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The single-issue voter: A birder’s look at Dennis Kucinich – D – OUT

August 27, 2007
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It’s that time again. As civic-minded individuals do, I’m oft interested in how the platforms of those running for president affect my life, that’s as a birder naturally. With so many candidates and elections still more than a year off I decided to do the work so you, dear reader(s), don’t have to. So here’s what I hope will be a regular look as those who would be birder-in-chief. Starting with the long-shots and working my way up so that you all will be prepared when the time comes to cast your ballot. The fifth part of The Drinking Bird’s
however-many-part series.

Ok, so the truth comes out. The reason I started at the bottom of the presidential polls was so I could make sure to get Dennis Kucinich into the mix, even though recent polls place him between 1-2%. The perennial underdog, the boy mayor, the one guy who actually seems to take environmental stewardship seriously without having to relate it to oil. Kucinich- the birder’s friend. I harbor no illusions of objectivity here. It’s my blog and if I think a candidate is a jerk I’ll say so. Likewise if I think a candidate is the real deal, well then brother, I’ll say that too. The priorities that determine who I vote for are more than just those that effect birds. But I won’t deny that issues of environmental importance do weigh heavily on my mind as a birder and lifelong conservationist. On those grounds, Kucinich is way up there, and here’s why.

As a congressman from Ohio, Kucinich has been a an active and outspoken supporter of environmental causes, earning an 92% from the League of Conservation Voters (not to be confused with the League of Conservative voters, where he likely wouldn’t score as high). Many of his votes were on the bird side of such issues as drilling in ANWR, weakening of the Endangered Species Act, and perhaps most bird-friendly, continuing to fight the Bush administration’s plans to accelerate development of wetlands. Kucinich argues that overdevelopment of wetlands destroys natural pollution filters and increases flooding. Left unsaid but no less important, is the question “where would we go see rails if there were no wetlands”? Nowhere, that’s where, and Kucinich seems to be keenly aware of that.

Candidate Kucinich looks at many issues from an environmental point of view. He opposes the trade agreements NAFTA and CAFTA, stating that they only encourage Central American countries to continue their environmentally lax agricultural practices involving rampant deforestation and questionable pesticide use. The pesticide DDT, banned in the United States for its effect on bird populations among other things, is still used widely throughout Mexico and Central America. Many species of birds who summer in the United States either migrate through or winter in Central America. There’s only so much that can be done to protect neotropic migrants in the United States and for the welfare of these birds, Central and South America must be involved as well. He proposes an outright ban on mining, logging and resource extraction from all public lands and encourages sustainable water use through the strict enforcement of water and air quality laws, cessation of water company privatization, and rewarding of environmentally responsible farmers and businesses, great for the populations of grassland birds hit hardest by industrial agriculture.

Kucinich is the only candidate save Mike Gravel thus far who eschews ethanol and biofuel in favor of more efficient, conservation based energy sources and expressly states that the energy companies should not be driving policy (especially about driving policy, naturally), a simple statement but one lost on other candidates. He is the only candidate who seems to understand the interconnectedness of each plank of his platform and environmentalism as an ethos rather than just an issue.

A Kucinich presidency would be good for birds and birders, and I suspect would be good for other things too.

Next: The Rep-o man…

Update 1/25/08 – Kucinich has dropped out of the race

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