Forced Loyalty Oath Locks Kucinich out of Texas Primary
“Chain, chain, chain …” The Texas Primary
Dennis Kucinich may not win the Democratic nomination for president, but he’s leaving a pro-democracy legacy across the country. To begin with, this candidate actually discusses critical issues demonstrating his respect for voters. With regard to the voters’ right to know, he just asked for the first recount in memory for a presidential primary simply because it makes perfect sense. The New Hampshire results need a serious second look.
Kucinich struck another blow for democracy by challenging the restrictive loyalty oath required by the Texas Democratic Party to get on the primary ballot. He actually reads the contracts he signs. When presented with the loyalty oath required to run as a Democrat in the Texas primary, Kucinich prudently edited the document to reflect the requirements of free citizens living in a democracy:
“I, ______________ of __________________, __________ County/Parish, _____________, being a candidate for the Office of President of the United States, swear that I will support and defend the constitution and laws of the United States
. I further swear that I will fully support the Democratic nominee for President whoever that shall be.”
Kucinich filed the marked up loyalty oath on Dec. 28 but wasn’t informed that it was “defective” until Jan. 2, 2008. His campaign received verbal notice that he wouldn’t be placed on the ballot unless he signed a clean copy of the oath. The new loyalty oath had to be faxed that day or no deal, according to the campaign. Rather than compromise, Kucinich said no. (Video at 3:59)
In his initial Complaint for Declaratory Judgment and Injunctive Relief, Kucinich was joined by a Texas “qualified elector,” Willie Nelson (Image). The complaint argued that the requirement violates both the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment“1. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (Image)
“5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” Sections 1 & 5 Fourteenth Amendment
The concern expressed by Kucinich was simple. If the eventual Democratic nominee supports the Iraq War, signing this oath would require Kucinich to support that nominee and therefore the war. To make matters worse, supporting the war would negate his duty as a Member of Congress to protect and uphold the Constitution. Like a few others, Kucinich knows that this is an unconstitutional war since it was never declared by Congress (See Article I, Section 8, “To declare war”). What other choice did he have but to reject the loyalty oath? What justification did the other candidates have to accept the oath?
The complaint failed in the lower Federal courts and was immediately appealed to the United States Supreme Court on Jan. 17. A day later, the court refused any intervention leaving Kucinich off of the Texas ballot.
Democracy’s Champion among the Candidates
Dennis Kucinich is the one consistent advocate for expanded democracy and measures to fight election fraud among all of the presidential contenders. Kucinich has a strong record as an advocate for working men and women by promoting civil rights, voting rights, and human rights at home and abroad. He’s never shied away from taking both principled and practical positions on elections. These are, after all, the essential element to achieve his goals.
His call for a recount in New Hampshire was without rancor or negative speculation. He simply recognized the problem, invoked the right to recount, and paid the bill.
In Texas he’s fighting a loyalty oath that would clearly restrict his free speech after the election. While the Texas Democratic Party leaders did their best imitation of apparatchiks, Kucinich answered with the simple truth in essence saying: You will not obligate me to support an illegal war by making me support a pro war candidate.
In the 109th Congress, Kucinich provided a solution to the problems of chaotic and highly questionable elections when he introduced a bill requiring the hand counting of paper ballots for the 2008 presidential election. The Paper Ballot Act of 2006 was elegant in its approach but profound in impact. Had it been adopted, we would not likely have the problems and questions we have right now:.
‘(A) The State shall conduct the election using only paper ballots
`(B) The State shall ensure that the number of ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location which are placed inside a single box or similar container does not exceed 500.
`(C) The ballots cast at a precinct or equivalent location shall be counted by hand by election officials at the precinct, and a representative of each political party with a candidate on the ballot, as well as any interested member of the public, may observe the officials as they count the ballots. The previous sentence shall not apply with respect to provisional ballots cast under section 302(a).’
From his first days on the national stage, Kucinich has stood for the people and against the interests of greed and exploitation. In return for his efforts, he’s been ridiculed and marginalized. Most recently, MSNBC went out of its way to make sure he couldn’t take part in a televised presidential debate.The network simply formalized the increasingly obvious rule of network and other mainstream media outlets: the closer a candidate is to truly progressive positions, the greater the media blackout. The corollary to this rule entails limiting what little national exposure occurs to only those reports that ridicule and demean the candidate.
When an intellectually honest history of the Great Bush Decline is written, the role of the Kucinich platform and campaigns will stand well above the rest as the path of reason that the “leaders” were afraid to walk.