By all accounts, this year is considered historic in terms of the presidential election. It has so far not only been a long campaign from start to its almost finish, but many firsts have been accomplished. Most of all, the spirit of competitiveness in the primary season has demonstrated something that goes beyond the actions, ideology, or policy of the Democratic or Republican party. The everyday voter wants something different, for things as they are have become nothing but a defacement of what we have idealized in our hearts of what this country could and should be. The big question is whether the troubles we have stem specifically from the Bush administration, or rather that those currently in power are an embodiment of a larger problem that strikes at the core of peace, ecology, justice, and democracy in our time. Those outside of the two-party system can illuminate this conundrum by showing that there are alternatives in this election to the status quo.
This is what we know:
We are in the midst of a war that never had to happen. This conflict, that has been obscured by debates about how to win in the best possible way, is a microcosm of the inherent insanity of war throughout history. The real discussion is not how to win with honor at this moment but how to make the entire concept of war extinct, especially for future generations. Illustrating the needlessness of this war demonstrates that real victory is the preservation of human life rather than the maintaining of political or military hegemony. Therefore, any policy that does not call for the immediate bringing home of the troops is unthinkable. We must develop new ways for countries to relate to each other that leave behind the historical phenomenon of war that are also alternatives to violence in general. Humans function and endure by a rejection of violence as a solution to individual and collective disputes. We must also understand that the preparation for war, including militarism at home and abroad, is the first step to declaring war. Conflict resolution in a forum of equality and cooperation is the only viable way to push back the tide of the rule of force. It also requires a demilitarization and elimination of weapons of mass destruction by all nations of the earth. Protecting human rights, preserving a democratic process, and saving lives in times of crisis must be divorced from a military approach. The use of nonviolent methods to oppose practices and policies of oppression and violence understands that the use of force, regardless of the intentions or the situation, forecloses against the future of a real and lasting peace.
We are at the cusp of dramatic climate change coupled with an emerging energy crisis. If actions and decisions are not taken now, then we will see oil run completely out, species become completely extinct, and a great rise in the world’s oceans that will devastate coastlines in most of our lifetimes. As long as the power and influence of the current dominant economic model continues, there can not be a real and substantial environmental movement. At a certain point global capitalism expressed through corporations will stifle any needed change that escapes the dead ends of current policy. We as human individuals and collectives must understand that we are fully integrated into nature, to the degree that we must keep the balance between what we use and how we give back to nature. This need for balance must be passed on to the next generation, leaving behind the old model of exploitation, pollution, and short-sightedness.
The lack of justice, whether in democracies or dictatorships, illustrates how justice is the actual harmony between freedom and equality. These two elements depend on each other to such a degree that without justice individuals and collectives become isolated from each other and fail to express the best of humanity. In order for justice to be protected, as the wellspring of the best of the human condition, all persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the inventions and resources afforded by society and the environment. There must be an avoiding of these elements used instead as the instruments of oppression, so justice requires that they must be distributed fairly to all persons to insure equal opportunity. We must be aware of various hierarchies and demands of ideology posing as absolute truth that would deny justice for the sake of order, obedience, or necessity and that would emphasize either freedom or equality at the expense of either equality or freedom. In other words, there must be a real relationship with the other that confronts racism, class oppression, sexism, and homophobia not for the sole sake of the other but for all humans.
At every turn, empowerment is denied to the people of this nation. In the current rhetoric of limited government and cutting taxes, there is a confusion between bureaucracy and democracy. Government can be a mode of each, and those who advocate for pulling back government involvement in a society present the problem in the image of reducing bureaucracy which the majority of citizens support. But those in power actually mean pulling back the democratic process, reversing decades of a tradition of citizen action to allow the United States to at least try to live up to its dreams. As bureaucracy can be an instrument of oppression, the democratic process can be an instrument of liberation. But in this year we find that underneath the rhetoric, democracy in practice is curtailed while the bureaucratic arm of government power expands in order to regulate and modulate human existence. At the same time, the government believes it can impose an abstract and ethereal form of democracy and freedom on other countries that can only be used as long as it does not interfere with American hegemony.
It begins today:
Cynthia McKinney is running for president as a Green Party candidate in a campaign that brings together the 10 Key Values of the Greens with a woman that can personify them with a background as a political iconoclast. Rather than wait for the two-party system to actually do something different from the status quo that only serves the mechanism of power, we can start right now to build the new world in the shell of the old world by voting for Cynthia McKinney. Her reputation speaks volumes of her ability, in concert with the progressive long-term efforts of the Green Party, to be a true possibility for change in a campaign that needs to be based on the real issues especially when the Democratic and Republican parties purposely exclude alternatives from debates and the national public discussion.
The 10 Key Values of environmentalism, nonviolence, grassroots democracy, social and economic justice, community economics, decentralization, respect for diversity, feminism, local and global responsibility, and future focus is in synchronicity with the McKinney platform. This campaign, in ways that neither Barack Obama or John McCain will even begin to discuss, advocates an end to the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, a single-payer universal health care system outside of the control of the health insurance industry, and a national living wage as a minimum wage based on the cost of living. Cynthia McKinney will fight for a sustainable energy and transportation infrastructure, the right of return for Hurricane Katrina and Rita survivors, as well as debt relief for workers, students, and homeowners.
Cynthia McKinney is a former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia who has always stood up against the status quo. She served in the 11th Congressional District from 1992 to 1996, and when the 11th District was changed to the 4th Congressional District she easily won reelection. Before that she was a member of the Georgia state legislature from 1988 to 1992. She has opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, recognized the destruction of the Constitution and Bill Of Rights under the Patriot Act, and understood the overwhelming negative influence of corporations on American lives and the environment. She has fought for these issues in Congress as the first black Congressperson from Georgia and has pushed for impeachment of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. Because of what she believed in, her own party sought to remove her from office through primary challenges twice. In 2002 she was defeated in the primary, was reelected in 2004, and defeated in the 2006 primary. Now, she is a member of the Green Party and running in the presidential election. Her campaign is running in order to offer voters a real choice outside of the homogeneous two-party system. When the Democratic Party seeks to marginalize and silence their own members who are completely distinct from the Republican Party, then there is no real policy difference between the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates. For a democracy to really work, there must be real alternatives to business as usual. A vote for Cynthia McKinney in November can make sure that happens not only on the national level but on the local level.
Cynthia McKinney has also chosen Rosa Clemente as her vice-presidential running mate, making history by forming the first all-woman of color ticket in the United States. Even though voters will be primarily choosing the presidential candidate in November, it is vital that you know more about this extraordinary person who is working with Cynthia McKinney. Rosa Clemente is a community organizer, journalist, and hip-hop activist. She was born and raised in the South Bronx and is a graduate of the University of Albany and Cornell University. A much sought after commentator, political activist, community organizer, and independent reporter, Rosa Clemente spent her academic work dedicated to researching national liberation struggles inside the United States with a specific focus on the Young Lords Party and the Black Liberation Army. While a student at SUNY Albany, she was President of the Albany State University Black Alliance (ASUBA) and Director of Multicultural Affairs for the Student Association. At Cornell she was a founding member of La Voz Boriken, which is a social and political organization dedicated to supporting Puerto Rican political prisoners and the independence of Puerto Rico. She has written for Clamor Magazine, The Ave. Magazine, The Black World Today, The Final Call, and numerous websites. In 2001, she was a youth representative at the United Nations World Conference Against Xenophobia, Racism, And Related Intolerance in South Africa and in 2002 was named by Red Eye Magazine as one of the top 50 Hip-Hop Activists To Look Out For. In 2003, Rosa Clemente helped form and coordinate the first ever National Hip-Hop Political Convention that drew over 3,000 activists who came together to create and implement a national political agenda for the hip-hop generation. She has always seen a need for young people of color to be heard and taken seriously in the larger social, political, and economic discussion. That is why she has diligently presented workshops and lectures at conferences, colleges, universities, high schools, and prisons for the past ten years. She has spoken truth to power, and demonstrated a real commitment to freedom and democracy that surpasses many professional politicians.
Green Parties first formed in the 1970’s in New Zealand and Switzerland. Soon other Green Parties formed in Europe and began to win elections. The German Greens were the first to win seats in a national parliament in the early 1980’s and formed part of the coalition government in the 1990’s. United States Greens first met in 1984 in St. Paul, Minnesota and adopted the 10 Key Values that all Greens in the United States now use. These Greens are unique because they now engage in both activism and electoral politics, unlike the two-party system. There were hundreds of Green chapters in existence by the late 1980’s. We live in a time when corporations set our government’s agenda. Pollution and global warming damage the environment and our quality of life. Our civil and legal rights as workers and consumers are disregarded. Year after year, we see inaction on the part of the two-party system so that on major policies they are essentially two sides of the same coin in direct collaboration. Isn’t it time to vote for candidates who will fight for what you believe in?
In order to be really authentic about making history and enacting change, voters must choose alternatives outside of the two-party system. Voting is more than a regular ceremony that will perpetuate passivity among citizens, and a vote for Cynthia McKinney will be the first step in a movement that will continue beyond election day. This real change requires a transformation of the world that neither Democrats or Republicans can supply. Either they are trapped in a process that makes them more similar over time, that they can not control, or they are intentionally in collusion in order to maintain their hold on public power. What can be ascertained is that voting for them will not accomplish what voters hope for this year. The war will not end, we will still have problems with fuel and climate, the Patriot Act will make a mockery of the Bill Of Rights, and the power of the people will be reduced to an illusion under the discipline of global capitalism. If we want something new, then we must vote for something new. And regardless of whether Cynthia McKinney is or is not a sure winner in November, each vote and each protest and each autonomous local act contributes to what we want in the future that we can not get from the old order no matter how it presents itself.