Know Your Choices

There’s so many events going on this week that picking some and discarding the rest will be necessary. I wanted to look into some of the non-corporate events that encourage us to exercise our participation in government.

To that end I attended one where Cynthia McKinney, Green Party Presidential candidate spoke. Her Vice Presidential candidate Rosa Clemente spoke as well as Colorado Green Party members. Independent Speaker of the House candidate Cindy Sheehan spoke as well.

Whatever issues others may have with these candidates I heard heartfelt thoughts on how vital each and every one of us is to real change in government and ending suffering for people in this country and around the world. Two vital talking points emerged: one is the lack of engagement equal representation by non-whites in ALL the political parties and two is what I refer to as the people behind the curtain: the amount of money invested in the two major political parties by corporations.

I was watching a Democracy Now! segment from this morning featuring former Senator Jean Carnahan and her daughter, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan where the reporter brought that up. Millions of dollars have been poured into this convention by corporations and they’ve been allowed to do so because of loopholes. There are events closed to the media by these corporations such as AT&T that lobbyists attend. Pepsi paid $68 million to get their name on the building where the convention is being held. Both Carnahans concurred but said Obama’s candidacy is changing that. They also encouraged women specifically to be more active in the political process and run for office.

Back to last night’s event here’s a quick recap. I do know it was being recorded and I believe it will be posted online. I highly encourage watching it in its entirety.

Cynthia McKinney:

She takes Black and Brown people unity very seriously. As well as Asian and Indigenous. She discussed how the corporate press disseminates lies and our government will disrupt the lives of people to subvert progress they try to make. She specifically mentioned Bobby Kennedy, Harry Belafonte and Serena Seabring. Senator Frank Church (1924-1984) is one of her heros. She discussed why she’s running for President and how federal election matching funds are within reach. There are 8 states in play that people can support. She wants to reduce the influence of corporations on our political process and wants to build the Green Party – obviously.

Rosa Clemente:

The actions of COINTELPRO are still occurring under a different name but the agenda is still the same. The government is specifically targeting young people. Hip-Hop is immediately blamed for a lot of ills in this society and it’s a fallacy. She stressed the importance of the youth vote and the need to believe in this country. The modern equivalent of disenfranchised people (before 2000) in this country are the Puerto Ricans. They can’t vote in the Presidential election, but have to pay taxes and were the first to die in the wars this country fights. She discussed how the art of war is practiced and perfected here by the police on its citizens of color. Although she supports the troops and getting them out of Iraq, moving away from the militarism mindset is even more important. She got into a very intense example of where our traditions come from and how family influences us by comparing Tupac being the result of Assata Shakur and how she thinks the government was involved in his murder. She said a real movement encompasses everyone from Harvard to Harlem to the food stamp office.

Cindy Sheehan spoke as well. She shares many of the same policy platforms with the Greens. She discussed how she supports the Nader/Gonzalez ticket but had to endorse the McKinney/Clemente ticket. She talked about why she wants to work with people whose backgrounds are different from her own. We have to accept people where they are.

All three women share a desire to turn the country ‘right side up again’.

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I can’t help but think of Shirley Chisholm and the road she paved for women in this country. How other women had the opportunity to support her candidacy but couldn’t see past the color of he skin or said they wanted to focus on a candidate who could “win”. I think about Dolores Huerta’s founding of the United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez. Women of color who have paved the way. Women who have been dismissed or marginalized or worse – forgotten, but who’s contributions led entire movements that changed the course of this country.