Cynthia McKinney is a unique presence in the Congressional
Black Caucus: a genuine “movement” activist. For that reason, she
is hated and feared by white racists, for whom she is the epitome
of the uppity Black; by corporate America and its vicious media,
whose power she does not respect; by Democratic House leadership,
which abhors activist Black lawmakers more than it does Republicans;
and by cowardly African Americans who feel threatened by her example
of principled speech and action for social justice and world peace.
That’s why it is imperative that all people of good will assist
McKinney in keeping her seat from Georgia’s 4th district,
just outside Atlanta.
The racists and cowards smell blood. McKinney was forced
into a runoff election, set for August 8, after failing to win a
clear majority in this month’s Democratic primary. Turnout was abysmal
– only 60,000 voters showed up, versus 95,000 in 2004 when she took
back her seat after a two year absence.
McKinney garnered 47 percent of the vote in a three-way
race, only 1,500 votes ahead of second place Hank Johnson, a compliant
Black Dekalb County commissioner who brags that
he is a “pothole” politician who will not stir up controversy. A
white businessman got more than eight percent of the vote. His share
will undoubtedly wind up in Hank(erchief head) Johnson’s column,
on August 8. Clearly, McKinney must bring out her troops – which
takes money. Her opponent’s surprise showing has invigorated
those who backed Denise Majette with tons of cash to oust McKinney
in 2002, and now see another chance to rid themselves of their nemesis.
McKinney, who unfailingly acts in solidarity with progressives,
cannot expect to be treated in kind by many of her Black Democratic
colleagues. According to The
Hill, the Washington newspaper that covers Capitol Hill issues:
[Black] Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) predicted that most of
her congressional colleagues would not rally to her aid.
“Some will, but a great majority will distance themselves.
It’s called ‘avoidingitis,’” he said. “We avoid her. Cynthia won’t
approach people beyond her real friends.”
On Capitol Hill, including within the Congressional
Black Caucus, bucking the leadership is anathema – a kind of capital
crime. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi appears to despise McKinney,
who defied her order that Democrats boycott a committee investigating
disaster, and ignored Pelosi’s demand that all Democrats vote
“no” on a November,
2005 bill to immediately withdraw
from Iraq. Only Florida’s Robert Wexler and New York’s Jose
Serrano joined McKinney in resisting Pelosi’s edict.
Pelosi had her revenge. When McKinney got into a physical
altercation with a white Capitol Hill cop, this spring, Pelosi ordered
her poodle, Black Caucus chairman Mel Watt (NC) to humiliate and
isolate the congresswoman. Watt dutifully complied, first demanding
that McKinney apologize on the House floor, then attempting to prevent
Caucus members from standing with her in solidarity. (See “The McKinney
Affair: Rampaging Racism, Cowardly Caucus,” BC
April 13, 2006.)
Pelosi’s hateful obsession with McKinney
is longstanding. The San Francisco lawmaker, once co-chair of the
Progressive Congressional Caucus, denied McKinney restoration of
her seniority when she returned to the House in 2005. After six
terms in the House, McKinney is considered a freshman. Such is the
penalty for a Black woman who bucks the leadership.
Vote Flipping and Other Tricks
The integrity of the Georgia voting process is deeply
in doubt. In an election day interview with Atlanta
Progressive News, McKinney campaigner Karen
“You’ve got electronic voting machines. Many people called in and shared
their concern. They pushed the button for Cynthia McKinney and Hank
Johnson came up. It wasn’t one time, it wasn’t two times, it was
many, many times.
“It started early this morning. There were well over 25 to 30 calls that
came in [to the campaign office]. Many of them went to the poll
manager [after this happened]. In some cases, the poll managers
said there’s nothing we can do. In some cases the voter left frustrated
as if their vote had been compromised, as if it had been stolen.”
More of the same can be expected in the August 8 runoff.
In addition, McKinney’s opponents have launched a campaign of disinformation
to further dampen turnout – a result that can only help Hank Johnson.
In a letter to her supporters, McKinney said:
“You won't believe what they're
doing now! Incredibly, the local news media are confusing
the people by telling them that if they did not vote in the July
18th Primary, they cannot vote in the August 8th Runoff election.
This is devious and patently untrue. We've launched our Refuse2Lose
hotline at 404-419-6239 and today's message tells the truth to our
voters about this calculated deception. In addition, the Republicans
are filling my opponent's coffers with cash. The last thing
we need in Washington is a ‘Republicrat.’ My opponent promises
to go to Washington and say nothing. You know I'm committed
to stand up and speak out. Help me now so I can continue to
be your voice in Washington, DC.”
Corporate Media Crimes
McKinney faces a solid wall of corporate media hostility,
most notably from the daily newspaper monopoly Atlanta Journal-Constitution
(AJC). In 2002, the AJC was an extension of Denise Majette’s successful
campaign against McKinney. The paper claimed Majette was building
a “biracial coalition” of voters
who were tired of “civil rights-type” politics; that Black middle
class voters would flock to Majette’s banner in disgust at McKinney’s
activism. It didn’t happen that way. Instead, Majette won with massive
white support, including loads of cross-over Republican voters.
Nevertheless, the newspaper claimed to have done a post-election
study that showed strong Black support for Majette. Black Commentator
exposed that lie, in a November, 2002 investigative
article by editor Bruce Dixon.
“Rather than being elected by a ‘biracial coalition of voters,’ Denise
Majette was the beneficiary of an abnormally large white turnout,
which she carried at a rate of 90% or better. This ‘biracial coalition,’
hailed in the Washington Post, the Journal-Constitution and elsewhere,
is revealed on close inspection to be less like a patchwork quilt
and more like a big white sheet.”
The “white sheet” is now draped over Hank Johnson’s
campaign. He is counting on another low Black turnout for the August
8 runoff, a massive infusion of hate-McKinney money, vote-flipping
by Diebold machines, and rabid anti-McKinney corporate media.
Just as the powers-that-be consider this contest to
have national implications, so should progressives. In the last
two years, the deterioration of the Congressional Black Caucus has
been painfully manifest. This year, two-thirds
of Black congresspersons voted for the giant telecom corporations’
bill to strip localities of influence over cable television operations,
and to make the Internet a toll road. Last year, 37 percent of the
Black Caucus backed Republican
bills of one kind or another.
Cynthia McKinney does not stand alone as a consistent
progressive among Black Caucus members – seven other members have
perfect voting records, according to the Congressional Black Caucus
Card, and eight more members rate Honor Society status. But
McKinney is, indeed, different. She sees no distinction between
her legislative and activist work – both are extensions of her total
commitment to social change. She needs money. Go to her web site,
and give her some: cynthiaforcongress.com.