I am leaving/I am leaving/But the fighter still remains
-Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer"
What better lyrics to quote than those immortal lines from Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon's "The Boxer" to describe a tragic defeat? The news from last night was not good. I'm not talking about the Republicans and Super Tuesday.
I'm talking about Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who lost in the Ohio Democratic primary yesterday to Mary Kaptur.
Since 1997, Kucinich has been a tireless advocate for the poor, minorities, working families and progressive reform. He has also been a voice for the voiceless: Animals.
Kucinich is the only vegan in Congress. Moreover, he has spent years sponsoring and supporting animal-friendly legislation. Kucinich has demonstrated "a career-long commitment to animal welfare and active leadership on these issues," said the Humane Society Legislative Fund, the lobbying branch of the United States Humane Society. (Source)
As the Cleveland Plain-Dealer noted:
The group applauded Kucinich for co-sponsoring a law that bans commerce in videos showing the torture of live animals for the sexual titillation of viewers, as well as legislation that would crack down on puppy mills, establish federal penalties for dogfights and cockfights, and phase out the use of chimpanzees in invasive medical research. Kucinich's wife, Elizabeth, who works as public affairs director for Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, has been an outspoken advocate of the chimp protection bill. (Source)
In the days leading up the primary election, record executive, humanitarian, vegan and GlobalGrind.com founder Russell Simmons offered the following impassioned plea for Kucinich:
While we watch the Republicans try to drag our country further and further to the Right, there is no other congressmember who fights for a more compassionate America than Dennis. He wants everyone to have healthcare, affordable higher education and quality, sustainable jobs. During his entire political career, he has been a champion for peace and a powerful anti-war activist. He has shown compassion for the planet and all of the animals that inhabit it. He has stood up for the gay community and other under-served communities who often times are forgotten about on the House floor. He has always protected the rights of African-Americans and Latinos, even when it wasn't in his best "political interests." Dennis Kucinich is the People's Congressman. He cannot be bought and sold by any special interest group or any lobbying firm. He goes to work everyday for the people of his district and of this great nation. He has never taken for granted the rights he was given, as he has always fought for the rights of everyone. (Source)
Representative Kucinich's defeat yesterday was indeed a depressing moment in American politics, but not exactly a surprise. The political landscape in Washington, D.C. is not always kind to genuinely humanitarian progressives and gadflies like Dennis Kucinich.
And his defeat comes at a bad time for animals, as more and more state legislatures are trying to pass "Ag-Gag" laws banning videotaping and photographing inside of factory farms and slaughterhouses.
But the fight goes on. Kucinich never gave up. We shouldn't, either. The stakes are too high. Human lives and animal lives hang in the balance. Kucinich understood that human rights and animal rights are two sides of the same coin. One without the other is meaningless.
He'll be missed. But his example will continue to inspire others. On his Facebook page today, Kucinich quoted from an old 19th Century treatise called The Scripture of the Serene Life (1857), by J.W. Lloyd. The words are worth repeating here:
Live truth, work excellence, reach toward your ideal, but trouble not your soul about the meagerness of material results, for all spiritual laborers work along invisible lines to unforeseen and universal results... they always seem to miss their aim and always hit a larger and more eternal mark. Let all things move freely around you, and float you, on eternal currents. (Source)