while Tuesday night meant Republican John McCain secured his party's presidential nomination and the two Democrats duked it out for delegates in Ohio and Texas, locally it meant an opportunity for the Green Party of Minnesota to throw its hat into the presidential race.
About 20 people turned out for the party's Minnesota caucus on Tuesday night at Van Cleve Recreation Center. Straw poll results at that caucus show Cynthia McKinney won the contest handily, claiming 13 of 17 voters.
Perennial presidential hopeful Ralph Nader received one vote according to the poll, but he has said he doesn't want the party's nomination.
There will be a party convention June 7 and 8.
At the Green Party's caucus on March 4th, Cynthia McKinney led the state's straw polling with 62% of the votes, with 50 out of 67 senate districts reporting. While the straw poll is non-binding, it is a good indication that Ms. McKinney will likely have a lot of support in the coming June convention, where Minnesota's 12 delegates to the national convention will be chosen.
As a resident of Pennsylvania in the front-loaded primary season I have, and still do have, a lot of time to decide who gets my vote. This is a very special occasion because, as an 18-year-old, this is the first time I can vote. I could not have predicted a few years ago that in the Democratic race there would be a half-black man as the presumptive Democratic nominee. For those who fill in the same ethnicity bubble on the SATs as I do it is an opportunity to elect a president who may change perceptions within our country.
However, as I learned more and more about politics I began to wonder how progressive Barack Obama would be. He has been running on the promise to simultaneously transcend partisanship while also changing America. What is most striking about this rhetoric is its similarities to that of Bill Clinton. . . .
Cynthia McKinney is the first African American female congresswoman elected to Georgia and an ex-Democrat running for the Green Party. As a six-term member of congress she amassed a consistent voting record. She voted against the Iraq War, but more importantly voted against the Gulf War in 1991. It’s not enough to just be against the Iraq War; meaningful change is a candidate against all wars of imperialism. She has also voted against funding the war despite the false assertions by other Democrats that somehow that would translate to troops with no armor or weapons in battle. McKinney introduced articles for impeachment against George Bush and passed legislation preventing the sale of weapons to human rights abusers. Isn’t that change you can believe in?
I don't know how Greens who are long-time supporters of Nader are feeling about this latest development. I would think that some Greens who support McKinney and many of those who were hoping for a contest between Nader and McKinney within the Green Party context are not happy about it. That includes me.
. . .
These difficulties will not be made easier when Nader and McKinney have to also compete against each other for votes and, before that, for state ballot lines.
Nevertheless, it is better that there will be two progressive third party candidacies rather than none at all. They will play an important role in bringing forward the truth about Obama's--or Clinton's -- histories and positions on issues, challenge the Democrats from the left, expose the inconsistencies and downright bad positions. That will make it more difficult for the Democratic nominee to jettison his or her primary-season, more-progressive politics during the general election campaign. And that will help to lay the basis for an "action, not rhetoric" movement from below that will be absolutely essential . . .
Essence.com: Why should people consider taking a harder look at the Green Party?
Cynthia McKinney: As I travel, talking to Americans across the country, I’ve learned that there is life outside of the two-party paradigm. We have a generation of folks who watched in horror as young people protested the Vietnam War outside of the Democratic National Convention and saw how they were subsequently treated. That was a tipping point for a lot of people. Today, some feel that their votes won’t be counted because of election integrity. There are people who want to see an end to the war, and that hasn’t happened, despite the Democratic majority in Congress. So you have all these different people who have reached the same conclusion that the two-party paradigm doesn’t serve their interests anymore. But let’s not withdraw from it; let’s change it.
Essence.com: You’ve been a Democrat all your life. Why switch to Green now?
C.M.: You know, I never really got the chance to know the members of the Green Party across the country before. Now, I’m getting to know the most wonderful, idealistic, patriotic people who have made me feel at home. It’s just wonderful to be with people who have thought through the process and how we can work to make it better.
Essence.com: How many votes do you need to be considered?
C.M.: The Green Party needs 5 percent of the votes in the 2008 election to be institutionalized as a third force in American politics.
Essence.com: Why should we consider voting for you?
C.M.: If people feel deep within their hearts that there is still something structurally wrong with the limited choices we have in our two-party system, then I want people to say let me be a part of the 5 percent that changes the structure of our country. Right now, public policy is made in a room where the door is locked. The people are outside; only two representatives [Democrats and Republicans] are in that room hammering out policy. Somebody gave the corporate lobbyists a key so they can come and go as they please. The Green Party will open the door for people who care about impeachment, the war, civil liberties, and economic justice. We will pull up a chair and be a part of the conversation. You’ll get different results and people won’t feel as if they were marginalized out of the process.
Back when Bill Clinton was president of the United States, a White House intern made a decision of her lifetime. Not Monica Lewinski, but Ingrid Drake, a young, aspiring politician, lost hope in the Democratic Party.
"I was disgusted for them not standing by women and blacks," Drake said. She was an advocate [Editors note: please see correction below indicating that she was an opponent, not an advocate] for Proposition 209, a proposed amendment that would have stopped public institutions from considering race or gender for admission.
Tuesday night, in the auditorium of Locke Hall, Drake recalled her disgust and outrage toward the Democratic Party before listening to presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney.
McKinney, another former Democrat, made the last stop of the night at Howard University on Tuesday to show the documentary "American Blackout" and to raise awareness of the independent party she is now affiliated with, the Green Party.
. . .
Of the Green Party primaries thus far, McKinney is the clear leader, winning in Arkansas, Illinois and Washington, D.C.
Schwartzman, an active Green Party member and Howard professor for more than 30 years, said McKinney's candidacy will bring to light issues such as the tax system, global warming, divestment and the job market.
His support shows through his ballot as he voted for her during the D.C. primary and through his wallet as he donated $1,000 toward her campaign.
Among those making a choice, McKinney drew more than 40 percent of the local Green vote. McKinney is a sometimes fiery candidate known for opposing the Iraq War, . . . Perennial third-party candidate Ralph Nader, who has not officially declared his candidacy this year, followed with 26 percent.
The citywide Green vote was much closer, with Nader at 36 percent and McKinney at 35 percent.
"Former Representative Cynthia McKinney talked about her bid for the Green Party presidential nomination which she announced in December 2007. She focused on racial issues.
"She spoke to students and faculty at the Nyumburu Cultural Center, at the University of Maryland in College Park."
To view this one hour program, with the Q&A which followed her brief remarks, please link to:
Many prominent political activists have gotten behind Barack Obama, arguing that giving "critical support" to Obama is the best way to hold him accountable and push him to the left.
We disagree. The Democratic Party, as history has demonstrated time and again, is the graveyard of all social protest movements. Pointing working people toward the Democratic Party, however "critically," is to foster dangerous illusions in the institutional framework of U.S. imperialism and to mislead folks as to how progressive change can be brought about.
If the Democrats don't self-destruct at their upcoming Denver convention over the issue of "superdelegates" or over seating the Michigan-Florida delegations -- and if Obama is actually the Democratic nominee and is then elected president -- one cannot exclude the possibility that he could be forced to go further than his program or even intentions would suggest in addressing some of the concerns of the American people.
But this pressure won't come from folks caught up in the workings of the Democratic Party. The only possibility of pushing Obama to address some of the people's needs is if -- and ONLY if -- there is an INDEPENDENT movement built to advance consciously the issues that are on the front-burner for the people of this country -- particularly for the Black people and youth, who are Obama's main constituency.