Rep. Dennis Kucinich
California Democratic Party Convention
Sacramento, California
March 16, 2003


[Singing] My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of the I sing.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.  [some applause]

America, America, God shed his grace on  thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.

Crown thy good America, with brotherhood and sisterhood. [applause].  Crown thy good America, with an American vision consistent with our finest aspiration.  The direction of the world is toward human unity and peace.  The ancient fantasies of nation-states for conquest and empire must give way to this advancing tide.  Our understanding of human unity, of the interdependence and interconnection of all people informs us that a great nation will [inaud.] history through the force of it's ideas, not the idea of it's force.  [applause].

My name is Dennis Kucinich, co-chairman along with Congresswoman Barbara Lee of the Congressional Progressive Caucus [applause], the largest caucus of Democrats in Congress.  I spent most of the last year organizing 126 members of Congress to vote against the President's Iraq resolution.  [applause].

And because I'm the ranking Democrat on the oversight subcommittee which has jurisdiction over national security, the Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the State Department, I know Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11, with Al Quaeda's role in 9-11 or with the anthrax attacks on our country.

America has a right to defend itself, but Iraq did not attack America [cheers].  According to published reports, according to published reports, the CIA says Iraq has no intention of attacking the United States; Iraq has no nuclear capability; it's missiles cannot strike the U.S.; and U.N. inspectors cannot verify the Administration's claims that Iraq has usable biological and chemical weapons.

The question facing the world at this very moment is not whether Saddam Hussein is moral, it is whether this nation will forfeit its moral authority by violating the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, and the U.S. Constitution by launching thousands of rockets against a broken people, destroying their lives, their families, their homes.  [cheers, chants "No war!"]

Somehow this madness must cease, said Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 35 years ago.  I speak for those whose land is being laid waste to, culture is being subverted.  I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in [inaud.].  This is a moment when contradictions necessitate questions and moral clarity.

America has billions to destroy the health of the people of Iraq, but no money for health care for 41 million uninsured Americans.  [cheers].  America has billions to retire Saddam Hussein, but no money for retirement security for all Americans.  [cheers].  America, America has money to blow up the bridges over Tigris and Euphrates, but no money to rebuild our bridges here at home.  [cheers].

All of this, all of this in the name of eliminating phantom weapons of mass destruction.  Mr. President, I was a child of America's inner city neighborhoods and I have inspected weapons of mass destruction, and I am calling upon your administration to eliminate them in a nonviolent manner.  Joblessness is a weapon of mass destruction.  [cheers].  Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction.  [cheers].  Hunger is a weapon of mass destruction.  [cheers].  Poor health care is a weapon of mass destruction.  [cheers].  Poor education is a weapon of mass destruction.    Discrimination is a weapon of mass destruction.  [cheers continue].

We have weapons of mass destruction we must eliminate at home, Mr. President.  [cheers].  Stop this war!  Stop this war!  Stop this war before it starts.  Bring home our troops.  Bring home our troops.  [chants: "Stop this war!"]

We understand when the administration asks for support for the troops, they really mean support for the war.  Let us support with gratitude our loved ones who serve.  We know they're fearless, ready to put their lives on the line.  [cheers].  Californians, let us support the troops, but not the mission.  [cheers].  Let us support the troops, but not the administration.  [cheers].  Let us support the troops by bringing the troops home alive and healthy.  [cheers].

The administration is calling on Americans to support the troops, but have they support the troops who have served?  Veteran's health benefits cut.  Six month wait to get medical assistance.  Doubling of co-payments for prescription drugs.  Seventeen thousand new nursing home beds needed, been cut by a thousand beds.  No money in the budget for shelter for 250,000 homeless veterans.  The administration however has asked for $180 million for new cemeteries.  Support the troops indeed.  [boos].

We must take the trillions we would waste in the war, failed defense systems and tax cuts and instead provide for universal, single payer national health care for all.  [cheers].  We must rescue the uninsured and the insured from a cruel system which exists only for profit, and not for people.  We must protect Social Security from privatization all or in part.  This administration wants to put your retirement funds in the stock market perhaps to invest in the next Enron.  [boos].

We must bring the retirement age back to 65 so that minorities with lower life expectancy are not deprived of the fruits of their labor.  [cheers].  We must have programs to rebuild America's cities and its infrastructure to create a full employment economy with a living wage for all Americans.  [cheers].  War would deprive us of the opportunity for a domestic agenda.  Californians, our economy is already a casualty of this war.  Unemployment and oil prices are near record highs, consumer confidence is falling, a $500 billion trade deficit represents a crisis of incredible proportions, which will undermine further the American economy and reduce our status to that of an impoverished nation.

Experts cannot dispute this truth.  The question is when it will happen, in our lifetime or in our children's'?  America must borrow money to pay for the trade deficit and for the interest on the borrowing.  Economist Lester Thurow points out the interest payments will grow until they're so large they cannot be financed even by the sale of American assets and that America will lose control of its own economy.  Then the structural adjustment policies of the IMF will come to America in the collapse of the American dollar, high prices, loss of jobs, cuts in wages, cuts in health care benefits and reductions in Social Security.

This must not happen.  I believe it is time to regain control of our own economy.  Over 300,000 of the 3 million jobs lost to NAFTA were in California.  As president, I will cancel NAFTA and the WTO.  [cheers].  And the only trade agreements we will enter into will be bilateral trade agreements where countries agree to buy as much from the U.S. as they sell to us, and our trade must be conditioned on worker's rights, human rights, and environmental quality principles.

The advancing tide is towards human unity, but human unity needs to stand on a platform of economic justice and the United States can lead the way to an economically just world where we address the issues of human scarcity and corporate exploitation directly through our trade policies.  [cheers].

The advancing tide is toward human unity.  War is wrong in Iraq without the U.N. and it is wrong with the U.N.. [cheers].  It is wrong with the U.N. with the U.S. brandishing a fist in one hand and bribes in the other in its blind rush to Empire, in its blind rush to Empire and control of oil and water in Iraq.  The administration says let's destroy the United Nations itself.

We must instead strengthen our international institutions so that we can effectively contain tyrants and work to integrate all nations back into the world community.  The United States must lead the way in a world toward nuclear disarmament.  That is the promise of the non-proliferation treaty.  We must sign the biological weapons convention, the chemical weapons convention, the small arms treaty, the land min ban treaty, and participate in the International Criminal Court.   We must step forward to rescue our global environment and lead the way towards implementation of the Kyoto climate change treaty.  [cheers].

If the U.S. would [inaudible word] lead toward the development of alternative energies and sustainable agricultures, we have it within our power to save our nation and to save the world.  We have it within our power to make nonviolence an organizing principle in our society through the creation of a Department of Peace. [cheers].  We have it within our power to move towards transformative change, to make war itself archaic.  California has always been on the cutting edge of change in America and in the world.  I'm asking California to help me lead the way into the America of our dreams.

You might ask other than using the web to organize at, how could an unknown congressman from Ohio be elected president of the United States.  Californians, millions of Americans are gathering for peace, for a new direction for America and the world.  My candidacy is a response to their call.  Those individuals are a strong majority of our party and are members of third parties who are ready to return to us.  Open up the big tent to them.  [cheers, inaud.]  Each of these individuals represents a powerful center of energy, each represents a belief that one person can make a difference, that we can change the outcome.

In 1968, Senator Robert Kennedy spoke at Capetown, South Africa concerning the yoke of apartheid, which some believed would never be lifted, just as today some believe war is inevitable and will always be with us.  He said to the students, Each time a man or a woman stands up for an ideal, acts to improve the lives of others, or strikes out against injustice, he or she sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.  And crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples can create a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

You and I are ripples of hope [inaud.] across the darkness of war.  Let us with love of country bring the light of truth and the light of peace to our nation.  California, there is not better time than now.  Thank you for your support.  [cheers, chants "Kucinich"].