As the mayor of Cleveland in 1978, Denis Kucinich resisted the privatization of the city’s publicly owned municipal electric system. As a result, banks pushed the city into financial default and his political career was ruined. But fifteen years later, the utility underwent an expansion and he was recognized for keeping the city’s electricity costs down in the end run.
Now, Kucinich sees a lack of wisdom in the the war in Iraq and its continuation. And in an end to the war, he sees the beginning of a new era for cities.
“There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But there are plenty of weapons of mass destruction here in the United States which need to be removed,” he told the crowd at Jesse Jackson’s Wall Street Project Conference last week.
Poverty, homelessness, joblessness and poor health care are all weapons of mass destruction in his eyes. “It is time to get out of Iraq,” he continued, “and into our American cities.”
Of Kucinich’s platform, the most unifying proposal between these two issues is his plan to create a cabinet level Department of Peace. The department would focus on reducing international and domestic violence.
At the international level, the department would seek to temper nuclear proliferation and strengthen nonmilitary means of peacemaking by augmenting the military with education and psychology skills; conflict resolution techniques; and civilian peacekeepers.
On the domestic front, it would tackle gang psychology, prison rehabilitation, school violence, substance abuse and domestic abuse.
“I see peace as being at the heart of this endeavor for the presidency. And I see peaceful cities as a basic right that people have in urban communities,” he declared in a speech to the US Conference of Mayors in June. “Let me speak as one who grew up with the the music of the night being gun shots and police sirens.”
The bill to create the department has been endorsed by Amnesty International and 32 local governments, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. 68 members of the US House of Representatives are cosponsors of the legislation.
“Mayors know that when violence breaks out in a community, people come to you ask, ‘What are you going to do about it?’ But we haven’t really had a national approach in dealing with violence,” he related.