Wikinews interviews U.S. Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney

Friday, March 7, 2008

McKinney before speaking at the Green Party Presidential Debate in 2008.

Wikinews held an exclusive interview with Cynthia McKinney, one of the candidates for the Green Party nomination for the 2008 U.S. presidential election.

McKinney is a former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 and held her seat for ten years until being defeated by Denise Majette in 2002. She was the first ever African American woman from her state to be elected to Congress.

We asked her why she made the recent switch to the Green Party. She replied, "Due to the importance of environmental issues, Green issues are the issues of today. The Ten Key Values of the Green Party stress us getting along with each other in harmony with the planet that gives us life."

When asked about how she would handle Iraq she replied, "I would instruct the Joint Chiefs to draw up a plan for the orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country. I would dismantle our military bases in the area, and I would also demand that U.S. and other international corporations relinquish any claims to Iraqi oil or other resources and withdraw as well."

McKinney is running for president because, basically, she thinks that "it's time that the people win".


 ((Wikinews )) Why are you running for president?

Congresswoman McKinney: It is clear that the country needs an additional political party that is not beholden to special interests or corporate lobbyists. Just 5% of the electorate, voting for a third party candidate gets the nation just that. Therefore, for those who are tired of the ability of special interests and corporate interests to subvert the will of the people, their values, or change their policy makers,winning the 5% is the best way to infuse structural change into our political system.

A victory for the Green Party in this election is possible and necessary. The alternative we present will appeal to the large numbers of disfranchised voters who do not see the major party candidates addressing their issues. In order for a democratic government to work in the public interest, it has to be both transparent and accountable. If 5% vote Green, it will put a third chair at the table of American politics, and it will open the door to the people to see what is going on inside the two-party system that has become controlled by corporations and the expanding power of a military, industrial, and intelligence complex that President Eisenhower warned of in 1960. The Green Party will represent the voices of the majority of diverse and disfranchized voters and citizens and will directly and effectively address their issues.

I spent my birthday last year protesting in front of the Pentagon. At that rally, I stated that upon winning a majority of the seats in the Congress, the Democratic representatives should have repealed the Bush tax cuts, repealed the Patriot Act, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Tribunals Act. And that the majority in Congress should have voted a livable wage for America's workers. And that someone should be trying to locate the $2.3 trillion lost by the Pentagon to pay instead for jobs, health care, and education. I was saddened by the Democratic majority's failure to stop funding the war, and declared my own independence from a national leadership that gave us war crimes, torture, and crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, there is not a major party candidate in the race that has not voted to fund this war. And that vote to fund what is clearly an immoral and illegal war is a vote of complicity in the torture and war crimes that are being committed as part of this war.

The deep economic morass which is facing our country today is not being adequately addressed. We are witnessing, through the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the greatest wealth transfer in our history from Black and Latino households. Yet, while they are being asked to tighten their belts, the CEOs of the banks that caused this crisis are reaping maximum pay. Even the solutions proposed by the major candidates focus on using taxpayers' funds to reimburse the banks instead of funding alternative refinancing in the poorest communities. It is clear that in this scenario, the banks always win.

Well, I think it's time that the people win. Our children shouldn't have to graduate from college one hundred thousand dollars in debt. That is a policy choice made by public policy makers. We don't have to have 48 million Americans without access to health insurance, and even more who are under-insured. Our Congress doesn't have to authorize an increase in national borrowing to nearly $10 trillion shrouded in secrecy. This country should not have racial disparity gaps wider now than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But these are the facts about conditions that Americans are forced to live through every day. Sadly, our policy makers would rather have our country spend $720 million a day on war. Just imagine what that amount could buy in a single payer health care system, education subsidies from Head Start to university, or green technology home conversions and sustainable, safe and non-polluting energy sources.

Politics can change things. I have seen that in my lifetime. But we must have policy makers committed to the kind of public policy that reflects our values and those policy makers must be more than marionettes whose strings are pulled by forces not seen or understood by the voters. Those are some of the compelling reasons why I chose to leave the Democratic Party after many years and to run for President on the Green Party ticket.

 ((WN )) You were a Democrat until not too long ago. Why the switch to the Green Party?

Congresswoman McKinney: The Green Party is an international party that makes policy in other countries in the world. Due to the importance of environmental issues, Green issues are the issues of today. The Ten Key Values of the Green Party stress us getting along with each other in harmony with the planet that gives us life. We need to get along with each other, and we need to respect our environment.

The Green Party also is not constrained in its policy positions by considerations of large corporate donors because the Green Party is supported by individuals who share its values, not large donors intent on gaining concessions at the expense of the people and the U.S. national interest.

 ((WN )) If elected, how would you handle Iraq?

Congresswoman McKinney: I would instruct the Joint Chiefs to draw up a plan for the orderly withdrawal of all U.S. troops from the country. I would dismantle our military bases in the area, and I would also demand that U.S. and other international corporations relinquish any claims to Iraqi oil or other resources and withdraw as well. I would encourage the Iraqi people to select their own leaders through the ballot box with assistance from the best minds in the universities region and in the world, in very much the same way that the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa was written. I would support the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to inaugurate a just peace and I would deploy a Peace Corps to the country that would work in concert with the reconstruction needs of the Iraqi people and their leadership.

I would go further than Iraq. I would deconstruct AFRICOM, the new continent-wide U.S. military command set up in Africa, to show the world that the United States has more to share with it than its military might, destabilizing covert operations, nukes, bombs, and missiles. I would work with the Congress to make sure that the face of U.S. engagement with the world is not a military one.

 ((WN )) How would you handle abortion?

Congresswoman McKinney: I would not change Roe v. Wade, I would protect and expand women's reproductive rights, and I would work with Congress to bolster family planning and protection against sexually transmitted diseases here and abroad. I would also support better sex education in our schools and community centers, as well as making safe and healthy preventive measures available through heath care providers and community programs to reduce unwanted pregnancies and the spread of HIV/AIDS. Many factors come into any woman's decision to get pregnant or have an abortion. We are still missing effective policies to insure safe, affordable and effective birth control for both genders, programs that support education and employment for single parents, courts that insure child support payments, and available health care through pregnancy and childbirth, and for children.

 ((WN )) There are thousands reading this right now. What could you say to convince them to give you their vote?

Congresswoman McKinney: People in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Haiti, India, Italy, Nicaragua, and Spain decided that even during their deepest national tragedies, they would vote their values, their dreams, and their aspirations. The governments that resulted were not just face-changes, but were governments reflective of the people's deep longing for real change. As a result, policies are being offered and implemented that reflect the truest values of the people--they want to enjoy peace and the right of self-determnination.

I believe in the good that our government can do to respect civil liberties, the dignity of work, restorative justice (not just incarceration for profit), and peace. I believe that whoever wins the general election right now, Barak Obama [sic], Hillary Clinton or John McCain, the people will still need a third party with standing to keep them accountable. But to achieve these goals, 5% of us are going to have to do something we've never done before in order to have something we've never had before. I am taking a stand for justice and for peace. I hope others willing to step outside of the two-party paradigm will join me in an effort to make the structural change in the political system that our country so urgently needs.

This exclusive interview features first-hand journalism by a Wikinews reporter. See the collaboration page for more details.