it is not the current individuals who make up Hamas who constitute Israel's deep dilemma, which threatens its long term security. It is Israel's policies which gave rise to Hamas and which, if left unaltered, will spawn increased resistance no matter how many members of Hamas Israel is successful in apprehending or killing.
"What is the end game? To cast Gazans to the sea, where they will be met by the Israeli Navy? To push Gazans into Egypt? To eject all Palestinians to... where? This is a question relevant not only to Israelis and Palestinians, but to the entire world...."
Prior to 2013, Kucinich was a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
For an overview of Kucinich’s voting record on key pieces of legislation during his years in Congress, click here.