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Why Not Support the Department of Peace?

Why hasn’t even one Republican co-sponsored H.R. 808, this year’s legislation to establish a Department of Peace? The legislation even has a clause promoting “faith-based” exchanges between nations, something I’d just as soon see taken out of the legislation, but the sort of thing that Republicans usually love to endorse.

So why don’t they support the Department of Peace? Actually, I can see perfectly well that why they don’t support the legislation, and it’s for the same reason that I feel uncomfortable with the faith-based clause. Representative Dennis Kucinich, the author of the bill, has packed his legislation full of ideologically-motivated details. Not content to create a Department of Peace, Kucinich appears to want to direct its activities as well.

Kucinich loses my support for the legislation by insisting upon government sponsored religious exchanges. Government has no business establishing religious programs like that.

The legislation loses the support of lovers of the second amendment with the clause establishing field programs to “develop new approaches for dealing with the tools of violence, including handguns, especially among youth”. Kucinich didn’t need to stick the word “handguns” in there, but he did, and so he alienated a large number of potential supporters.

Then Kucinich added a clause specifically directing the Department of Peace, after it is established, to “develop new policies to address violence against animals”. I can see why Kucinich would include that within the jurisdiction of the Department of Peace, but I can also see why many farmers would worry that this clause would initiate radical changes in agricultural policy, images of Department of Peace regulators dancing in their heads.

There are clauses for violence against women, violence against gays and lesbians, violence against the elderly, violence against children, violence against spouses, gang violence, school violence, police-community violence, and violence involving crimes. I’m not saying that these kinds of violence are not problems. They are, but they’re not problems because of the sort of violence they are. The problem is violence, period.

If Kucinich is going to write legislation to direct the Department of Peace to deal with violence against certain types of people, then he needs to include all types of people, to be fair. If Kucinich is going to direct the as-of-yet-non-existent Department to deal with certain types of violence, then to be fair he needs to include all types of violence. That, of course, would be a very silly, and at the same time quite impossible, effort. He would need to have clauses for violence against beauticians, and violence against short people, violence against music groups, violence against herpetologists, violence across state lines, violence involving a sausage, violence during a snowstorm, and violence in the presence of wild animals.

With every such specificity, Kucinich would run the risk of further alienation. The wiser course, which Kucinich couldn’t perceive, would be to keep the legislation simple. Just establish the Department of Peace, with a broad scope of developing policies and programs that promote peace internationally and domestically, and then hire administrators to micromanage it. It’s a beautiful irony that this legislation, which purports to promote peace, does not work well with others.

That Republicans and Democrats are withholding support for Kucinich’s legislation to establish a Department of Peace is not a sign that they don’t support peace. It’s a sign that they don’t support creating a new cabinet Department just to promote the individual agenda of Dennis Kucinich. In the end, that’s what this legislation would create: A U.S. Department Of Stuff That Dennis Kucinich Cares About.

If Dennis Kucinich really wants a Department of Peace, and isn’t just trying to make a statement, then he needs to withdraw his legislation, cut it down to bare essentials, and introduce it again. If, on the other hand, Kucinich is trying just to make a statement, well then why doesn’t he just quit Congress and get a talk show?

6 comments to Why Not Support the Department of Peace?

  • qs

    There isn’t on part of our Federal Government that is worth keeping let along making new parts!

    • “One part” you mean? Not one single part? So, what’s the private equivalent of the National Institutes of Health? You want to do just do away with that? How about the National Weather Service? If you think that’s a worthless institution, then explain why local meteorologists depend upon it. Think before you speak, qs. You want to do away with the Congress? With the Supreme Court? With the Presidency? With the Constitution?

  • qs

    Nope, there is not ONE PART worth keeping. I prefer the idea of 50 independent States. It’s called decentralized power.

    But in those states, I would not be opposed to anarchist governments in some of them if that’s what they wanted.

    This is why I dislike the idea of having a U.S. military because Bush was to inept to have that much power, and now Obama has it which might be even worse.

  • qs

    Also you can always switch countries if we begin to lose political and economic freedom (I think the two are tied together.) So I think the world still has a good competition going between governments, but there are language and cultural barriers so this hinders people’s ability to switch nations. Plus there are a limited number of really free countries…most of them are semi dictatorsruling class run so there aren’t a lot of good choices.

    That’s why I’ve always been partial to TOTAL State sovereignty especially with Obama in office this is all the more apparent.

  • This is one of the few posts I’ve read about the Department of Peace where it’s obvious the author has actually read the bill! Well done, Peregrin.

    I agree that the legislation (HR 808) contains some language for some of Mr. Kucinich’s pet causes and that it could be pared down a bit. I’m not going to try to speculate on his motives for including this language. However, as with all new legislation, the introduced version is just a starting point. The idea is to get enough supporters so the bill gets discussed in one of the committees it’s been assigned to, and that’s where the crafting takes place that would define what the envisioned DOP would look line once implemented.

    If you think the DOP is a good idea, I’d challenge you to craft a version of the bill that reads the way you think it should – with enough meat to define the vision but without the superfluous language – and submit that to Mr. Kucinich or your local Representative.

    Personally, I’d like to see the name changed to “Department of Peacebuilding”. The word “peace” implies an end state, not the difficult work it’s going to take to get there. Peacebuilding is what the department is really about. Also, “peace” carries a lot of baggage with conservatives – images of blissfully meditating hippies wearing tie-dye, for example.

    Finally, I know I said I wouldn’t speculate, but I’m guessing Mr. Kucinich chose “Department of Peace” as a title because “DOP” is a lot easier to remember than “DOSDKCO”.

    (BTW – There was one Republican cosponsor on the DOP bill in the 110th Congress – Rep. Wayne Gilchrest from Maryland.)

  • Jon

    Mr. Wood
    One of the few times I agree with you. Don’t let that bother you though, I am sure it will be one of the few time this happens.

    “That Republicans and Democrats are withholding support for Kucinich’s legislation to establish a Department of Peace is not a sign that they don’t support peace. It’s a sign that they don’t support creating a new cabinet Department just to promote the individual agenda of Dennis Kucinich. In the end, that’s what this legislation would create: A U.S. Department Of Stuff That Dennis Kucinich Cares About.”

    Well said indeed!

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