|US presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney
In an appeal for Arab American financial support, she said she hopes that one portion of the community’s political strategy can be aimed at helping to give viability to an alternative political voice.
Gaining five percent of the vote in the election would secure federal funding for future candidates of the party.
She said the stranglehold that the Democratic and Republican parties have on the process give them the power to ignore pressing issues and bend to the influence of the interest groups.
Though Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama has frequently made reference to making systemic changes in Washington politics, McKinney said that neither major political party can be trusted to do so in the way that she and the Green Party promise.
“I have a track record that people can know about. Me seeking truth, speaking out and having been punished for doing so… The political party that has become my home is one that has always stood for peace, justice and truth,” she said.
McKinney is known for having faced intense backlash from lobbying groups as a result of speaking out in favor of Palestinian rights, while serving as a U.S. congresswoman from Georgia. Finance efforts of pro-Israel lobby groups resulted in her defeat in the 2003 race for her seat, which she had held since 1993. She was elected again in 2005, and defeated a second time in 2007.
She said Monday that politics remain captured by small groups of people who target their finances and manage to exercise extreme influence on policy.
The difficulty navigating the system faced by supporters of Palestine, human rights activists and other progressives will remain, she said, as long as the two major parties remain in complete control.
“If you really want to influence the Democratic and Republican parties,” said Green Party of Michigan Chairperson Fred Vitale, “vote for the green party.”
“That’s how it works.”
McKinney said her campaign hopes to target voters who are disillusioned and unimpressed by what the major candidates have had to say.
She said issues like civil rights infringements, due process violations, police profiling and brutality, human rights at home and abroad and destructive foreign policy have all been ignored in major debates and speeches.
She said people often assume certain things and ascribe attributes to Obama that just aren”t there.
“People give content to that campaign that it doesn’t necessarily have,” she said.
McKinney said she comes across many who are under the impression that Obama is in favor of a single-payer universal health care program. He is not.
“We need to translate political speak into everyday life,” she said. “The country is engaged in blind-faith voting. I’ve been a political observer for all of my adult life. And if it’s not an issue in the campaign, it’s not going to be an issue after the campaign.”
Vitale said that none of the major candidates are really for the withdrawal of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, while the Green Party “has rejected militarism against all of the countries of the region.”
McKinney said that both the Green Party and herself in her previous efforts as a Democrat, have always expressed solidarity with the struggles and concerns of Arab Americans in fighting for civil and human rights, even-handed foreign policy and immigrant rights.
“It’s been repeated over and over again,” McKinney said.
On the issue of undocumented immigration, McKinney took exception to the term “illegal immigrant” and said that U.S. foreign policy itself has often been the root of the problem.
“Policies are immoral. People are not illegal,” she said. “I am always mindful of the ability of certain political interests to demonize the other. We have to look at international economies, labor, diplomacy and military policy, in conjunction with the tremendous urges that people have to leave their country, to escape oppressed conditions created often by the U.S.”
Never one to hold back or be deterred, McKinney remains outspoken about an issue that proved one of the most controversial during her time in Congress: theories that the September 11, 2001 attacks were known about by high-level officials before they occurred.
“There is a tremendous 9-11 truth movement in this country,” she said. “The American people have been lied to. Sen. McCain has said that 9-11 was preventable.”
McKinney, 53, was exposed to the civil rights movement as child in Georgia through her father, Billy McKinney, who was arrested in 1946 after returning from service in World War II and drinking from a water fountain designated for whites. Her father became an activist who took Cynthia along to demonstrations challenging racially discriminatory policies of the Atlanta Police Department, and to other protests across the south.
Billy McKinney became a Georgia State Representative and Cynthia McKinney would follow in his footsteps in 1988, joining the state legislature, and immediately challenging a House rule requiring women to wear dresses by wearing slacks.
McKinney did not know of the rule and was later told of it by reporters.
She said that had she been told at the time by the Speaker that she could not wear pants, which he had done to a congresswoman the previous year prompting her to go home and change, she would have removed her pants right then and there.
McKinney is carrying on her defiant, outspoken role in politics today as a marginal third party candidate determined to help change the system.
She said that support for the Green Party during such an important election is not a waste of votes or resources because the goal is merely to achieve five percent status.
She said that substantial third party votes in the 2000 and 2004 elections were not spoiler votes because “the Democrats allowed the disenfranchisement of the black voters.”
“You don’t capitulate your values before you even vote… We have seen success when people vote their values,” she said. “This is a five percent campaign. Victory is five percent. That’s not a wasted vote.”
For information on McKinney’s campaign or to contribute, visit www.runcynthiarun.org