Rep. Dennis Kucinich
May 3, 2003
(in Columbia, SC after his speech to the SCDP Convention)

Democracy in Action: Can you talk about that time between when you were mayor and when you got back in politics and how do you view that whole period in your life?  Was it the wilderness years?  Did you get some positives--?

Well they were wilderness years, and of course everyone who's ever been out in the wilderness knows that those can be the most important years of your life because you get an opportunity to take stock in what's the most important thing in life.  It's not holding an office, frankly.  You know offices come and go, but principles endure, and what I learned is that all the things that I worked on as mayor of Cleveland and standing up for the people's right to own their own electric system, over a period of time truth, crushed to the ground, rose again.  The truth endured; my willingness to fight for the people endured and I came back to public life 15 years later as a state senator.

Can you run through some of those things you did in that time?

Well you got to remember that when I was mayor of Cleveland, I challenged the most powerful corporate interests in Ohio--the largest banks, the largest utility--and I challenged them.  I refused to sell our municipal electric system.  Now after I challenged them--

You had a hard time getting a job from what I've read--

Well let me tell you.  Imagine being mayor of a city and having difficulty finding a job in your own city; imagine being somebody who graduated with about a 3.9 average out of graduate school out of 4, later on named one of the top 50 graduates of the communications program at Case Western Reserve--couldn't get a job.  Now was it because I didn't know anything?  No.  It was because I knew a lot, and I knew that if you challenge entrenched corporate power, and you're a public official you take a risk.

And yet at this time in American history it is so important that someone be in the White House who's ready to challenge the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned about, who's ready to keep the challenge that Teddy Roosevelt started against the monopolies in America.  So this is the time in American history where mmy background can be very important to turn the White House back to the people.

I just want to get a little sense of how you got your bearings.  You're out of office.  What's the first thing you do?

Listen.  It's not like it all came together at once.  I just worked every day to try to rebuild my life, that's all.  I taught for a while--


At a community college, at Cleveland State, at Case Western Reserve.  I toured the country speaking, did some work on a book--



Is that manuscript in a drawer somewhere?

Still in the drawer.

What's the subject?

Well it's about the effort to save a municipal electric system from a corporate takeover.

Well that ever see the light of day?

Oh sure; could see the light of day before this election.

I developed my own communications company; I consulted with various communities on how to establish their own electric system.  I worked as a radio commentator and then as a TV reporter and commentator...  So, and I did a lot of traveling, a lot of thinking, and I didn't really know for sure that I'd ever have a chance to come back after that really tremendous struggle of public against private good.

Did you go overseas at all during that time?

Yes, one of the opportunities I has was to do some marketing of a software product that game me an opportunity to go to Italy and the Netherlands and Scandanavia.  So I had a chance to travel, but it was really not so much to travel as it was when I just kind of stayed put for a while and reflected on my own life and my desire to be of service to the people, and the consequences of taking the stand that I took in Cleveland of standing up an speaking out on behalf of the public interest.  You know, I always thought when I did that that you do the right thing, it always works out.  Well it took a long time to work out.  It took 15 years for it to work out.  It took me 15 years to have a major comeback, and I appreciate that I have the chance to serve right now.

But if people today in Americ are looking for someone who has met the test of standing up to corporate power, of not yielding, of not giving up what is dear to the public, I'm the one who's met that test and I'm ready for the White House.

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