The Skinny on McKinney

{Published in the Black Agenda Report’s September 3rd, 2008 Edition}

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney left the Democratic Party one year ago and has since politically reincarnated herself as the 2008 presidential candidate of the Green Party. In an election that has seen the first major party African-American presidential candidate in Barack Obama, and more recently the first Republican woman Vice Presidential candidate in Sarah Palin, McKinney and the Greens have also put forth a first in electoral politics. When Rosa Clemente, a Puerto Rican Hip Hop journalist and activist, accepted McKinney’s invitation to be her running mate, the Greens assembled the first all women of color presidential ticket. The two together are heading a “Power to the People” campaign that has recently garnered the endorsement of peace mom Cindy Sheehan. Returning to an electoral goal vigorously set out by the Greens and Ralph Nader in 2000, McKinney-Clemente are seeking to win 5% of the national vote to secure major party status. The most recent Zogby online survey shows the ticket polling at 1%

I spoke with Cynthia McKinney during a recent campaign stop and asked her about her political platform and electoral strategy:

GSR: Why did you leave the Democratic Party last year and are the reasons something voters should look at in considering your candidacy?

CM: The Democratic party probably left me a long time ago before I realized it. I left the Democratic Party because it has failed during the time that it has had a majority in the Congress to provide us a livable wage, and a single-payer health care system. It has failed to repeal the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commission Act, failed to repeal the Bush tax cuts and in fact the hallmark of the Democratic majority in Congress is failure. Therefore, when I took an inventory of my values alongside the values of the policies that were being implemented in Washington D.C. it was very clear that the Democratic Party no longer reflected my values. I decided to do something that I hope other people will follow suit as well. I declared my independence from the national leadership that had made our country so complicit in crimes against humanity, crimes against the peace, crimes against the global community, and crimes against the American people.

GSR: Define victory in this election for your candidacy. What does victory mean for the Green Party and how do you propose to achieve it?

CM: We define for ourselves what victory is. As my running mate Rosa Clemente stated, the Green Party is not an alternative party. The Green Party is the imperative party. This country does not have an opposition party any longer – if it ever did. Now what we are sure of is that the American people do not feel confident that the two corporate parties that are being touted so well by the corporate media actually reflect what they want for their country. That’s why 85% of people when polled said that they know that this country is on the wrong track. What we need is a different set of values making public policy in this country. I believe that the values of the Green Party are reflective of the majority of this people in this country.

GSR: Can you talk about the core issues that define your candidacy away from the two major parties?

CM: Of course, we already mentioned a livable wage, a single-payer health care system, a Medicare for all type of delivery system. Of course, the Congress has voted to spend 720 million dollars everyday for war and occupation. That’s above the 1/2 trillion dollars the Pentagon gets in so-called defense spending. Consequently, we are seeing more and more of hard earned tax dollars being sucked into a war and military industrial complex that doesn’t serve the aims, objectives, ends and interests of the people of this country. We want to see an end to the militarization of U.S. policy. We want to see a restoration of the Bill of Rights. We want to see a roll back of those infringements as I said with the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Commission act. We could go on. We want to see an end to the Drug War and an end to prisons for profit. We want to see an end to the private operation over our U.S. currency as it is now with the Federal Reserve. Most people don’t know that the Federal Reserve isn’t federal at all. It’s private.

We also are not afraid to talk about race and gender in this country. The Green Party took as its 2004 platform position the fact that this country was built on genocide of indigenous people. We think it’s outrageous that the United States did not support the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Rights. The 2004 Green Party platform discusses the facts about reparations and the fact that the economic foundation of this country was based on the enslavement of Africans. Of course, we know that the two corporate parties and the two presumptive nominees have said that reparations is not something to to be discussed. The status of women is something also that needs to be discussed. It’s definitely something more than cleavage and whether or not a woman wears a skirt when she is campaigning for public office. The fact of the matter is that women wake up every morning and they go to work equally equipped as their male work counterparts and yet at the end of the month, they bring home less money. When women and men together decided that they were going to declare their political independence from the current political order that denied women the right to vote, we understand that it took seventy-two years. So what we are hoping to kick start in this country is not only that the Green Party becomes the opposition party, but that the Green Party becomes the vanguard of the movement for justice that this country so desperately needs.

GSR: Barack Obama picked Senator Joe Biden as his choice for a running mate. You, on the other hand, picked Rosa Clemente. What do you make of Biden as Obama’s vice presidential candidate and why did you tap Clemente’s shoulder for your own ticket?

CM: Joe Biden represents more of the same so that’s certainly not change. It doesn’t give me hope. He has gone along to get along with the status quo politics in Washington D.C. that have lead to the current situation that we are facing now. On the other hand, we have this young, dynamic Afro-Latina Puerto Rican Boriqua woman who is from the Bronx where the founding of the whole Hip Hop culture started – now I know Brooklyn has something to say about that! Here we have Rosa Clemente, an activist, who at the same time is a scholar, journalist and mover and shaker within the Hip Hop world. I’m very proud to be able to wrap my arms of mentoring around a young woman who definitely has leadership qualities. The only thing I can say is thank you to the Green Party. Thank you to the visionaries of the Green Party who twenty years ago decided that they were going to be willing to step outside of the two party box that represents behavior control and thought control and that they were going to create a new agenda and new paradigm for this country. That new agenda and that new paradigm now welcomes Rosa and me. It’s a wonderful thing and I thank the members of the Green Party for doing so.

GSR: How do you seek to redefine sources of electoral power come November?

CM: My political career started in the state of Georgia as a member of the Georgia Legislature. When I ran for that particular position, the corporate press all touted the fact that I was not going to win and yet we were able to win. We won because of people power. We went outside the existing electorate. We brought new people in. That is, of course, one of the hopes that we have with this campaign. We hope we are going to bring new people into the political process and let them see the efficacy of their vote. Now how is it that we can do that? We have to talk about the fact that we are operating in a political environment that lacks election integrity. One of the things I have been able to say quite convincingly because of the precedent set four years ago by the Green Party and David Cobb is that the day after the election when there are reports of disfranchisement and fraud, the Green Party is going to be there when the Democratic Party capitulates. It was in 2000 that we know that the voters of this country gave the Democrats the White House and instead they didn’t even fight for the victory that the voters gave them. They capitulated to the Republicans and allowed George W. Bush to assume the presidency. Again in 2004, John Kerry promised that we would not see this kind of action on behalf of the Democratic Party that took place in 2000. In 2004, on the very next day, even as the reports were coming in from Ohio, John Kerry conceded. He gave up once again. He gave up the White House, so that George W. Bush could continue this reign of terror on people inside of this country and outside this country.

So now comes 2008. We understand that there are already efforts afoot to disenfranchise certain populations through the Voter ID laws that have been passed in various legislatures as well as with voter caging. Voter caging is just a fancy way of saying you show up at the polls on election day and you find out that your name is not on the voter list. What is your recourse? You have none. You don’t get to vote. If you have the opportunity to cast a provisional ballot, there’s no guarantee that the provisional ballot will be counted. We still have to deal with the electronic voting machines. The ills of the 2000 election remain with us. The ills of the 2004 election remain with us. New ills have been placed on top of those ills for the 2008 election. It will be the Green Party and activists across this country who will demand election integrity and who will move from protest to resistance. That is what we have to do now.

GSR: You mentioned protest. Define a vote for Cynthia McKinney in this election. Is it a protest vote or something more substantive?

CM: It’s a values vote. What we are asking people to do is vote their values. I am so proud to say that at a recent meeting with Rosanne Barr she said, “I’m sick and tired of being put in a box. I’m going to vote my values. I’m going to vote Green.” We invite people to join the Power to the People campaign. This is a campaign that seeks to include everyone. We want to draw from every population that feels that somehow their values are not represented by the powers that be. They are not represented by the two corporate parties. They are not represented by any other way, shape, fashion or form. And so perhaps the Power to the People campaign and the Green Party can express the views and the values of people who want peace for a change. They want ecological wisdom for a change. They want social justice for a change. They want real democracy for a change. That’s what the Green Party vote represents and so I invite everyone to vote your values and vote Green.


One response to “The Skinny on McKinney

  1. this is great! I think a Mckinney/Clemente ticket is definitely something out of the box and extremely refreshing. both the greens and dems are doing something historical. or at least they were doing something historical until the republicans joined in. women and people of color are major players in this year’s elections.

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