Dennis Kucinich proved his antiwar bona fides over 16 years in the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat from Ohio and two campaigns for the Democratic Party presidential nomination. In a new interview with host Chris Hedges at The Chris Hedges Report, Kucinich discusses some of the pressure members of Congress are under that helps ensure that few members speak out against war like he did.
Monetary contributions to the Democratic Party, Kucinich suggests in the interview, are a key reason why antiwar voices are now absent among Democrats in the House who he notes have, in contrast with Republican members, voted unanimously for funding the Ukraine War. Kucinich states that he thinks the Democratic Party’s determination 35 or 40 years ago to take corporate donations contributed much to quashing antiwar action by Democratic members because, “in Washington, he or she who pays the piper, you know, plays the tune, and that’s what’s happened.”
A ”new benchmark” in “slavish obedience to the status quo within the party” in support of war was reached in October, Kucinich asserts, when a group of Democratic House members, after encountering some pushback, quickly retracted their letter to President Joe Biden in which they had requested that Biden consider seeking a diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine War.
Kucinich also notes in the interview the funding of congressional campaigns by the “arms industry” that is “making money hand over fist with the expansion of war” contributes to the limiting of antiwar advocacy in Congress. But, Kucinich adds that such funding is “not all it’s about.” Also important is the influence on Congress members’ constituents of a “heavily mediated environment which supports war.” Kucinich explains:
The request to fund a war goes into the larger, heavily mediated environment which supports a war, and, if you stand against the funding, then your constituents who may be great Americans look at that and they say, “Well, why aren’t you supporting America?”. And I think that members of Congress are always concerned about being caught betwixt and between on what their constituents think as opposed to the doubts that they have.
Another factor Kucinich explains puts pressure on Congress members to support war fueling spending is advocacy from businesses in their districts that profit from such. States Kucinich: “So, what happens is, when the Pentagon budget comes up, there are a parade of various businesses — small and large — who will make appointments with the congressperson or staff and lay out how many jobs are in the district and how important it is to a district business to have this budget passed.”
Further, notes Kucinich in the interview, “peer pressure” and “herd instinct” affect Congress members looking up at the vote board and seeing all the pro military spending and prowar votes coming in from fellow members. This encourages wavering members to fall in line and vote the same way.
Summing up the situation Congress members are in, Kucinich states that “it’s a rare individual” who will risk his political career by acting counter to the “enormous pressure.”
Watch Kucinich’s interview here.
Kucinich is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.
Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.