Why I Am Supporting the Candidacy of Cynthia McKinney

A recent think piece in the Washington Post declared that this has been “a transformative year for women in politics.” This pronouncement was based primarily on Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s attempt to brand herself as a feminist who happens to hold opinions contrary to traditional feminist values and important changes like women not having to dress like a man to be taken seriously in politics,

“One option women have today is that they don’t have to dress like a man to make it in politics — although the frenzy about Palin’s $150,000 designer shopping spree shows there are limits to what the public will accept.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) makes no bones about favoring Armani suits and Chanel shoes — and has been criticized for it; Clinton has developed a consistent fashionable look with regular hairstyling and St. John suits. Palin, with her long hair, slim skirts and red high heels, is surely the first national female candidate to be called “hot,” as Alec Baldwin did last weekend on Saturday Night Live.

Missing in action in this look at women and the election is any analysis of how this campaign has been business as usual in terms of women’s concerns being reduced to little more than the abortion issue, a point made oh so clear by John McCain’s air-quoting of women’s health as “an extreme pro-abortion” position.

The Post piece also completely ignored the groundbreaking two woman Green Party ticket of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente. No surprise there because their campaign has been routinely disappeareded not only by mainstream media but as Amee Chew points out, the liberal media have (with few exceptions, notably Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman) also ignored their campaign.

The failure to support and acknowledge McKinney-Clemente is unfortunate for several reasons. First, the two party stranglehold on the American electoral process has become disastrously dysfunctional. It is already clear that many voters will be denied their right to vote because of voter roll purges, long lines and other tactics and that many of our electronic voting machines are not accurately reporting votes, either purposely or accidentally. These are the reasons why the 2000 and 2004 elections were ‘won’ by George Bush, not because of third party candidates such as Ralph Nader as some have charged.

Secondly, in our current system, all but the best funded candidates are almost immediately shut out of the political dialog, thus limiting that dialog to a callously shallow repertoire of non-productive and usually non-realistic talking points and accusations. Third party candidates who offer an alternative vision end up in something of a hamster wheel situation where they are not considered serious candidates because you don’t hear much about them and you don’t hear much about them because the media won’t consider them to be serious candidates.

What the Washington Post has labeled transformative is the accomplishment of women in a patriarchal, deeply misogynistic system. When women like McKinney and Clemente dare to speak the truth on so many issues and to confront that system, there is nothing accidental about the systemic near blackout of coverage of their campaign across the media spectrum.

There are obvious structural changes that need to be made to our electoral process –abolish the Electoral College, a shorter campaign season, mandatory verifiable voting and an end to the two party domination of our elections because only then will we have the benefit of the voices of wise women like Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente who offer a vision of true transformative change not only for women but for everyone. I urge you to take the time to read their platform and listen to their words.*

As Rosa Clemente said in a recent speech, “We are not the alternative; we are the imperative.” And that is why I am supporting the candidacy of Cynthia McKinney and Rosa Clemente.

*As I write this, the McKinney-Clemente website is down and there are unsubstantiated reports that it has been hacked, therefore it is impossible to learn more about their platform at this time, although hopefully that will be rectified soon. Another site does however have many links to her work and of course a websearch will find plenty of material.

Author’s note: I have no doubt that many who read this have their fingers poised above their keyboards ready to ask how dare I risk the chance of a McCain presidency by suggesting a vote for anyone other than Obama. I urge them to read more closely. In point of fact, although I live in a state that is so completely expected to go for McCain that the candidates have barely spent any time here, I will vote for Obama for the simple reason that McKinney is not on the ballot here. However if she were, I would have voted for her. In states where the outcome is less clear, I would probably vote for Obama. But if, like me, you are concerned that the current system is very badly broken, please give serious thought about giving third party candidates the support they need to help reclaim our democracy.

Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in numerous publications in the US and abroad. She also blogs at WIMN Online and writes a monthly column for the Louisville Eccentric Observer. Read other articles by Lucinda, or visit Lucinda's website.

10 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Martha said on October 31st, 2008 at 7:55am #

    No, Lucinda, I don’t ask how dare you. I wish everyone would vote for Nader or Cynthia.
    What I do wonder is why you focus on Palin’s wardrobe? That includes the Alec Baldwin section which is from the Washington Post article and needs to have quotes around it.
    But you picked that quote and trivialized a woman.
    While asking us to respect another one.
    There’s been enough hatred and scorn tossed at women this year without you adding to it.
    Palin’s got a brain. If you find her thoughts frightening, try writing about them and not about her wardrobe.
    I’ve yet to see obsessive pieces here — from men or women — on Barack’s ties, his fondness for tucking his shirt in when playing basketball, you name it.

  2. Max Shields said on October 31st, 2008 at 10:03am #

    Martha, just keep posting.

  3. Danny Ray said on October 31st, 2008 at 10:17am #

    I was trying to think of something to say but martha beat me to it.

  4. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 31st, 2008 at 3:03pm #

    i do not know what is wrong ab. mentioning the fact that palin aqcuired $50K of clothes.
    evaluations of it may be flawed. eg, few women may condemn palin for it. i do.
    but most might envy her and may not think that that’s elitist.thnx

  5. Deadbeat said on October 31st, 2008 at 5:00pm #

    I found the Amee Chew piece a much better article than this one because it drew some distinctions between Nader and McKinney. In the end there is no Nader/McKinney ticket; no united front. Therefore a choice has to be made between the two on election day. That means there needs to be more articles drawing out the DISTINCTION between Nader/Gonzales and McKinney/Clemente.

    Nader has already stated that the Greens are too disorganized.
    I think Rosa Clemente did a great job on Democracy Now presenting distinctions between her ticket and Nader/Gonzalez.

    Unfortunately many writers (including Dr. Petras) still frame Nader and McKinney as though they are running as a sole ticket without any distinctions.

  6. Leah Zanzucchi said on October 31st, 2008 at 8:53pm #

    My first comment is for your author’s note. It sounds like your unable to do a write in, in your state.

    I am also frustrated by the fact that the media only focuses on two parties, the Democrats, and the Republicans. There are six different parties on the ballot where I live as well as a write in option.

  7. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 1st, 2008 at 1:09pm #

    yes, skirts matter. they matter to me because a female may have many “skirts” in her bag. that is what politicos generally do; they skirt nearly all issues. thnx

  8. David Gaines said on November 2nd, 2008 at 4:26am #

    Full disclosure: I am a Green Party activist running a GP Congressional campaign this year, and worked on the 2000 & 2004 Nader campaigns. I voted absentee for McKinney but have also helped out and contributed to the Nader and Brian Moore (Socialist Party) campaigns. I agree with Nader when he says that there is room for several such campaigns in the field this year. Sounds contradictory, and people seem to be puzzled by that statement, but from where I sit it seems to be true.

    My strong impression over the last several months is that the clear distinction between the Nader/Gonzalez campaign and the McKinney/Clemente campaign (besides one campaign having a compelling, well-designed, easy to use website and the other campaign having a complete disaster for a website) is the emphasis on completely different issues. In terms of what the candidates talk about in depth, the two campaigns may as well be campaigning on different planets. Who talks about corporate crime and campaign finance reform, and who talks about post-Katrina New Orleans and the militarization of Africa?

    Also, McKinney’s campaign has significantly more appeal, from what I can see on the ground, to the radical segment of the African-American community. She has been somewhat successful at not only drawing those people into the Green Party, but increasing their numbers among GP candidates. This is a group that, as a whole, has never been attracted to Ralph Nader. I may be alone in thinking this, but I don’t see a whole lot of McKinney votes going to Nader were he not on the ballot in a given state.

    This is a superficial analysis and I agree with the person who said that there should be more discussion of the essential differences between McKinney and Nader instead of lumping them together as twin candidates all the time.

  9. luke weyland said on November 2nd, 2008 at 7:32am #

    Hate to say this… but –
    If you live in swinging states like Missouri, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, etc
    Please vote for the lesser evil
    Please vote for Obama

    McKinney is clearly a superior person to Obama. A President McKinney would get the US military out of the the Middle East on day one.

    But there will be no President McKinney, Nader, Brown or Barr. There will only be a President Obama, or a President McCain – or if old age hits Senator John – a president Palin.

    John McCain bombed the citizens of Hanoi, was set in 1962 to do the same to Cuba. Now he wants to Bomb Bomb Iran. He regards Venezuela as a dictatorship, Saudi Arabia as a democracy – because the latter does as it is told.

    Obama will unfortunately keep US troops in the wars already begun, but even is likely to wind them back. He will use his legal advice and mediation skills to settle other difficult areas. Whereas John McCain would use his killing skills.

    If you live in Elephant states like Texas, Utah, or Alabama, by all means vote with your heart. Similarly if you live in the donkey states of California, Illinois, or New York do likewise. When you vote for your congress men and women do likewise ( if you are able to ) This would tell the Conservatives within the Democrats how you really think.
    However, when it comes to the vote for Presidency, if you live in one of the more marginal ” battleground ” states, for the sake of the country and the planet please vote for Senator Barack Obama!

  10. bozhidar bob balkas said on November 2nd, 2008 at 10:42am #

    luke weyland,
    u’r splitting uncle sam in two. u’r splitting USA in two. yes, obama is different than mccain.
    but the uncle remains the same: expansion by any means whatsoever.
    and atomizing innocent citizens in nagasaki and hiroshima proves it.
    indigenes of the redlands, prove it.
    iraq, afghanistan, palestine, s. and central america, e. europe, prove it.
    all this was done before anybody heard of obama.
    and obama is gonna buck uncle? no, i don’t think so.
    the lesser evil is definitely gonna turn to be greater or much greater evil.
    and not because of obama but because of the funni uncle.
    he loves raping countries and even continents. thnx