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HISTORY MADE TODAY IN CHICAGO
By Bruce Gagnon
The Greens chose Cynthia McKinney on the first ballot today in Chicago to be the party presidential nominee. Cynthia then nominated Rosa Clemente to be her running mate who was quickly approved by near unanimous acclaim.
Born and raised in the South Bronx she is a graduate of the University of Albany and Cornell University. Clemente is a highly regarded commentator, political activist, community organizer, Hip-Hop activist, and independent reporter.
Chuck D of Public Enemy says that Clemente "is one of this generations' most important political voices and community organizers."
In her acceptance speech McKinney defined winning as setting a goal to garner 5% of the national vote which would give the Green Party major party status on the national level. McKinney made it clear that her run for president is all about building an alternative to the two war parties. The corporate parties have to flip-flop on the issues she said "because they have to appear" to agree with our progressive values while they then do the bidding of the corporations who pay their freight.
Maine delegates gave McKinney the 5th most votes of any state during the first round of balloting. Only New York, Illinois, California, and Wisconsin gave her more presidential delegate votes.
Ralph Nader came in a distant second in the presidential balloting which indicated that while people still respect him, his day of gaining the ballot lines via the Green Party across the nation are over. At this point McKinney will be on the ballot in at least 25 states across the nation next November . Greens in other states are still attempting to cross the enormously difficult ballot status barriers that keep the Republicans and Democrats from being challenged.
Just after the nomination process concluded 2004 Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb made a rousing introduction speech of McKinney. It was Cobb, and the Green Party, that challenged the well-documented vote fraud in Ohio in 2004 that put Bush in the White House again. While John Kerry, and the Democratic Party, violated their promise to "fight for every vote" it fell to the Greens to file the legal challenge to protect disenfranchised voters in Ohio.
Before McKinney's acceptance speech, a video was played on the huge screen above the stage in the Chicago Symphony Center with John Lennon singing his song "Power to the People." McKinney has adopted that slogan as her campaign theme and it brought tears to me eyes to see her dancing on the stage during the Lennon song.
I felt that it was a moment of liberation for McKinney and the Green Party. McKinney was free of the restraints that come from being a "good" Democratic Party elected official where you are expected to toe the party line and not challenge the party orthodoxy. Now McKinney is free to be herself - to speak truth to power as she so effectively does. In fact on the podium, as McKinney spoke, was a sign that read TRUTH.
With the nomination of McKinney and Clemente the Green Party is now free to become the real radical alternative party that it should be - radical in the sense of "getting to the roots" of the issues at hand and building the political base to make the needed changes. The Green Party took a huge step today in the creation of a multi-ethnic party with leadership from black and Latino communities. This is a must as we look at the coming demographic changes in America. There will be no progressive movement in America without active leadership from people of color working alongside of progressive white activists.
To say the least it was refreshing.
I've been a McKinney watcher for years as she was one of the key voices in the Congress who time and again spoke on behalf of "the people". McKinney has been run out of office twice by the power structure and vilified by the corporate media for having the audacity to speak against war and corporate domination. I am sure her nomination will be greeted with scorn by the corporate masters.
For me today was a revolutionary moment. Since working on the Jesse Jackson presidential campaign in 1984, and seeing the hope of a "Rainbow coalition" whither away, I've thirsted for the coming together of the movements. Today's event clearly indicated the enormous possibilities that exist for revolutionary peace, social justice, and ecological organizing in the U.S. if people are willing to step into this historic moment.
The change we all long for will not come from the Democratic Party. A new positive and earth shaking train has just left the station. The question remains will people who see themselves as progressive have the wisdom to get on-board and not be left behind sorting through the crumbs left behind by the corporate parties.