Why Workers World is endorsing Cynthia McKinney for president
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney at the Free Mumia rally in Philadelphia on April 19, 2008.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney at the Free Mumia rally in Philadelphia on April 19, 2008.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire File Photos
Workers World newspaper in the past has supported the candidates of Workers World Party running for national office in the U.S. presidential elections and who have put forward a revolutionary socialist program. This time we are taking the unusual step of endorsing the candidacy of Cynthia McKinney because these are unique times and this is a unique candidate.
McKinney, a courageous Black woman and former U.S. Congresswoman from Georgia, has become one of the most militant leaders and voices for the U.S. left, progressive and Black movements.
Because of her militancy in the struggle against the war, the struggle to impeach Bush, as well as her struggle to expose the government’s role in the displacement of survivors of Hurricane Katrina, she was branded too Black and too radical to walk the halls of Congress. She was pushed out, not once but twice, by the leadership of the Democratic Party. Last year, McKinney severed her ties to that party.
On July 13, McKinney and her running mate, activist Rosa Clemente, won the Green Party’s nomination to run for president and vice-president, respectively. The Green Party’s nomination will put McKinney on the ballot in about 20 states, which is no small thing in the U.S. where the ruling class has made it very hard for any electoral formation independent of, and even slightly to the left of, the two major ruling-class parties to get ballot status. However, the Green Party is incidental to our support for McKinney.
McKinney’s “Power to the People Campaign” gets most of its program from the draft program of the still-in-formation Reconstruction Party. Activists in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, together with supporters nationwide, have been developing a Reconstruction Party as a mass political vehicle to fight for the reconstruction of the Gulf and justice for Katrina survivors.
The draft program of the Reconstruction Party is inspired by the program of the original Black Panther Party. The Reconstruction Party draft program calls for, among other things: self-determination for Black people, the relocation of displaced survivors of Katrina back to the Gulf, jobs, healthcare and housing, reparations for Black people, an end to racist terror and political repression, an end to the prison-industrial complex and an end to the war.
McKinney’s campaign is laying the foundation for a radical coalition of Black, Latin@, Asian and Indigenous activists, trade unionists, progressives and revolutionaries. This is important and timely.
We have no illusions regarding the difficulty that McKinney’s campaign will face, because this presidential election is like none other before it.
The economic crisis and prospects for class struggle
Barack Obama is the first Black person to be the nominee of a ruling-class party, and he could be the first Black president of the U.S. Many are understandably excited about Obama’s candidacy, especially Black people.
No matter how far Obama moves to the right, most likely Black people are going to come out in unprecedented numbers in November in the hopes of achieving something that very few thought possible a year ago. Apart from Black voters, many others will vote for Obama in November for reasons that are historically progressive. And some will not vote for Obama because of his name, because they think he's Muslim and because he's Black.
Race or what some of us call the National Question is central to this year’s election. Race, or what some of us call the national question—that is, the right of self-determination for oppressed nations, like the Black nation inside the U.S.--is central to this year’s election.
But then there is the negative side to this contradictory development. Should Obama win the election (a prospect that shouldn’t be considered certain), the U.S. imperialist ruling class will have a gifted Black politician to help them save their troubled empire. An Obama presidency as the face of an imperialist state will not change anything fundamental, but on the surface it will mark a change, a new situation.
The U.S. capitalist class desperately needs to try something new to help them with their overlapping crises of deepening economic turmoil and imperialist war. In the board rooms of Wall Street, some are, no doubt, hoping that someone like Obama can delay or derail an uprising against widespread depression-level social conditions, or at least be the scapegoat for the unbearable misery that the ruling class has in store for workers.
The Obama phenomenon is more than anything else a sign that the period of political reaction, which has held the working class back and weakened revolutionary movements, organizations and their revolutionary ideas, is coming to an end.
No matter who wins the election, the magnitude of the spiraling crisis of world imperialism, centered here in the U.S., is going to challenge all the forces who share an anti-imperialist, working-class-centered socialist orientation to put aside narrow views, sectarian habits and small differences that have festered during a long and demoralizing period of world reaction.
The material conditions for resurgence of the working class may sooner than later reach levels not seen in this country since the 1930s. In order for the working-class movement to grow politically and organizationally, it will take time, experience in the class struggle, and the assistance of conscious political forces who are dedicated to reviving the struggle.
What is required of all of us who consider ourselves among the dedicated? At a minimum it is a higher level of clarity, seriousness, confidence, solidarity and coalition building.
McKinney’s campaign is Black-led, anti-imperialist, working-class-centered and has a multinational radical base with the potential of unlimited growth.
Of course, we believe that the struggle should not be confined to the electoral arena, especially as the capitalist ruling class completely dominates the electoral process. We must be in the streets fighting the war, fighting foreclosures and evictions, fighting in solidarity with immigrant workers, etc. However, Workers World believes that supporting the McKinney campaign is a step forward towards the path that the movement needs to take.
McKinney & Clemente: Black, Brown, Green and True
by BAR (Black Agenda Report) executive editor Glen Ford
"The overarching necessity for Black America - and therefore, for the entire nation - is the rebirth of a Black-led mass movement for peace and fundamental social change."
"The Green Party was against the war when it started, is against the war now, and is against any military action against Iran that might take place tomorrow," declared former Georgia congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, accepting the Green Party's presidential nomination, in Chicago, this weekend. "The Green Party is a peace party. A Green vote is a peace vote."
McKinney's statement is unequivocally true, a verity beyond question, as is her own deep commitment to social justice, tested and manifested during her 12-year sojourn in Congress. The 53-year-old activist and educator, whose last act as a U.S. Representative was to submit Articles of Impeachment against George Bush, not only speaks "truth to power" (or, as she puts it, "truth to empower), but demands that truth be the essential element of all American political discourse.
There is nothing quaint or convenient about The Truth. In a nation ruled by the raw power of money, the Lords of Capital market their own versions of truth designed to make wrongs seem right, and criminality appear normal. The corporate casting couch supplies political actors to mouth attractive untruths as required by the imperatives of Capital. Some of these actors are extremely talented, compounding the dangers they present to society. At every opportunity, they stomp on truth as if it were vermin - and for each vanquished truth they are paid a bounty in parceled power and prestige. U.S. presidents are manufactured in this way.
"The corporate casting couch supplies political actors to mouth attractive untruths as required by the imperatives of Capital."
Truth thus becomes a precious commodity in 21st Century America. At the Green Party podium, Cynthia McKinney reached back to the year 1851, when Black abolitionist Sojourner Truth asked a white crowd a rhetorical question for which only one answer was conceivable: "Ain't I a woman?" Having focused her audience on a simple truth, Sojourner proceeded to explicate the burning issues of the day: "Well children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter."
Truth is compelling, in any epoch. "In 2008, after two stolen Presidential elections and eight years of George W. Bush, and at least two years of Democratic Party complicity, the racket is about war crimes, torture, crimes against the peace; the racket is about crimes against the Constitution, crimes against the American people, and crimes against the global community," said Cynthia McKinney, relating well-known but relentlessly suppressed truths. "The racket is even about values that we thought were long settled as reasonable to pursue, like liberty and justice, and economic opportunity, for all. Yes, Sojourner, there's a lot out of kilter now, but these two women, Rosa and me, joined by all the men and women in this room, are going to do our best to turn this country right side up again."
The truth alone cannot set you free, but it will at least tell you what time it is.
"The only way I can even begin to accept this nomination is that I must understand that I am just a vessel, a representative of the work of an entire generation, and the Hip-Hop radical activist movement," said vice-presidential nominee Rosa Clemente, a South Bronx native of Puerto Rican parentage. The 36-year-old journalist was a key organizer of the 3,000-strong, 2004 Hip Hop Political Convention, in Newark, New Jersey. The delegates, all of whom paid their own way, drew up a Hip Hop Political Agenda that remains eminently compatible with the Green Party and "Power to the People" platforms under which Clemente and McKinney are currently campaigning. (A second Hip Hop Political Convention took place in Chicago in the summer of 2006.)
"The racket is about war crimes, torture, crimes against the peace; the racket is about crimes against the Constitution, crimes against the American people, and crimes against the global community."
"I stand on the shoulders of a generation of young people of color that are united, that clearly understand that we are suffering form structural racism, institutional racism and capitalism," said Clemente. These are truths that Barack Obama, the corporate Democrat, would rather end 20-year friendships than accept. Obama allows the celebration of his candidacy to serve as a vindication of historical and contemporary racist rule. In fact, his ascension is fully endorsed (and financed) by the overwhelmingly white Lords of Capitol.
No recess of reality is safe from corporate sanitization. In this election cycle, conducted amid overlapping, terminal crises of late-stage capitalism, the heroes are those who challenge the corporate media's endlessly looped lies - key elements in the structural supports that keep the evil edifice from crumbling outright. Heroines like McKinney and Clemente.
"I don't see the Green Party as an alternative," said Clemente. "I see it as an imperative."
A True Choice
"We are in this to build a movement," McKinney told her jubilant Chicago crowd. "A vote for the Green Party is a vote for the movement that will turn this country right-side-up again."
Had she chosen to do so, McKinney could have remained in the Democratic Party and attempted to recapture her House seat, outside Atlanta, as she did in 2004 after a two year absence. But the overarching necessity for Black America -- and therefore, for the entire nation -- is the rebirth of a Black-led mass movement for peace and fundamental social change. Without a movement, the corporate version of reality triumphs by default -- not just through the two-business-party electoral racket, but in all aspects of life in which human beings must somehow locate themselves in the real world.
Much more is at stake than the Green Party's goal of garnering five percent of the presidential vote, which would make the Greens eligible for federal election funds next time around. Corporate hegemony is the enemy of the self-determination of peoples and individuals. It seeks to subdue every relationship except those of corporate ownership and control, and capriciously alters the terms of even those shrunken arrangements, at will. The current multiple crises afflicting humanity are all rooted in the commodification of the Earth's resources -- including human beings. There is no choice but to resist the crushing grip, at every level of human activity.
"National Black politics has effectively disintegrated, stripped of all issues other than Obama's own fortunes."
In Black America, which is the vital epicenter of any progressive national politics, the Obama phenomenon -- a species of seductive invading organism that feeds on centuries of pent-up Black aspirations -- has already dangerously disrupted the African American political consensus on peace, social justice and the validity of the Black historical narrative, itself (the Obama-Rev. Wright clash). Obama has caused Blacks to suspend the disbelief (healthy distrust) that has been at least a partial defense against white snake oil salesmen over the years. National Black politics has effectively disintegrated, stripped of all issues other than Obama's own fortunes. It is as if an entire people were reduced to the property of one, thoroughly dishonest man - in the service of another Man.
Obama's cynicism, his deliberate ambiguity and outright manipulation of ALL people -- but especially African Americans -- debases the morals of his desperate followers. In a remarkably short period of time they have come to accept half-lies as clever, and well-crafted untruths as things to be admired. To justify Obama's behavior, Blacks accept that all "politicians" say whatever they must in order to win office, and attach no moral onus to that, even when it is Blacks who are the ones being lied to and defamed.
Obama has sanctioned -- sanctified! -- opportunism of the most base kind. He has brought corporate and anti-Black values into the African American house, in ways that no combination of previous scoundrels could have dreamed.
"Those who delivered us into this mess cannot be trusted to get us out of it."
The McKinney-Clemente message is one of struggle, not blind hope and amorphous change. In the presidential candidate's words:
"Today's reality is harsh. But what's even harder for many to accept and admit is that our quality of life today is the making of the Democratic and Republican Parties. What our country has become through their public policy is reflective of their values. We will never get a United States that is reflective of different values if we continue to do the same thing. Those who delivered us into this mess cannot be trusted to get us out of it. That's why I signed up to do something I've never done before so I can have something I've never had before: My country, made in the likeness of the values of the Green Party."
That party is now headed by two Black women, one a Latina, who consciously seek to transform it into a vehicle for 24-7 movement politics PLUS effective electoral activity. That is the historic opportunity. The Democrats would have you waste your vote on an actor employed by corporations.
As Rosa Clemente reminded the Greens in Chicago: "We must remember the words of the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass: 'I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false.'"
Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente: Building a Movement for REAL Change
By LARRY PINKNEY
(Black Commentator Editorial Board Member)
Something magnificent and truly extraordinary happened at the 2008, Green Party Presidential Convention a few days ago in Chicago, Illinois. Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente; two dynamic, highly intelligent, experienced, and politically committed women of color were chosen by the Green Party of this nation to be its nominees for President and Vice President respectively, of the United States of America. Former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney who demonstrated the guts and integrity to leave the politically opportunist and bankrupt Democratic Party has, for quite some time now been yet again demonstrating her guts and integrity by crisscrossing this nation and informing people in every nook and cranny about the "Power To The People" Campaign. Now Sister McKinney has been joined by Puerto Rican people's grass root activist / journalist / and intellectual hip hop artist Sister Rosa Clemente in this ever growing campaign and people's movement and struggle. Indeed, something extraordinary has happened and there is yet more to come.
While CNN, ABC, C-SPAN, etc. did give some limited coverage of and to this incredibly momentous event; none of the pundits of these so-called "main stream news" media outlets dared elucidate to the "American" people the enormous present-day and historical significance and opportunities of what just happened in Chicago. None of these pundits dared explain and emphasize the revolutionary aspect of what had just happened in Chicago: That the Green Party and the Reconstruction Movement this past weekend, in selecting Cynthia McKinney as their primary standard bearer, is a stinging rejection and rebuke of the Democratic and Republican Parties [i.e. the Republicrats] with their putrid, hypocritical, corporate / military apparatus-fueled politics of dishonesty, subterfuge, smoke & mirrors, and unending wars abroad and increasing economic disparity and social misery at home. The sleeping dragon, consisting of the rank and file, everyday woman, man, and child in this nation, has finally begun to awaken once again.
The Empire, including its Democratic and Republican Party surrogates, has been put on notice by politically conscious Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples of this nation of who are sick and tired of being hoodwinked, manipulated, and politically blood sucked. What happened this past week end in Chicago is a wake up call to all persons of good will: Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow!
By supporting the candidacies of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente we are supporting a people's movement -- our movement for real, fundamental, "systemic" change, not mealy-mouth meaningless / feel good rhetoric. We are self-actualizing our hopes and dreams, not allowing others to pimp and manipulate us by playing on those hopes and dreams. We are supporting the very best in ourselves. We are laying the foundation in 21st Century "America" for a genuine and ongoing people's movement that says NO to the corporate / military / prison apparatus of the U.S. Empire at home and abroad.
We are supporting so much more than only candidates for political office -- we are supporting our commitment to the building of an uncompromising, unswerving, people's movement that is unhindered by this system's Democratic and Republican [i.e. Republicratic] Party election time lines and political machine. We are refusing to collaborate with this Empire's system of oppression. Rather, we are working to dismantle it and build a fundamentally and systemically different system that addresses human needs, not human greed. We are emphatically stating that we will not sit back and allow principled, intelligent, revolutionary / politically progressive, honest, and for-real women to be by-passed and ignored any longer by this system in "America."
By supporting the Cynthia McKinney / Rosa Clemente "Power To The People" Campaign we are making it crystal clear that we will intensify the struggle the dignity and human rights of all people: women, men, and children -- Black, Brown, Red, White, and Yellow -- all peoples.
To be sure, the U.S. Empire's corrupt and biased news media disinformation machine can be expected to go into high gear in an effort to discredit and neutralize the McKinney / Clemente ticket and the "Power To The People" Campaign. Indeed, these slimy tactics have already begun. However, such tactics merely confirm the absolute importance of what we are committed to and what this movement is all about.
For those who may not have seen and heard Cynthia McKinney's acceptance speech on C-SPAN at the Green Party Convention this past July 13, 2008; it is urged that you turn on your computer's speakers, view her presentation, and hear her remarks and those of Rosa Clemente on the internet at C-SPAN.org under the heading Green Party Presidential Convention (July 13, 2008).
The "Power To The People" Campaign is the only one to boldly and seriously address not only the issues of militarism, economic disparity, social and environmental inequities, single payer health care, government malfeasance and neglect, corporate greed, equal opportunity and education, racism, reparations, gender parity, and homelessness, etc; but just as importantly, this campaign is about building an ongoing movement to fundamentally address the root causes of these pressing concerns. The twin demons of the Empire, i.e. the Democratic and Republican Parties [increasingly known as the Republicrats] and their accomplices, are in opposition to any real systemic change. Thus, every conceivable means will be utilized to deter this campaign, its ultimate movement, and objectives.
We must get out into our towns, cities, and municipalities of all kinds with one fundamental objective: Getting and putting the "Power To The People" Cynthia McKinney / Rosa Clemente Green Party ticket on the ballot in high numbers in every viable state of this nation, while simultaneously building and nurturing this people's movement. Let us start voting right now by organizing to support Cynthia and Rosa in the streets, the back woods, the schools, on the reservations, in the barrios, ghettos, and every possible nook and cranny and community of this nation. WE ARE NOT COLLABORATORS AND WE WILL NOT COLLABORATE WITH THE EMPIRE IN OUR OWN OPPRESSION OR THAT OF OTHERS. Organize, organize, and organize some more!
We are the people and it is WE ourselves who are the essence of, and motivation for, real change. Let us call out to our sisters and brothers in Haiti, in Venezuela, in Bolivia, in Cuba, in Palestine, in Myanmar, in the Congo and throughout the entire world. Let us send them a message of comradely greetings and let them know that we are reawakening from slumber here in the belly of the Empire. We have seen their examples and are emulating them for the mutual betterment of all our peoples.
We must build coalitions that serve the interests of the people. We must pry open the systemic, strangling, amoral death grip that the Democrats and Republican Parties [i.e. the Republicrats] have around our proverbial necks and minds. We must work together with the Reconstruction Movement which began around the despicable U.S. Government criminality of both the Republicans and Democratic Parties re hurricane Katrina (and subsequently hurricane Rita). Being Green is just the beginning. We must keep in mind that there are also other progressive peoples out there in parties such as the Peace & Freedom Party, and we must work together with them to the mutual advantage of the people's movement. We must remember that "no one of us is as smart or as strong as all of us."
We must remember our sister and brother political prisoners, liberation fighters, and exiles such as Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Reverend Edward Pinkney [no relation], the San Francisco 8, Assata Shakur and so very, very many more. We must remember why we are waging this struggle. This is about more than votes. This is about our very survival and that of Mother Earth - this planet.
This is about saying NO to the Empire and its collaborators, and YES to a NEW DAY a NEW SOCIETY, a NEW WORLD. This is about struggling to be that NEW PERSON who self-actualizes and addresses human needs, not human greed, lies, and hypocrisy.
Viva Cynthia McKinney! Viva Rosa Clememte! Long live "The Power To The People' Campaign! Let's get busy brothers and sisters. "Each one reach one". There is much work to be done!
BlackCommentator.com Editorial Board Member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker , by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn].
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RALPH NADER ISSUES STATEMENT ON CYNTHIA MCKINNEY'S NOMINATION
Washington, DC: Independent Presidential candidate Ralph Nader issued the below statement today on the Green Party's nominee for President of the United States, Cynthia McKinney.
"I want to congratulate Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente on winning the Green Party nomination for the Presidency of the United States. I wish them well and hope they go into all 50 states and spread the message of the Green Agenda. The country needs a diversity of voices that are unrelentingly progressive, forthright, candid, and documented in good sound civic values and the wellbeing of all the people.
"Third party candidates usually are more forthright and they highlight social justice issues that are regularly ignored or contravened by the two major parties. As history shows from the anti-slavery Liberty Party of the 1840's to the women's suffrage and farmer and labor parties up to the early 20th century, eventually the big ideas of these little parties break through.
"Although the Nader/Gonzalez and Green Party platforms have many similarities, we are not competing for votes, but instead we are allies joined in a common struggle to tap the huge and growing numbers of millions of unsatisfied voters who want to vote for something better than the lesser of two-evils. The more progressive voices and choices, the more widespread will be the definition of freedom as participation in power.
"In Cynthia McKinney, the Greens have an energetic and courageous candidate unafraid to challenge America to be better for the millions who are marginalized, overcharged, underpaid and ignored by the two-party duopoly. Her vim and vigor offers the Green Party an excellent chance to break through in 2008 and provides voters one more viable alternative to the DemReps. I wish her and Ms. Clemente good luck."