Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, pushed Madison supporters to advocate against policies that help corporations in a speech Tuesday.
Kucinich, a former presidential candidate, spoke at the Barrymore Theatre about “fighting back” against multinational corporations that have outsourced jobs and government austerity policies.
“You have to look at the role of corporations today, and we’re not talking about mom and pop delicatessens here,” Kucinich said. “We’re talking about global corporations whose flag is not red, white and blue. The color of their flag is green. … They are about the offshoring of jobs and the offshoring of taxes.”
He also called austerity policies a “virus descending on our country” that have impeded the government from creating jobs the private sector cannot fill.
Kucinich said Madison, where tens of thousands of protesters were at the Capitol two years ago, is an appropriate place to stage that fight.
The former representative emphasized change in Washington, D.C., has to come from the people and will never come from Washington itself.
He said progressives need to “break free of the psychology of victimization” and organize themselves into a powerful movement. Only then, he said, would they be able to overcome unfavorable redistricting or the recent Citizens United decision that allowed corporations to influence elections more.
“We need to reorganize,” Kucinich said. “Movements need to become visible again. We cannot be — and I know you’re with me on this — but we cannot nurse these resentments about our conditions in the silence of our homes.”
Kucinich lost a Democratic congressional primary in 2012 after he was redistricted out of the district he had represented for more than a decade. He said although people assume Republicans did this to him, Democrats were actually at fault.
Parties, including his own, are not perfect, especially given the influence of money on the political system, he said.
One example of this, he said, is when Democrats retook the House of Representatives in 2006 and promised an end to the Iraq War but continued to fund it. This was part of Kucinich’s critique against the nation’s lawmakers spending too much on defense.
“Who are we as a nation?” Kucinich said. “How did we become this military juggernaut and forget about the people here at home?”
Another example he gave of a flawed Democratic Party is when they took a public option for health care off the table, leading to a package that gave insurance companies more customers. Kucinich, after meeting with President Barack Obama five times, said he ultimately and “reluctantly” voted for the package to show that changes could occur.
Kucinich spoke as part of an event from Wisconsin Wave, a group protesting against Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce during WMC’s two-day convention.
Adam Porton, Wisconsin Wave field director, said protesters are trying to convince small businesses WMC does not stand for their interests.
WMC spokesperson Jim Pugh contested this characterization, noting its 3,500 members and WMC’s policies ensure businesses create jobs for Wisconsinites.
“We’ve got businesses of all sizes from local proprietors to larger companies,” Pugh said. “We help businesses by advocating policies that make Wisconsin more competitive by controlling taxes and regulations and lawsuits. We work to make Wisconsin a better place for business.”