(IPS) Part 2: McKinney Takes on Two-Party System

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This article was first published by Inter-Press Service at: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=42099

ATLANTA, Apr 23 (IPS) – “Politics in the U.S. is at a crisis level,” Green Party presidential hopeful Cynthia McKinney told IPS during a rare sit-down interview. “Disillusionment, lack of participation, and establishment of false choice — what is one to do? For me, I can’t give up hope. I said yes when the Green Party said ‘okay, now you want to do it?’.”

McKinney served as a Democratic Georgia State legislator from 1988 to 1992, and as a U.S. congressperson from Georgia from 1993 to 2003 and again from 2005 to 2007. Now she is the frontrunner for the U.S. Green Party nomination, although the candidate has yet to be formally decided.

“There are important issues, national in scope, that need to be addressed,” McKinney said. “Unfortunately, they’re not being addressed now. These issues include a livable wage, single payer health care, and of course the wars. And the rollback of our civil liberties and the infrastructure needs of our country.”

Always outspoken, she lost her seat in 2003, after commenting on KPFA radio: “We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on Sep. 11… Those engaged in unusual stock trades immediately before Sep. 11 knew enough to make millions of dollars from United and American airlines, certain insurance and brokerage firms’ stocks. What did the [George W. Bush] administration know, and when did it know it about the events of Sep. 11?”

Corporate media outlets only played the last part of her lengthy quote and called her loony, a nut, and a conspiracy theorist, among other things.

After gaining back her seat in 2005, McKinney was targeted again after another much-publicised incident in 2006 in which she physically protected herself after being assaulted by a Washington, DC police officer who did not recognise her as a Congresswoman when she was entering the Capitol building. Democratic leaders dissociated themselves from McKinney and would not support her after the incident, in which she was never charged despite a full investigation.

Since then, McKinney has remained active in politics at home and abroad, participating in the Hurricane Katrina Tribunal about the effects of the storm that devastated the Gulf Coast states in 2005, and the official neglect that followed in the aftermath.

“That was a particularly moving moment because we had people from all over the world descend on New Orleans to hear from survivors,” McKinney said.

“The situation with Hurricane Katrina is something no one’s talking about. When the Democrats [upon winning back a majority in Congress in 2006] came up with the 100-Hour Agenda, nowhere in that agenda were the Katrina survivors,” she noted.

“Instead of a livable wage, she [Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi] put an increase in the minimum wage. If the minimum wage had kept up with the stratospheric height of CEO remuneration, the minimum wage would be 22 dollars an hour,” McKinney said.

The federal minimum wage is now 5.85 dollars, up in 2007 from 5.15 dollars, which it had been at for the 10 previous years.

“It is not sufficient given the income inequality that exists in our country and the erosion of value of workers’ wages,” McKinney said.

McKinney announced her resignation from the Democratic Party on Mar. 17, 2007, at an anti-war rally in front of the Pentagon.

“As an American of conscience, I hereby declare my independence from every bomb dropped, every threat leveled, every civil liberties rollback, every child killed, every veteran maimed, every man tortured. And I sadly declare my independence from the leaders who let it happen,” McKinney said, according to a video of the event obtained by IPS.

One of the U.S. House votes in 2007 to authorise funding for the U.S. occupation of Iraq passed by only one vote, McKinney said during the interview. “Had I been there, it would have failed,” she noted, seeing as how her Democratic replacement in Congress, Rep. Hank Johnson, voted to continue funding the war.

“The war party, which has two wings, Democratic and Republican… The Democratic wing counted their votes. They got rid of a sure ‘no’ vote and ensured war funding,” McKinney said.

Today, in addition to campaigning for president in more than 20 states, McKinney is completing a PhD in African American Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation topic is on the role of assassination as a political tool of the state.

“I know as a result [of my candidacy] a lot of people are looking. Hopefully, they will give the Green Party a look. In order to have choice, you have to vote that choice. If you haven’t voted in the past, maybe this is the time to vote,” she said.

“We have to pay attention to these issues… because while no one is talking about it in this presidential campaign, the rest of the world is consolidating to oppose greed. You have to look at the power of the vote of people in Latin America, in Haiti, Mexico, Bolivia, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Chile, Argentina, and sometimes Brazil,” McKinney said.

“Through the power of the vote they change their circumstances. If they can do it in Nicaragua, you know we can do it here,” she said.

*This is the second of two articles about the U.S. Green Party and the 2008 elections.

(END/2008)

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

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