|Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich
September 7, 2002
This is the time. This is the place.
This is the place to begin a national movement for renewal, for peace, for reconciliation, and for justice.
Wisconsin, the workshop of political wonders! This is the time and this is the place where we begin to slip from the hold which terror has on our minds and our hearts. On Wisconsin! Our presence here is the call for a political philosophy which is constructive, transformative, and transcendent. A philosophy based on moral principles and enshrined in law. These self-evident truths of inherent equality of all, the rights of all, and the connection of all are the highest creative forces recognized in our Declaration of Independence, written into our Bill of Rights, and actively present in the soul of every American and freedom-loving person. This is the time today, to reconnect with the highest purposes of our nation.
This was a gift. This was the gift of our founders: A new nation with the ability to adapt to the future of our dreams. Now is the time to restore that gift through traveling with faith and with courage, to follow the upward spiral path to the unseen heights of human endeavor; to create an evolutionary politics of creativity, of vision, of heart, of compassion, of joy; to create a new nation and a new world using the power of love, of community, of participation, to transform our politics, and yes, to transform ourselves.
As we begin, let us recall the power of a dream. "We are such stuff as dreams are made on," wrote Shakespeare in The Tempest. Let us recall the dreamers, the architects of new worlds, as we reflect on the power of our plans to bring architecture and substance to our dreams.
Let us today seek to find that place within each of us where dreams are made, where our highest aspirations take shape. Let us confirm the power of our humanity by giving architecture and substance to the dreams we have for our nation. That the promised land of social and economic justice that is within our dreams will soon be within our sight.
We seek a newer nation, in the spirit of Bob La Follette who said "America is not made, it's in the making." And when he said that, years ago in 1924, as an independent progressive candidate for President, you and I know there was one major city that he carried in this nation. One major city that matched this major state, and that city was Cleveland, Ohio. So it's good to be here today, reconnecting with that progressive position, which is where we all ought to be in this nation. Wisconsin shows the way; Cleveland replies.
Let us remake America by reconnecting with a higher purpose to bring peace within and without, to come into harmony with nature, to confirm and to secure the basic rights of our brothers and sisters.
Ours is a worthy purpose which can be addressed through addressing the practical aspirations of all people for economic opportunity, for peace, for jobs, for a living wage, for education, for housing, for health care, for clean air and clean water, and for retirement security.
Let us remake America through calling for establishment of a Department of Peace. It is time to make non-violence an organizing principle in our society for domestic as well as international policy.
The only weapon that can save the world is non-violence, said Gandhi. We can begin this practice today, not only here in Wisconsin as you do, but all over this country by calling upon the administration in Washington to stop the talk of war, stop the planning for war, stop the bombing, and stop plans for an invasion of Iraq!
The American people do not want war on Iraq!
The American people want peace.
They do not want war on Iraq!
Iraq did not cause 9/11. Iraq is not connected with Al Qaeda. Iraq had no connection to the anthrax attacks on our nations. There's no evidence Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, or the ability to deliver such weapons if it had them or the intention to do so.
There is no reason for war against Iraq. Stop the drumbeat. Stop the war talk. Pull back from the abyss of unilateral action and preemptive strikes.
It is time, instead, to explore more peaceful, consistent rhythms of the language of peace, of cooperation, mutuality, of recognition that all people - all people - have a right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.
America should reach out to the global community to establish global security, work with the nations of the world, work with the United Nations. We should use our allies - allies like Russia which just concluded a forty billion dollar trade agreement with Iraq - to begin anew honest negotiations for honest weapons inspection.
The time has come for us to end the sanctions against Iraq, because those sanctions punish the people of Iraq because they have Saddam Hussein as their leader. We should end the sanctions against Iraq which have been instrumental in causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children. We should also drop the self-defeating policy of regime change.
Policies of aggression and assassination are not worthy of any nation with a democratic tradition, let alone a nation of people who love liberty and whose sons and daughters sacrifice to maintain that democracy.
The question isn't whether or not America has the military power for victory. The question is not whether America has the ability to destroy Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The question is whether we destroy something essential in this nation, by asserting that America has the right to do so anytime we well please.
America cannot and should not be the world's policeman. America cannot and should not try to pick the leaders of other nations. Nor should America and the American people be impressed into the service of international oil interests and arms dealers.
We must work to bring Iraq back into the community of nations, not through destruction, but through constructive action worldwide. America, with the international community, can help negotiate a resolution with Iraq which encompasses unfettered inspections, the end of sanctions, and the cessation of the regime-change policy. America can do this. We have the power to do this. We must have the will to do this. It must be the will of the American people expressed through the direct action of peaceful insistence, and this is the place to begin that. If we begin this in any place in America, begin it here!
We must change the metaphor of our society from one of war to peace. The Department of Defense now requires in excess of four hundred billion dollars for its activities. A Department of Peace can be an effective counterbalance, redirecting our national energies towards non-violent intervention, mediation, and conflict resolution on all matters of human security.
A Department of Peace can look at the domestic issues which our society faces and often ignores as we focus on matters international, because we have a problem with violence in our own society, and we need to look at it and address it in a structured way. And so a Department of Peace on a domestic level would look at issues of domestic violence, spousal abuse, violence in our schools, police-community relations, racial violence, violence against gays: that entire social pathology which is reflected in a nation which doesn't live up to its potential.
And yet we know, Americans have proven over and over again we're a nation that can rise to the challenges of our times, because our people have that capacity. And so, the concept of a Department of Peace is the vehicle by which we express our belief that we have the capacity to evolve as a people, that someday we could look back at this moment and understand that we took the steps along the way to make war archaic. War is not inevitable. Peace is inevitable!
This is our birthright, as citizens of a common planet. This is our birthright as citizens of a democracic society.
Today, America's attention is riveted on whether or not we're going to war. America's attentions would be much better placed if we found a way to bring universal health care into our society.
In my district, senior citizens tell me about the high cost of prescription drugs. Drug companies are marking up those prescription drugs ten and twenty times. People are splitting their pills in order to try to make prescriptions last. They're forgoing meals in order to make their prescriptions last.
We need an America that is humane enough to recognize the basic needs of our own people. We have the ability and we certainly have the resources to do it. We must have the will. America has much work to do.
We have much work to do as a nation among nations. America should be leading the way in international cooperation.
I just came back from Johannesburg, South Africa at the World Summit on Sustainable Development. I will tell you that nations around the world are waiting for America to participate in world efforts to deal with the challenge of global climate change. It's time that we did!
It's time that we begin to have an International Criminal Court, a biological weapons convention, a chemical weapons convention, and to recognize in all areas that international cooperation is the path to the future. International cooperation is the path of peace. International cooperation is the path that all Americans want to take. We have to insist our leaders take us in that direction.
It's time for peace. It's time for cooperation.
It's time for recognition of our interdependence. It's time for realizing the human family as one. What affects any one of us affects all of us. Our brothers and sisters in some faraway lands rely on us for attention, for conscious application of our hearts and our concerns about their rights. They rely on us for food. They do not rely on us for bombs. We should not be sending them bombs!
Today, in Wisconsin, here in Baraboo; you have the opportunity to restart the American evolution. To cause our country to evolve into a country which truly cares about the economic progress of all people.
We're at an important moment in this country's history. It's a moment when we cannot afford to be on the sidelines. We have to be involved, with our heads and with our hearts and with a passionate belief in the destiny of our country and the destiny we still have to fulfill in realizing the dream of democracy. Of not simply political democracy, but of economic democracy, because you cannot have a political democracy until you have an economic democracy.
So our efforts must be for corporate accountability, for making sure corporations pay a fair share of the taxes; to make sure that people who work for a corporation have their pensions protected.
Our efforts have to be directed at the functions of those engines of international corporate capitalism: those organizations embodied in the World Trade Organization and the IMF. We must make sure that we take a strong stand on behalf of workers' rights and human rights and environmental quality principles in all of our trade agreements. It's essential.
It's time that we reclaim the power of the American people and begin the federal chartering of corporations.
And it's time we begin to reclaim our government. Senator Feingold made a valiant effort and needs to be applauded and congratulated. What we need in this country, once and for all, is public financing of elections. Take the corporations out of it!
Yesterday I joined with members of Congress in New York City in a special commemoration. For the second time in more than two hundred years we met in New York City in Federal Hall. We were there in solidarity with the people of New York and all those people everywhere who lost loved ones on 9/11.
And as we sat there in Federal Hall, as the Star Spangled Banner was being sung, I thought of those words of Francis Scott Key, who wrote "Oh say, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
In his writing, he connected, plaintively, freedom and bravery. Every time Americans sing this, we need to remember: to remain the land of the free, it will take courage.
Oh say, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Does it? Does it? Does it?
We begin today to renew this country, to bring this country back towards an upward path. The future of humanity can be secure, because we stand for democratic values. Because we stand for peace and because we stand for social and economic justice. Because we care enough to challenge our government in a moment of crisis to set our government back on the right path.
God bless you and Wisconsin for all that you have done in renewing a long tradition for progressive politics to ensure that the conscience of America remains alert to the challenges of the present day and the challenges of the future.
God bless America, and God bless Wisconsin.
Thank you very much.