Run, Cynthia, Run
Well, should progressives back the candidate who would be the first woman president or the first black president? Being greedy, I am going for both. Yes, former Congresswomen Cynthia McKinney has taken my advice and is seeking a presidential nomination.
I am doing all I can to support her efforts to win the primaries and woo the conference delegates. "Go, Cynthia, go," I told her when we spoke at the Brockwell Green Fair in south London back in September - and now she is going for the big ticket.
I have known a few would-be presidents: my good friend Professor Joel Kovel, a genial ecosocialist went for the Green party nomination against Nader in 2000, which inspired me to go for Green party principal speaker a couple of years later. I must admit, in 2000, I was also tempted by Jello Biafra, the ex-lead singer of punk band The Dead Kennedys (you can see political ambition in the very name), famous for his lyrical tune "Holiday in Cambodia".
Well, I don't agree with Cynthia on everything, but then I don't agree with anybody on everything (other than the Green party manifesto for a sustainable society). Nader might still give it go, but Cynthia could be the first third-party candidate to make a real impact. So I am going to be working hard to promote her, albeit from here in Berkshire, England.
Millions of American voters simply don't vote, especially African-Americans, so a strong African-American politician with name recognition and radical policies could do well. The US system is ridiculously biased against third parties, independents and those who are not billionaires, but Cynthia already has a huge web presence. She is a feisty politician who has been the target of the deep vein of racism that infects US politics; yet, resisting the attacks, she always comes back.
She will be campaigning for withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq, for a proper health care system, for greater social equality and for all the headline environmental policies we need - from real action on climate change, to preserving the US' fast-disappearing wildlife. I like her personally: she doesn't seem like an American politician at all, with a manufactured personality, but more like a human being. And I like what she has to say:
"Americans are gathering the courage to just say no. We are saying no to addictive consumer lifestyles. We are saying no to wars and corporate takeover and the IMF loans that gobble up people and their resources.
"And all over the world, people are saying, if you are committing these acts in my name, then don't. If you are committing these acts - waging war on the innocent, destroying the environment, buying bombs when babies need bottles ... then don't do it for me. Not in my name, not in the name of my child."
Her detractors will argue that she could prevent Democrats from winning - its the old "votes for Nader gave us Bush" argument. However, the Democrats remain, even compared to Bush, a far-from impressive lesser evil. Neither Clinton nor Obama look like ending the war in Iraq, supporting justice for Palestinians or taking radical action to deal with climate change. A strong green challenge could shift the US political system - that decaying plutocracy - in a fresh direction.
So, I am saying, "Go Cynthia, go"; you might just do it.
Dr Derek Wall is the Green Party Principal Speaker. He teaches economics at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His most recent book Babylon and Beyond (Pluto 2005) looks at alternatives to capitalism and corporate globalisation.
© 2008 The Guardian