August 14th, 2008 11:59 pm by Kelly Garbato

True, 5% isn’t exactly shooting for the stars, but Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney explains how garnering just five percent of the national vote can help the Green Party “Return power to the people”:

The goal of this effort is to put another seat at the table. Right now public policy is made at a real table. In 1992 when I was running for Congress, the slogan was ‘we want our seat at the table’ because that was the year of the woman. Women all over the country were running for the Congress and we wanted our seat at the table. When I got to Washington, D.C., I saw that there really is a table and that table is inside a room and that room has a door and a window. The window is for the people. They can look in and they can see public policy being made. The door however has a lock on it, and so not everybody can come and go at will. Somebody is already in that room and there are only two entities in that room, Democrats and Republicans. They gave the special interests (groups) a key so that they could come inside that room anytime they wanted. As a result of the special interest (groups) being able to lobby and press their wishes at will, the American people can vote for peace and get war and occupation. […] By receiving five percent of the national vote, the Green Party can pull a seat up at that table of public policymaking. We can put a chair in that room that reflects our values and I can guarantee you that the public policy resulting because we are there will be more reflective of the values of those who actually go to the polls and vote. Five percent.

Of her split with the Democratic Party, McKinney says:

The reason that I am no longer a Democrat is because the leadership of the Democratic Party has pressed the Democratic Party in ways that are not consistent, nor reflective any longer of my values. So for example, the Democratic majority in Congress presented an agenda for its first 100 days. Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita were nowhere on that agenda. They also pressed for the continuation of spending for war and occupation. Peace is my value not complicity in war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of torture and crimes against the peace.

Also one of the values that I think that is important for us to protect is the Bill of Rights. We must be able to live in a society that both claims itself to be a free one, it really ought to be free. The recent demonstration of the Democratic leadership, no longer reflecting the value of protecting human rights at home, is the fact that now, telecommunication companies get retroactive immunity granted to them by the Democratic majority in the Congress to spy illegally on innocent Americans. This is outrageous, aside from the fact that it’s well past time that we stop spending $720,000,000 every day for war; that we ought to have a budget for this country that reflects human needs. That we ought to provide a single payer health care system for people in this country and a livable wage for workers in this country. It is insufficient for the Democratic majority to merely talk about raising the minimum wage. People must go to work now and when they go to work they should not remain beneath the poverty level.

While I don’t have any illusions that McKinney/Clemente will take office in ’09 (just as I didn’t expect Kucinich to sweep the primaries), neither Obama’s seemingly impending victory nor the specter of a McCain presidency can compel me to vote against my fundamental values. A vote for McKinney (and, in the grander scheme of things, the Green Party; grander still, an end to the two-party system) is not a waste of my vote. Quite the contrary – my vote would be truly be wasted if I allowed those who feel that they are entitled to it to take it without actually earning it.

So if you’re a Democrat, a liberal, or a progressive; are less than thrilled with Obama; and/or would like to stick it to the Democratic Party, consider the Green Party. Since the Democratic establishment considers the Green Party candidates “spoilers” – and a vote for a Green the same as a vote for the Republicans – don’t violate your values by casting a vote in favor of McCain. You can have your tree and hug it, too.

Cast a vote against Obama, against McCain, against the Democrats and Republicans, against the two party system, against politics as usual. Vote for McKinney and Clemente. Or, hell, any third party for that matter. But just as you won’t vote for the lesser of two evils (Obama), please don’t vote for the worse of the pair (McCain). Because, really, the Democratic Party isn’t fixin’ to change any time soon. So the question becomes, just how sustainable is this strategy of voting Republican?

Seriously, people, five percent. Surely there are more marginalized voters angry with the Democratic Party (and the “democratic” process) than that?

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