Reconstruction Renaissance: An Interview with Cynthia McKinney

Dandelion Salad

All Things Cynthia McKinney
Tues. 01/08/2008

Note: The following interview with former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is reprinted from issue No. 268 of the ILC International Newsletter (Jan. 8, 2008), published weekly in multiple languages in Paris. The interview was conducted for the ILC International Newsletter by Alan Benjamin on Jan. 5. To contact the ILC, the Reconstruction Party Organizing Committee, and the Cynthia McKinney for President campaign, see the “Afterword” at end of the interview.]

Question: Sister McKinney, as someone who is running for president of the United States on behalf of the Power to the People electoral coalition, how do you view the recent Iowa caucus?

Cynthia McKinney: I just received a three-page letter from a woman in Tennessee — a veteran who did three tours of duty in Vietnam. She wrote to say how dissatisfied she is with the level of political discourse in our presidential election, with none of the Democratic or Republican candidates addressing the real issues that she and her family are facing in terms of health care, job offshoring, declining public education, stagnation of wages, and more.

She is looking for real answers and is not getting any from politicians and a media more interested in hype and hot-button issues (such as the “war on terror” or the “war on drugs”) than in promoting any serious discussion of policy, much less offering any serious political alternatives.

Angela Davis made an interesting comment on the current presidential campaign. She said all the candidates are talking about “differences” that will not make a difference and “changes” that will not bring about any change. How true.

Take Obama and foreign policy: Independent journalist Allan Nairn spoke to Amy Goodman on her January 3 Democracy Now program about Obama’s top policy advisers. I will quote from the transcription of this program, appropriately titled, “Vote for Change? Atrocity-Linked U.S. Officials Advising Democratic, GOP Presidential Frontrunners.”

Question: You recently issued a statement announcing that as a presidential candidate you would use your campaign to promote the building of a Reconstruction Party in the United States. You are now serving on the newly formed National Organizing Committee for a Reconstruction Party. Why is this important to you?

McKinney: More than two years ago, the world got to see what many of us live on a daily basis in this country. They saw the Black community in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast decimated by government neglect. They saw a community targeted by ethnic-cleansing. Throughout this country there are still communities that are desperate because of generations of poverty and neglect.

The world now knows this terrible situation exists in the very heart of a country that is touted as the most “prosperous” and “democratic” in the world.

This situation has gone on way too long. The mainstream politicians want it simply to go away. They want to erase the color line. But while they and their media change the subject — preferring to give us every detail about what Brittany Spears wore when she was arrested, for example — and while no one deals seriously with growing poverty and racism in this country, things only get worse.

It was only after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that some folks in the Gulf Coast realized there is a desperate need to build a Reconstruction Movement because all the palliatives offered by the politicians haven’t worked and because there are pockets of neglect all over the country — not just in the Gulf states.

The Reconstruction Movement was born in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, but the conditions of poverty, racism, and neglect have existed since America’s first Reconstruction Period after the Civil War.

A 2003 Harvard University study found that Black infant and maternal mortality rates are 2 and 3.5 times higher than for whites. Dr. David Satcher found in 2005 that 83,750 Black people died from premature deaths for no other reason than that they were Black.

The New York Times wrote that by 2003 nearly one half of all Black men between the ages of 16 and 64, living in New York City, were unemployed.

And in its 2005 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that it would take 1,664 years to close the home-ownership gap and that on some indices the racial disparities are worse now than at the time of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In their 2006 report, United for a Fair Economy told us that Blacks and Latinos lost ground, and that in order to close the racial wealth divide in our country, it would take the equivalent of a “G.I. Bill for Everyone” that would include comprehensive federal investment in low-income families and communities, with an emphasis on people of color.

The Reconstruction Movement is needed to bring attention to the state of Black America today. But once people acknowledge this deplorable situation, an agenda and strategy for real change are needed to address the problem. That hasn’t come from either major political party. Therefore, redress requires something else: a political party with reversal of these statistics as its primary mission. The Reconstruction Party is therefore the political expression of this Reconstruction Movement.

Question: What are some of the other questions that need to be tackled?

McKinney: There is, of course the question of this “war without end.” We need the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and from the rest of the Middle East. This includes all military advisers. It also includes closing all military bases in the region.

We must reject this “war on terror,” which is only aimed at promoting a failed foreign policy. It’s past time to repeal the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, and the Military Tribunals Act.

But this is not all. We need to bring all of our troops home from Europe, Asia and Africa. We don’t need our young women and men in harm’s way. We need a Department of Peace instead of a Department of State. This Department would put forward projects for peace all over the world. In the meantime, the Pentagon must oversee the withdrawal of U.S. troops from about 100 countries around the world. Our presence in those countries, through our foreign and military policies, only stokes wars and conflicts.

We must pay very close attention now to Pakistan. I recently issued a statement saying, No U.S. Troops in Pakistan!

continued…

To learn more about Cynthia McKinney’s record, visit www.allthingscynthiamckinney.com. To make a donation to her campaign fund, visit www.runcynthiarun.org. You can also send a check or money order to Power to the People Committee, P.O. Box 311759, Atlanta, GA 31153.

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