WASHINGTON – As Democrats fear a wave of losses in next Tuesday's elections, due in part to a lack of enthusiasm within their base, one progressive champion made an impassioned plea for liberals to head to the polls and and vote.
"We can get out there and make our voices heard, or we can let the forces of nihilism take over," Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told Raw Story in an exclusive interview late Tuesday afternoon.
The Cleveland Democrat warned progressives that a Republican takeover of the House of Representatives – a likely scenario, according to election experts – could surrender the levers of power to "megalomaniacal neoconservatives who are more in need of mental attention."
"There's no question about it," he said. "We have to vote."
Kucinich, a seven-term congressman who seems to be in no danger, sympathized with liberals who are disenchanted with the Democratic Party, but insisted they must "work within the system" to achieve the results they want, arguing that tuning out wasn't a better solution.
"I would never try to minimize their concerns. I understand them," he said. "I wish we had broader options. I certainly don't like our political system, but I'm not prepared to walk away."
If there's anyone in Congress who shares liberal misgivings about the Obama administration, it's Kucinich. From health care to the economy to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, he has been outspoken about his criticisms. "But this election is a choice," he said.
Studies reveal that both of the major parties are unpopular with the public – some even say Americans still prefer Democrats – but polls consistently show that Republicans are far more likely to vote next Tuesday.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal survey last week found that Republicans are more likely to head to the polls on Nov. 2 than Democrats by a whopping 20 percentage points.
Kucinich, who ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2004 and 2008, said he doesn't envision any circumstance in which he'd run again in 2012.
"I don’t see it," he said. "I think anybody who runs against Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination would be handing the presidency to the other party on a silver platter."