Cynthia McKinney is a former Georgia House of Representatives member. She served six terms as a Democrat, including powerful assignments on the Armed Services and International Relations committees. In 2008, she left the Democratic Party to run for president as the Green Party candidate.
You were originally a Democratic member of the House, but switched party affiliation to the Green Party. What motivated this shift?
The Democratic Party left me by refusing to address rampant voter disenfranchisement in 2000 and 2004 and refusing to stand up to an administration that was lying to the public, which resulted in trillion-dollar deficit for the people and loss of lives in Iraq. I found a home where my values were reflected back to me, with the Green Party.
What changes would a McKinney administration bring?
First, we would stop the wars. Then, we would start to undo the mess Wall Street has made with the connivance of the two parties by bringing the four pillars of the Green Party (ecological wisdom, social justice, grassroots democracy and nonviolence) into the policymaking of this country. We would see an end to institutional policies of discrimination and class division, which would strengthen our communities to be sustainable, healthy, and livable.
Why should voters support your campaign?
I have worked to bring integrity to our purported democracy by addressing the inequities of the voting process in order to ensure that everyone has the right to vote. I am committed to bringing our troops home from Iraq. Our administration would decrease defense spending and use those dollars for human services, such as education and universal single-payer health care, and improving our planet through programs that will support a healthier environment and provide a new manufacturing base of jobs in the renewable energy sector.
What is the hardest part about running a third-party ticket?
The corporate-controlled media says this is a two-party country, despite the fact that the constitution never mentions political parties. Thus I am routinely ignored (thankfully not by your paper) and, though Americans may share my values, they have to spend time searching for information that I exist and am a viable candidate for president. In addition, ballot-access laws vary wildly from state to state, making it extremely prohibitive for parties to run qualified candidates and give voters more choice. Utah is considered one of the ìreddestî states in the nation, thus making it seem like there is no choice. It is difficult to persuade citizens to consider voting for Green Party candidates and values when they think their vote doesnít matter.
Would opening the debates create a flood of candidates filing for the presidency?
It might, but considering the quality of what the two biggest parties offer, wouldnít that be preferable? Opening the debates would certainly make a situation where more diverse people would file and it would make them more representative of the population and constituency.
What would ending NAFTA and other trade agreements do for the average person?
For many people it would mean they would have jobs again, jobs producing products our communities need. It would restore environmental and worker protections as well as incentives for local manufacturing and production. This would benefit all of us with higher paying, more stable, and more meaningful employment opportunities. The products produced would not have to be recalled because they contain elements known to be toxic.
Ending economic disparities is a proposal. What programs would bring an end to disparities?
Thatís like asking for a laundry list! First, letís stop the golden parachutes for CEOs who canít run a business, and that means electing people who arenít beholden to corporations. An end to ridiculous ìfree tradeî agreements. Real support for public education, including helping everyone who wants to go to college. When our urban schools fail, partly because of lead paint in the homes and poor diets, a major lead-removal program and urban gardens may be the things that make the biggest difference. Major tax reforms that donít punish people for not being wealthy. Making sure every American has a home, a home that uses no fossil fuels and has no toxins in its construction, and a major investment in clean, renewable-energy systems and mass transit that works.
You propose reparations for blacks. Would this lift the economic disparity? Where would the funds come for this program?
The fortunes in this country were originally based on ownership of land or on the slave trade, and that original deficit in the owning of land created an economic hole that African-Americans have never been able to climb out of. A lack of democracy has perpetuated that system, in which African-Americans own less, and are subjected to the most financial irregularities that Wall Street perpetuates. There are many things to do to end the disparities in our communities: remove lead paint, improve the diet of all children, improve schools in low-income neighborhoods instead of giving them fewer resources; the list goes on for quite awhile.† Reparations is one of the things that completes the picture. If we stop funding wars and bailouts, we could do amazing things in this country.
How does the McKinney campaign differ from Obama and McCain?
My campaign is not lead by corporate lobbyists and spin-doctors. It is based on real people with real solutions for the violence, injustice and ecological collapse we see around us. Since we take no corporate contributions, we do not work for Wall Streetówe work only for you!
Some of the policy differences are:
Do you believe you will win?
What is your definition of “win?” If the Green Party gets 5 percent of the vote, we will qualify for millions of dollars in public funding. This will enable us to promote policies that the other parties arenít even mentioning, such as single-payer, universal health care. If you want public policy that that reflects your values, then your vote for the Green Party will be a step toward that goal.