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The Black Commentator - May Day, Cynthia McKinney, and the Rejection of Systemic Collaboration - Keeping it Real

A proven and steadfast law of physics is that two things cannot exist in the same place at the same time. So it is that real change is quite incompatible with the Democratic and Republican Parties [i.e. the Republicrats], which are in fact the twin bulwarks of this empire’s systemic terror against the poor and disenfranchised in the United States and around the world.

Politically conscious Black, Brown, Red, Yellow, and White peoples know that there can be no compromise with, or so-called critical support of, the Democratic and Republican Parties, which Malcolm X clearly, correctly and succinctly described as being “foxes and wolves.” To accept the assertion that one can critically support any candidate from the Democratic or Republican Parties is akin to asserting that one can critically support the Manifest Destiny, fascism, apartheid, or Zionism - which is the zenith of absurdity and hypocrisy. Yet, there are those who would have us believe that the systemic Republicrat serpents can somehow be made to be something other than act as the poisonous snakes that they have repeatedly demonstrated they are. These Democratic and Republican Parties are frankly, the guardians of this empires’ system of terror at home and abroad; gate keepers of the empire. The reality is that one cannot be in support of real, systemic change while simultaneously supporting the very guardians who prop up the empire’s system of terror, cynicism, and hypocrisy. In this instance, one cannot proverbially have ones’ cake and eat it too. If we truly desire real social, economic, and political [i.e. systemic] change, then we must make the real and conscious choice to stop supporting the gate keepers of this empire’s system, and actively build third parties outside of the stifling, smothering, and controlling box of the Democratic and Republican Parties’ machinery.

Political campaigns of candidates from the Democratic and Republican Parties are not, and must not be confused with being, peoples’ movements. They are not. Rather, they are fundamentally, highly and cynically manipulated marketing tools, which utilize various segments of the ‘American’ people as their target populations. To reiterate: They are not people’s movements. Real peoples’ movements do not come into being through osmosis or corporate campaign media advertisements. To the contrary, real peoples’ movements are organized and built over time by the people ourselves, from the bottom up, and are not beholden to Wall Street, or the corporate / military / prison apparatus. A real peoples’ movement recognizes that the Democratic and Republican Parties and their concomitant corporate / military / prison apparatus, is incompatible with a movement’s effectiveness and ultimately its very existence.

It is in this vein that May Day, 2008, is upon us. In his excellent piece titled, May Day - The Real Labor Day, written some years ago, Luther Gaylord states the following in relevant part: “May 1st, International Workers’ Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world…the holiday began in the 1880s in the United States, with the fight for an eight hour work day…”

It is imperative that critically thinking people, particularly in the United States, understand the enormous significance and legacy of May Day. Historically, people of color joined with White workers / laborers to organize for better working conditions and a shorter work day. The importance of this cannot be over-emphasized especially today in the 21st Century when so much of the leadership of labor unions has sold out its White, Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow rank-and-file members to the avaricious Democratic and Republican parties [i.e. the Republicrats]. Furthermore, it is important to keep in mind that the call for reparations to Black American descendants of slaves is legitimate and is also essentially an uncompensated, unrecognized, and unresolved labor issue. Plantation slavery (in all of its insidious forms) in the United States, was not limited to the many brutal and often unspeakable degradations against the human spirit, but is steeped in the undeniable matter of compensation for the collective forced labor that continues to this very day to be glossed over or outright ignored by educational and governmental institutions of this nation.

Moreover, similar to their Black counterparts, Red, Brown, and Yellow peoples in this nation have been, and continue to be, massively and disproportionately economically exploited - all in the name of blood sucking corporate profit. Also, though not collectively enslaved based upon color as a people in the U.S., the economic exploitation of many White workers too, was and continues to be, utterly unacceptable. Indeed, May Day is of enormous importance to all the peoples of the United States and the world who long for real change.

In the above mentioned piece by Luther Gaylord, he appropriately quotes the “IWW song writer Joe Hill’s” lyrics in relevant part:

“Workers of the world, awaken!
Rise in all your splendid might
Take the wealth that you are making,
It belongs to you by right...” 

It is an important part of our ongoing task to politically educate one another and to ultimately, and once and for all, put an end to the amoral, vampire-like activities of the corporate / military / prison apparatus that sucks the economic, social, and political life blood of and from the vast majority of ‘Americans’ and of humankind. The Democratic and Republican Parties are the lynch pins of the U.S. Empire’s ongoing, systemic terrorism. While limousine (so-called) Leftists and neo Liberals offer their support, critically or otherwise, to the Democratic and Republican Parties; we must unflinchingly resolve to the build a new and just world outside of, and away from, the repugnant stench, deceit, and hypocrisy of the Democratic and Republican parties. We must resolve to build a just and fairer society and world. We must demonstrate the courage to cut the umbilical cord from the empire’s rotting Democratic and Republican Parties.

One such person who has demonstrated, and is continuing to demonstrate such courage is former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who left the Democratic Party. The courage and integrity of Cynthia McKinney does not stop at her having left the Democratic party; she has moved forward and is prominently engaged in helping to lay an invaluable foundation, outside the Democratic and Republican Parties (Republicrats), by running as a third party candidate for President of the United States. In doing so, she is helping to educate and really empower people as to what we can and should be doing to throw off the despicable yoke of the Democratic and Republican Parties. These actions of Cynthia McKinney, were and are, irrefutable acts of courage, integrity, and demonstrate love for the people - all the people.

What is Cynthia McKinney’s message and how is she fundamentally and systemically different from the candidates of the Democratic and Republican Parties? This interview in its entirety, of Cynthia, on April 7, 2008, speaks for itself:

Cynthia McKinney Interview with the ILC International Newsletter

[Note: The following interview was conducted by Michaël Mana in Mexico City on April 7, at the time of the Second Continental Conference Against NAFTA and Privatizations.]

ILC International Newsletter: You are running for president at a time when record numbers of voters in the United States have gone to the polls in the primary elections to register their deep aspiration for change. Please tell us about your campaign and how you have addressed this call for change that is emanating mainly from Barack Obama.

Cynthia McKinney: I first must note that I'm not yet the nominee of the Green Party or of any other party. The Green Party will have its delegates convention in July, and at that point the party will name its nominee. The Peace and Freedom Party convention in California is in August.

I am presently touring the United States to get out the political message of our "Power to the People" presidential campaign. Our ultimate objective is [to] be on the November ballot in 27 states across the country.

Yes, the number of people who are registering to vote and getting active in the political system is impressive. I don't think anyone could have foreseen the amount of actual participation in the process that we have seen to date, with the renewed interest of people who basically have been left out or left behind in the process. We're seeing this because people have heard the word "change." There is a real expectation, a real desire, for change.

But the change that people want so deeply will not be delivered by either of the two main political parties - the Democrats or the Republicans. On the big questions of the day, both parties are in fundamental agreement.

They are in agreement that impeachment is not an option, that the high crimes committed by the Bush administration are not to be punished. They agree that nothing can be done about putting an end to the war funding. A large majority in the Democratic Party-controlled Congress continue to vote the funds for the war. This goes against the whole idea of change.

There is more: The violation of the U.S. Constitution, with the spying on the American people, was confirmed by the votes of the Democratic Party members of Congress. The Democratic majority in Congress has failed to respect labor in terms of instituting a living wage. They have failed to repeal the tax cuts for the wealthy, or to address the situation with the national debt. The United States, according to our former comptroller, is US$53 trillion in debt, which is a debt that the U.S. government cannot pay. None of the front-runners in this presidential is talking about this serious situation.

So we have a lot of things that are not even being discussed by the major party candidates. But someone has to discuss them. They're unpleasant, they're inconvenient - but in order to move our country forward and to be truthful to the people, they are issues that have to be tackled.

We would be shirking our responsibilities as a voice for real change if we did not put certain facts on the table. One fact that is never talked about, and that has not yet been talked about in the presidential campaign, is the increasing racial disparities that exist in our country.

There are many indices that racial disparities are worse today than at the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There are countless authoritative reports - from United for a Fair Economy, the National Urban League, Loyola University, and more - that paint a very bleak picture of conditions that Black people in United States continue to endure.

The Democratic Party relies on the Black vote; nine out of every 10 Black votes go the Democratic Party. But the Democrats aren't even taking about these growing racial

disparities. This is the biggest contradiction of all: People are going to the polls to express their hope for change, but living and working conditions for a majority of Americans will not improve if a Democratic Party president is elected.

Why? 1,664 years is how long it will take to close the home-ownership gap between Blacks and whites, according to United for a Fair Economy. Black people cannot expect to go to work every day and come back to a home that is theirs. 581 years is how long it will take, with no public policy intervention, to close the family-income gap. And we are not even talking here about the disproportionate statistics concerning imprisonment, social injustice, and poverty. None of the major party candidates is talking about this.

In 2003, The New York Times did an investigation, and they found that nearly one half of all the Black men in New York City were unemployed between the ages of 16 and 64. You obviously can't keep a family together if one half of the leadership of that family is unemployed, with no public policy intervention.

Politics is about public policy, and that's what we are trying to get across to people. We are saying that when you go to the polls and cast your vote, that vote should be translated into an agenda for change for the community. But that's what's being lost in the United States right now; the media and politicians don't promote a public debate about policy, so people are left to choose their candidate on the basis of how they look or the way they speak.

Loyola University issued a report titled "Minding the Gap" in which they found that it would take 200 years for the quality of life of Black residents in Chicago to catch up with white residents. There should have been a public policy initiative to address this gap. The Democratic mayor Chicago should have said, "200 years of racial disparity is intolerable; I've been elected with a large number of Black votes, I'm going to put forward an initiative to change this!" But this didn't happen.

In 2005, Dr. David Satcher did a study where he found that 83,000 Black people died for no other reason than the color of their skin, than they were Black. Mind you, this didn't have anything to do with access to healthcare, or health insurance, because they all had insurance. What happened is that once the Black patient entered the white medical system, with a white doctor, the Black patient didn't get the same level of care. And so hence 83,000 Black people died because they didn't get the same level of care, for no other reason than they were Black. Nobody talks about that.

These are things that are easily changeable - but both Democrats and Republicans keep telling us that we need to continue spending $720 million every day for the war. It is sinful to spend $720 million a day for war when we have such racial disparities in our country. People are registering to vote and going to the polls in greater numbers - but their hopes and desire for change are being betrayed.

ILC International Newsletter: On March 28-30, you participated in a meeting of the National Organizing Committee for a Reconstruction Party in Philadelphia. Can you tell us about this meeting and what was decided?

Cynthia McKinney: I'm not the spokesperson for the organizing campaign for the Reconstruction Party, so I can only give you my personal account.

The Philadelphia meeting was important. It reaffirmed our support for the call to build a Reconstruction Party in the United States, and we took some important organizational steps forward by establishing a functioning National Organizing Committee for a Reconstruction Party. We also created working committees to improve our Draft Platform, establish Draft Bylaws, and organize our fundraising. We also called for building Local Organizing Committees duly chartered by our provisional leadership.

It was also a moving meeting. I learned that there were Black people - in fact, some of the best and brightest minds in the Black community - who had long ago given up on the two-party system. They understood a while back, as I only am just now learning, that the differences between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are superficial at best, and that all the conditions described in study after study on the state of Black America would not be resolved by the Democratic Party. They had learned that faith in the Democratic Party as a means of alleviating Black pain and suffering was misplaced.

So I learned that there is an entire community out there of people who gave up a long time ago and decided to do other things. Voting was not one of the things that they were going to do, because they understood that the Democratic Party was not going to solve the basic racial contradictions that exist in United States.

I called my campaign the "Power to the People" campaign because basically I looked at what was happening down here in Latin America. And what the people of Latin America have done with the their votes is so powerful. It reaffirmed what the Black Panthers in United States had said two generations ago: "All power to the people!"

Based on that background, and on the facts of what's happening on the ground in Latin America today and the important successes that are being won by ballot power, I launched the "Power to the People" campaign. What I didn't know at the time, well there's a lot of things I didn't know at the time, was the extent to which the "Power to the People" campaign would actually come up against Š the people who gave up a long time ago.

Our campaign must give them a voice. Through my participation in the Reconstruction Party movement, I'm getting to know a whole group of people who didn't really know me personally. Now they're beginning to have far more confidence in me and what I stand for. We want to bring them back into the political process, to run for office and become office-holders as independent Reconstruction Party activists. They have a track record. They have proven that they won't sell out the community once they get elected; they've already rejected the lures of the Democratic Party.

But our "Power to the People" campaign also has to address and win over people who still support the Democratic Party because for many Black people in United States their relationship with the Democratic Party is an emotional, almost familial kind of tie. However, they also understand the limits of the Democratic Party even as they try to apply pressure from within the Party.

Our insistence on bringing facts and real issues into the discourse gives these people something to talk about and fight for, other than the politics of popularity and superficiality. We are focusing on the issues and explaining that people need to organize themselves independently to secure their rights. We're asking the American people to think critically, analyze the situation, and vote independently.

The voters are the people whose expressions form the content in a Republic. Well, that's the way it's supposed to be anyway. To the extent that voters get more options, we can encourage participation even among those who have rejected the two-party paradigm, as I have now rejected the two-party paradigm.

ILC International Newsletter: You took part in the Second Continental Conference this past week-end. What did you think about this conference?

Cynthia McKinney: The continental conference was convened for the purpose of protecting the human rights of the peoples of the Americas. We talked about labor rights, workers' rights, the environment, national patrimony, self-determination but at the end of the day it was really about human rights.

As a citizen of the United States, I can say that it isn't pleasant to see that my government - through both the main political parties - is responsible for the violations of basic human rights of the people throughout the hemisphere. During my years in Congress, that is something I tried to address.

For example, I opposed giving funds for the Plan Colombia because the U.S. military has been inflicting pain on the people of Colombia, dispossessing in particular the Afro-Colombian community of all their lands and their rights. This plan also provided a launching point for U.S. interference in the internal affairs of other countries of the region.

This was most evident in recent weeks with the murders perpetrated by the Colombian military with the support of the U.S. military during the illegal incursion by Colombia into Ecuador. I am glad that the government of Ecuador stood up and said that it would not tolerate incursions into its country.

It is clear from U.S. government papers that have been released that there has been collusion on the part of U.S. corporations and paramilitary forces in Colombia. That collusion has resulted in the denial of human rights to the people of Colombia and the deaths of all-too-many trade unionists, especially among workers in the Coca Cola bottling plants.

I want the Mexican people to own their own resources. I want the Colombian people to own their own resources. The American people, the American voters, could change that - as it's our government policies that are behind the violations of sovereignty and human rights across the continent. But the issue of U.S. conduct internationally, again, is not part of the official discourse during this election - which is why our "Power to the People" campaign is so important. Only through critical analysis and independent organizing and voting will we be able to change the interventionist policies of our government.

Take the Calderón government in Mexico. It's a government imposed by the United States against the majority will of the Mexican people with the purpose of implementing the dictates of NAFTA and the multinational corporations, to privatize Pemex. This is unacceptable. The Mexican people are mobilizing to stop the privatization offensive. We in the United States need to support them by joining with them in the fight to turn back and repeal NAFTA.

This has to begin with our trade union movement. It is shameful that our unions should be spending $50 million or more to elect Democrats, who turn around and vote to support NAFTA and all other "free trade" agreements.

I also was very pleased that at the conclusion of the Conference, we were able to march to the Monument to the Revolution in downtown Mexico City, where Sister Claudia Sheinbaum and Brother Andrés Manuel López Obrador - both leaders of the National Democratic Convention and the struggle to defend Mexico's oil from the predatory U.S. oil corporations - were addressing 10,000 women "Brigadistas."

It was a very moving event to see these women deputized to carry forth with the Peaceful Civil Resistance plan - a mobilization plan that will not stop until the privatization law is dropped by Calderón.

What impressed me especially about the speech by López Obrador was his call to break with the undemocratic political institutions in Mexico and build a New Republic, premised on the defense of the nation's patrimony; equality of rights for all; and full economic, social and political justice.

What immediately came to mind was that López Obrador's call also applies to the United States. We need a new Republic, with new institutions to put an end to the massive and continuous election fraud, to ensure self-determination for all oppressed peoples, beginning with Black people, to take back our country from the greedy corporations that have enshrined a corrupt, two-party system that monopolizes all political power, preventing a true, representative democracy to get a foothold in the country. We in the United States also need a new Republic to ensure equal rights and social justice for all.

ILC International Newsletter: You signed the Appeal issued at this conference to convene a World Conference to defend the sovereignty of nations, to defend peace and democracy, and to defend labor rights, human rights, and the independent organizations of the workers and peoples. Why was this important for you?

Cynthia McKinney: The ability of the corporate media to black out information, to hide the truth, and to lie to the people has been very well documented. One study found that the corporate media repeated the lies of four administration representatives 9,035 times. Those four people of the public administration lied to the public, and the corporate media repeated the lies without any questions.

We know that, I know that, because of the way Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was treated. There was a government program called the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) that specifically used the corporate media to disseminate outright lies about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the movement he was trying to launch. They did it then. That was in the 1960s. They're even more sophisticated today. It has never stopped.

On March 13, we participated in the antiwar rally that was held in Los Angeles. We marched to the CNN building and held a big rally. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was broadcast on CNN about our rally.

So, yes, we need a World Conference to bring forth all the truth about the destructive policies implemented by the U.S. government around the globe. And if such a conference could be held in the United States that would be even better. We know that the corporate media in United States will try to black out all the discussions. But every time they commit an act against their own journalistic ethics, they stand exposed.

It would be important to have this World Conference inside the United States where so many contradictions exist. For example we have labor unions that support the two-party paradigm instead of supporting the public policies and initiative that are truly in the interests of working people in the United States.

Then there is the travesty that is taking place in New Orleans right now, with respect to even the ability to apply national U.S. laws to what's happening in New Orleans - because an exemption from environmental laws and labor laws has been granted because of Hurricane Katrina. Yet there's no effort to bring the people back, and the few who are able to return are often returning to areas that are still toxic. Nobody is talking about that. This needs to be exposed far and wide.

So despite the much greater turnout in the primaries by voters who are hoping for change, we have seen no discussions of New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina survivors, and no discussion of U.S. militarism being extended throughout Africa under the new "Africa Command." There has been no discussion about what we are going to do about Medicare or Social Security. The United States is in danger of being swallowed by its own version of runaway corporate greed. And it is in the process of engulfing the entire world into this vortex. All this needs to be brought to the fore by a World Conference.

[End of interview]


As a result of greed and deceit our planet is facing climate change, food shortages, and the ongoing pillage of our mother earth. We cannot and must not allow this to continue. At stake is everything.

There is nothing short of systemic change brought about by we the people that will make a serious and real difference in and for the peoples of this nation and world. Want real change? Build third parties-- not beholden to the Republicrats. Whether you become a part of the Reconstruction, Peace and Freedom, Greens, or some other political party working for social, economic, political justice and systemic change; it is clear that the Democrats and Republicans [i.e. the Republicrats] represent death by suffocation or death by strangulation--but certain death for sure.

We must remember that we the people are not helpless. People around the nation and the world have been and are in the process of leaving the Republicrats and creatively seeking the ways and means to bring about real systemic change and different political parties. An example of this is the upcoming Building A New World conference to be held in Radford, Virginia, on May 22 – 25, 2008. People have had enough of this insanity and are continuing to do something about it.

This is what struggle and systemic change are all about: Taking control of our own destinies. Liberals and would-be Leftists need to come clean and be for real, but of course if they actually did that, they would no longer be “Liberals” and/or “would-be Leftists” would they?

Recently I sat listening, as part of an audience to a live presentation by Amy Goodman, of the Democracy Now show. In her concluding comments she said to the gathered crowd, with presumptive and primary reference to the U.S. Presidential candidates of the so-called major political parties, that the “candidates” are “malleable” and that “they [these candidates] will respond” presumably to the expressed desires / demands of the people.

She is absolutely wrong. Without systemic change the candidate/s, including of the Democratic Party are “malleable” not to the people, but to their corporate / military / prison apparatus masters. For these are the real puppet masters. Good wishes and inspiring stories won’t change this reality; only hard work and consistent political organizing and third party building “outside” of, and apart from, the Democratic and Republican Parties will.

The wanton police murder of Sean Bell in New York City, and countless other despicable and reprehensible acts, are made possible and sustained by the very system that the Republicrats would have us support. We must stop being dupes and start taking control of our own social, economic, and political destinies.

Collaborating with the Democratic or Republican Parties is just that: collaboration. It is tantamount to leaving the door of the chicken coop open and expecting the wolf not to eat your chickens; and then being surprised upon finding only feathers and a bloated wolf when you return to collect your chickens’ laid eggs. It’s time to get real. We must reject collaboration with the Democratic and Republican Parties, which sustains this empires’ systemic terror against us and the world.

If it’s real change you / we want, then its time to start being seriously revolutionary, understanding that the only real change is radical [i.e. root] change - nothing else is real.

Time to get busy… Editorial Board member, Larry Pinkney, is a veteran of the Black Panther Party, the former Minister of Interior of the Republic of New Africa, a former political prisoner and the only American to have successfully self-authored his civil/political rights case to the United Nations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. In connection with his political organizing activities in opposition to voter suppression, etc., Pinkney was interviewed in 1988 on the nationally televised PBS NewsHour, formerly known as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. For more about Larry Pinkney see the book, Saying No to Power: Autobiography of a 20th Century Activist and Thinker , by William Mandel [Introduction by Howard Zinn]. (Click here to read excerpts from the book) Click here to contact Mr. Pinkney.

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May 1, 2008
Issue 275

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