Barack Obama, Dennis Kucinich, John McCain, politics, United States

Why Dennis Kucinich needs to be a third ticket candidate

The political, policy, and governance implications of the brewing banking disaster south of the border are troubling. Occuring during the presidential campaign as it does, you’d think, you’d hope that it would be fodder for some real policy discussion, but you’d be mistaken. You’d be disheartened. Since the causes of the problem are well enough known and accepted by both presidential candidates – wreckless deregulation of the financial industry in the late nineties, you’d think that they’d be pressuring for more regulation as part of the “rescue plan”, but no, they are not. Not in any meaningful way, at any rate. Instead, it is viewed by the media and politicos as a sort of litmus test for McCain and Obama on their “ability to lead” or some other throwaway attribute that fundamentally comes down to “not doing anything just now”. That this was a hypothetical mind game and not a reality.


One would hope, and hope is all we have some days, is it not, that someone would raise their eyes and suggest that maybe, just maybe, buying out all of the “bad debt” with taxpayer money is really in fact just rewarding the behaviour that created the problem in the first place. Particularly if no real restrictions were to be put in place to prevent a recurrence of the same crisis later on.


(A hypothetical – If the US government was a parent, how would it respond if their teenage kid come running to it with a maxed-out credit card? Why, it would say “oh, bad, bad boy”, pay off the debt, taking a second mortgage if required, and then hand the card right back to him.)


Of course, there is an alternative, one which I thought nobody at all was talking about, and it turns out that some were, but they just weren’t getting real media time. That is, until I heard Dennis Kucinich interviewed by Rachel Maddow (broadcast last night, but online this morning).  Kucinich calls for  “New Deal” economics, help out the home owners so they don’t default on their over-priced mortgages, saving them and the banks in the process. 


Unfortunately, in modern US doublespeak, helping out banks is “capitalism” and helping out real people is “socialism” and we all know what socialism is, right? Bad.

That McCain won’t suggest something as outrageous as helping people stay in their one home doesn’t surprise me at all, he’s backed by big monied interests and speaks only for them. That Obama has not is more troubling, because we hope (there’s that word, again!) that he has the best interests of everyman at heart.


I live in hope that he’s following the now-infamous Kim Campbell line “an election is no time to talk about policy”, but that might be just me being pollyanna. It’s entirely possible that a deal will be signed before the election and the next president will either be completely handcuffed by it or will roll over and pretend to be so as to not open up what could be an unruly can of worms.


Either way, without a real third alternative (and this is from an Obama supporter), the American taxpayer loses.


27 thoughts on “Why Dennis Kucinich needs to be a third ticket candidate

  1. Did you people learn nothing from the whole Ralph Nader ‘2000 debacle? Are you trying to create an opportunity for President McCain, or even worse (shudder) President Palin?


  2. Dan,
    Why should *I* have learned nothing if the bloody Democratic party learned less? After all, it wasn’t Ralph Nader that lost that election – it was the DNC that felt courting corporate interests was more important than listenting to the Left – the Lefties, after all, had nowhere else to go, right? I had some hopes that the Dems would have learned this back then, but no, and an election that should be a cakewalk is being made all-too-interesting.

    And in the meanwhile, progressive interests are largely being ignored.


  3. Yes, because it’s *much* more important to piss off the 40% of the population in the centre so that you can go for the 2% that supported Kuchinich in the primaries, not to mention the 2% that voted Nader in the last election – good math there.


  4. The fact of the matter is that I am responsible for exactly one vote, and one vote only, so whether it pisses off someone else, what of it? But the fact of the matter is that Al Gore didn’t lose anything in 2000 because of Ralph Nader – he couldn’t even carry his own state for christ’s sake!

    I think we’ve been through this before in a discussion on strategic voting (and on opposite sides!). It’s an even worse situation in the US – you have two real options, and unfortunately both of them are to the right of centre, and well to the right of anything I’d think I’d be comfortable voting. If I were to vote for a sensible third party, it would be in the hope that enough would so that the Dems would pull left in the future.

    In one of Michael Moore’s older books, can’t remember which one, he says that voting without real choice is like going to a restaurant with only one thing on the menu – eventually you just stop going. The real problem is not the 5% that vote third party (and hence non-strategicly), it’s the 50% that don’t vote at all because there are no useful options. Maybe one day there will be a real third option, but how will it happen if nobody votes for it?


  5. Blaming low voter turnout on only having 2 options is a pretty weak argument, Kev – there are a lot more options in Canada, and I don’t think the voter turnout here is any better. For that matter, it’s a poorly researched argument even for the States, since a quick look shows at least 3 other Presidential candidates – Cynthia McKinney for the Greens, Ralph Nader running Independent, and Bob Barr for the Libetarian Party. At least 2 of those, McKinney and Nader, fit your ‘left of centre’ demographic, so why won’t your 50% vote for them?


  6. Blaming Nader for Kerry’s lack of appeal is a pretty weak argument, Dan. John Kerry lost because he had no message separate from “I am not GW Bush”. Bush had a message of pure evil, true, but at least he had a message. Clearly the pure evil appeals to a large percentage of American voters (which explains the choice of Palin for VP).

    There are a couple of reasons why so few people vote for third party candidates in the USA:

    1) No exposure. In a country where television celebrity and image are more important than policies and intelligence, a candidate with no exposure has no chance at capturing a meaningful vote total. Anyone outside of the official two-party system gets no coverage outside of blogland. The same problem obviously exists in Canada, which is why this election is more about sweater-vests and moustaches than whether a Carbon Tax will work, or if we should implement Cap and Trade, or if maybe we should think about combining the best of both ideas to combat our carbon output.

    2) Fear! Voting for a 3rd party candidate will magically elect your sworn enemy!!! Then the world will collapse around you, and St. Peter will deny you entry to the Elysian Fields, while holding your ballot and mocking you!

    I’m sure there are other reasons, too, ranging from “We’ll lose our Earmarks” to “Seven generations of Smiths voted Democrat, and the Klingon way is to vote as the past seven generations, so I have no choice” (note: also a particular problem in Nova Scotia).

    If McCain/Palin win, they win largely because of exposure and a lack of any real substance in the election coverage. McKinney and Nader combined can’t do what FOX and CNN will do for them. As CNN/FOX did for Georgie/Vader before them.


  7. As Brian said, having three other candidates does not mean having access to three other candidates. If any of those three had reasonably similar access to the media as the two main parties, then perhaps they’d have a chance. Right now there are three options – Democrat, Republican, and third party/spoiled ballot. I put the latter two together because they are fundamentally the same if the third party has no chance of winning.

    Therefore, if your views are not being represented by anyone that has the remotest chance of winning, let alone getting in a relevised debate, voting looks like a pointless endeavour.

    You are right that we have more options in Canada, and I think that makes it that much more unfortunate that we don’t have appreciably better turnout.


  8. I was ready to believe you guys about not voting, but then I saw this video about the importance of voting – and sorry, but if I’m given a choice between listening to you or to Halle Berry, Sarah Silverman, or Eva Longoria – the hotness wins….


  9. It’s not me or Kevvy telling people not to vote, it’s CNN and FOX. Rather, it’s CNN and FOX telling people they only have two choices in the US election. I personally think that everyone should vote for McKinney or Obama, and fully reject McLame. Make the Repugnicans the third party.


  10. I dunno, Bri, maybe it’s a combination of the fact that because I have family in Quebec, I’ve accepted the fact that different geographies can have different viewpoints, and the fact that as a science-fiction fan I’ve learnt to accept being in the minority opinion-wise, but isn’t it possible, given the fact that:

    a. like or not, CNN and FOX do pull down better ratings than progressive news sources like Air America

    b. on a national level, even in primaries where independants could vote, Kucinich has never pulled down that many votes.

    isn’t it possible that the reason American voting skews to the right of centre is because, as a culture Americans tend to *be* right of centre?

    I’ll also add that if you’re defining a Robert Mugabe supporting, 9/11 conspiracy believer like McKinney as ‘progressive’, then that might also be part of the problem…


  11. I’m sorry, that came out a bit more confrontational than I meant to – I didn’t mean to suggest you personally were supporting McKinney’s views – I meant ‘you’ as a more generic term.


  12. You need to read new sources on McKinney. The Freeper-sponsored drive-bys are tiring.

    It is possible that American government is a reflection of American views. That is why I couldn’t stay there for more than two years. The overt racism, xenophobia, and the herd-like devotion to their Commander in Chief is fucking scary. It’s sad that people like Nader and Zinn can’t be heard over the harpy screams of the ditto-heads.


  13. Actually, I got her views on 9/11 and Mugabe from the Huffington Post – are you saying she didn’t make those comments? If you’re simply going to dismiss criticism of McKinney as ‘a Freeper-sponsored driveby’ then how are you any different from people ike Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin and their rants about ‘the liberal MSM’?


  14. So what’s the lesson here? Only freaks run for president? Two political parties and two candidates completely represent all of American political thought? Shut up and eat your democracy, dear, you know there are kids in Africa that don’t even get the little bit that you do?


  15. I dunno, Kev – I do think there needs to be better vetting of candidates. I’ll agree that under the present system, a 3rd party candidate has an uphill battle, but I doubt that going off on a rant is going to make their job any easier, any more than shrieking ‘Oh noes, Obama doesn’t agree with me 100%, therefore he’s a right-wing poopie-head’ really adds much to the discourse.


  16. I’m going to need quotes, because my google searches bring up the Weekly Standard and Free Republic. Two sources I don’t mind ignoring completely.


  17. Dan,
    I believe I did not shriek anything of the sort, and since I have reread my post and believe the message was fairly clear, I don’t know where that little throwaway came from. If “shrieking” is what I do here, consider this my last post and comment, as I don’t want to embarrass myself in public anymore or waste your time.

    My point is this -> buying out the banks that caused this stupid mess without regulating them is idiotic – if controls are not reinstated, serious controls, it will all happen again. Based on recent history, I have little faith that this will happen – the Democrats and Republicans together continued to deregulate the financial sector after the savings and loan debacle in the late 80’s, having apparently learned nothing. As Jon Stewart says (I paraphrase), “those who don’t study the past have the exciting opportunity to relive it”.

    I am not an economist, but I’ve been reading a lot from them in the last few weeks and the only thing that makes sense in the big picture is a New Deal style solution, which is exactly what Kucinich (and precious few others in the Senate or Congress) suggests – keep people in their homes at the expense of lost profits, but continued profitability, for the banking institutions, and then regulate the fuck out of them so it doesn’t happen again. Paul Krugman, on MSNBC the other night, says that he thinks that the banking system will actually have to be socialized totally by the government, at least for a time, it is so badly fucked up. (Picture for a moment a nation with socialized banking but not socialized healthcare.)

    As a lone voice of common sense, Kucinich has very little chance of making a difference – hence my fond desire to see him in the White House. If the electoral system is badly enough damaged that this is an impossibility, there is a serious problem that can’t be fixed by “working on the inside” (ie. voting Democrat). That’s the standard Democratic argument to the Left – work with us for this election and when we win we’ll take your concerns under advisement before dashing your hopes again.

    I have the greatest respect for Obama, and hope that he’s just playing a game with the electorate before winning the election and revealing his inner FDR/John Maynard Keynes. However, I’m not holding my breath.


  18. Kev, I didn’t mean ‘shrieking’ to apply to you – I meant people like Nader.

    Where you and bri see weakness in Obama, I see strength – one of the things I like about Obama is that he’s smart enough to keep his mouth shut instead of jumping on a bandwagon and coming up with a half-assed solution that solves nothing.

    Where you see genius and common sense in Kuchinich’s proposal – I see nonsense. It’s basically a feel-good, solve-nothing plan that instead of putting the taxpayer on the hook for the banks that made bad mortgage loans, puts the taxpayer on the hook for the people that took the mortgages in the first place. It doesn’t even begin to address the main issue, which is that American’s are living far beyond their means – I recommend you try reading Kevin Phillip’s “American Theocracy” . Lastly, a large part of that ‘regulation’ you’re pushing for, will consist of, among other things, making it much, much harder for people with bad credit to get loans, and if you think Kuchinich is going to allow that to happen, you’re sadly mistaken.


  19. Dan,
    I misunderstood your comment, obviously, sorry. However I disagree with your assessment of Kucinich’s plan. Regulation and tightening up credit is *exactly* what’s needed, and every politician that says they are pro-regulation is saying that very thing, though not in so many words, maybe.

    In order to understand the Kucinich idea, you have to step back from the problem a bit. The trouble is not that the banks are broke, it’s that they’ve over-leveraged their assets (for which we can thank the ahem, current secretary Frankenbot Paulson) based on the hope of fast money and profits on the high-interest mortgages. These profits just aren’t going to pan out. Period. Buying out the bank just postpones the misery *and* dehouses a bunch of people, whereas if you take the government bailout money and use it to refinance the most at-risk mortgages (about 10% of the market at latest count – yikes!), then the banks get *some* money, but take losses, and the people get to stay in their homes at a more sensible rate, at a much higher likelihood of being making future payments.

    How did we get here? Because poor folks started calling up banks demanding low-interest loans? No, because banks and other financial institutions (also part of the problem) were allowed to leverage their existing capital to a far greater extent, thereby letting themselves lend out far more money with far less assurance.

    Not in all cases is this the home-owners’ fault, they got in over their heads with bafflegab and bullshit from banks who got them at super low rates only to screw them later. Sure some people should have known better, but many of the people were plainly sucked in by salesmanship. Letting them keep their homes and punishing the banks, while keeping the banks alive (and more tightly reined) is a solid solution. Sure it will mean that fewer people will be able to get into the homeowner market in the future, but it might also prevent over-heated runaway markets like we’ve just experienced, making housing more affordable, if to slightly fewer people.

    I’ll write more later…


  20. So, because people were stupid and greedy enough to buy the hype that the housing market was going to go up, up, up for perpetuity, they should get rewarded with free houses? Sorry, not buying it.


  21. Some of them, yes, maybe took risks and deserve to lose, but many of them did not. Many of them did not know that they were able to buy a house and were bowled over by complicated options and don’t “deserve” it. However, the banks played a game they *knew* was risky, and definitely deserve it.

    In point of fact, if we are assessing blame, both the government and the banks that pushed deregulations despite warnings deserve it, however we are trying to stop a cascading bankruptcy that very well could drag *all* of us into a depression, deserved or no. What I’m saying is that there is a possible solution that both saves the banks (though maybe not some of their “performance” bonuses) *and* keeps more people in their homes.

    But we’re not talking about that because helping people is socialism, and according to you, Dan, they fuckin’ deserve whatever they’re getting.


  22. I didn’t say that helping people is socialism, Kev, I’m just not in favour of handing people blank cheques because they’ve overextended their credit. You also might want to try doing some fucking research outside of Daily KOS talking points, a large part of this mess is because of bank deregulation, yes, but a large part of it was social engineering on the part of the progessive left who felt it was unfair that that people had to put down downpayments on house purchases. The fact is that there’s plenty of blame to go around and blind fucking partisanship like yours, where critical skepticism is to be applied to the right only, doesn’t help.


  23. Dan,
    If you read back, you will *not* find that social groups pushed for bank deregulation, the direct cause of this, but banks did. Perhaps they jumped in after, I don’t know, but that only exacerbated the downward spiral that was allowed to begin when bank regulation flushed the toilet. The fact of the matter is, this would not have happened without banking deregulation. In any case, punishing the guilty is not the point, finding a solution that will work, is.

    If you read further about the various “help the homeowner not the bank” plans, most of them don’t involve handing out blank cheques and giving people their homes for nothing. They *are* talking about having the government help by forcing mortgage refinancing and helping pay the costs of refinancing; forcing banks to renogotiate more sensible mortgages, etc. The result will be more traditional 20- and 25-year mortgages that the homeowner will pay, not “free houses” for the masses. Banks will stand to make smaller profits on each mortgage, but more of them will stay out of foreclosure, hopefully keeping the banks, and the homeowners, afloat. Profits will be smaller, but they will continue to funtion as banks. Government financial involvement would be, in most cases, limited to the refinancing costs – banks charge you through the anus for re-negotiating terms during the term of the mortgage.

    The current solution, buying out the bad loans, divests banks of them, but leaves the government in the position of having to foreclose themselves, refinance, or eat the loss and give the people their homes for free or cheap. That means the taxpayer effectively pays the banks off for taking silly risks, and the everyman problem does not get solved, unless the government wants to cut the homeowners big deals, and yes, gives them houses. Which, apparently is verbotten, because those people deserve to be punished. And to boot, the federal debt grows still bigger, and since the middle class carries the bulk of the tax burden, it screws the same people again (and their kids, and their kid’s kids…).

    I don’t feel that it is being partisan, at least not overly so, to point out that neither the media nor major politicos were even considering alternet solutions to this very major problem. I’ve never been one to be overly diplomatic, but I think that I’m being reasonably open-minded in this case. Wow, how silly of me to suggest that a hastily-slapped together three-page $700-billion proposal might require a second look! (And by “second look” I don’t mean making it even sweeter, like they’ve just done.)

    This conversation has rambled so far from the initial point that I’m not going to comment any further on it. I feel like I’m just writing the same thing over and over, so I’m done. If you want an additional response from me on this topic, just reread this one and pretend it smells fresh and new. It is beginning to seem that you simply have a problem with me, and well, I can’t do anything about that.


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