Politics Mondays: Why They Attack Cynthia McKinney By Richard Searcy
For the answer to the question of why the right-wing pays so much attention to Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, look no further than the recent congressional votes on the Iran Freedom Support Act. Congressman Dennis Kucinich called this bill “a stepping stone to the use of force”(1). It passed in the House 397-21. This bill sounds strikingly similar to the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, and it comes at a time when the Bush Administration is not only considering attacking Iran, but using nuclear weapons to do so. Why would democratic Members of Congress, who complained they were tricked by the Bush Administration into signing the Iraq Resolution of 2002, now sign onto a bill that Bush may use to set the world on fire with a nuclear attack on Iran? Although the bill contains two sentences that state the bill is not an authorization for war, how do they know that Bush won't interpret it differently as he did in 2002 when that bill required him to first get authorization from the UN?
How do the democratic Members of the House, including the “progressive” ones who also voted for it, know Bush won’t have his fingers crossed behind his back when he signs it? How do they know he won’t issue one of his infamous signing statements he thinks allows him to interpret the language of any bill or law anyway he chooses to? According to recent reporting by the Boston Globe (2), Bush has claimed the authority to break more than 750 laws. He is the first president in US history never to veto a bill. After signing a bill, he quietly reinterprets it with a signing statement to fit his agenda and the voices he is hearing in his head. His agenda this time is nuclear war. After the catastrophic results of the Iraq war, how were the democrats tricked into signing this insidious and unconscionable piece of legislation?
The bill calls for "promoting democracy" in Iran. Sound familiar? The problem with that is Iran is already a democracy. Iran was a democracy way back in 1953 when the CIA orchestrated an overthrow of the democratically elected president of Iran. The CIA then installed the Shah of Iran and SAVAK, one of the most brutal secret police forces in human history.
The entire Congressional Black Caucus, whose constituents have been the most opposed to the Iraq war, all voted for it, except, as expected, Cynthia McKinney. Why, “as expected”? It’s because Cynthia McKinney has consistently voted for the interests of her district, her state of Georgia, and the citizens of the United States throughout her political career. She has always exhibited the courage to speak truth to power and be a voice for the powerless. She does not run from tough issues and she will not be forced into any position that endangers America or its people, no matter who is doing the forcing.
This is why she remains a constant target for attack by the right and corporate interests.
This is the very same Cynthia McKinney who had the courage to ask George Bush, “What did the administration know and when did they know it?” about the events of 9/11. She should have copyrighted that question because it has been asked over and over again by many others. We now know that Bush knew much more than he was revealing and McKinney was absolutely on point. She was also one of the very first to speak out against the Iraq war even before Bush invaded. Had the Democratic Party followed her courageous lead, Bush may not have been able to use 9/11 as a backdrop for war. Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller called her a “loony”, and she was defeated in 2002 by a political slight-of-hand called crossover voting. McKinney came back and won her seat again in 2004 with a crushing defeat of five opponents. Today we know the “loony” ones were those who took the Bush Administration at their word, which has led to one of the greatest strategic military blunders in American history. The now known to be needless, fraudulent, and immoral war on Iraq has cost countless lives and more than half a trillion dollars (3) in US taxpayer funds … and counting.
This is the same Cynthia McKinney who fought to force the government to recognize the dangers of Agent Orange to our military veterans, and she won that fight. McKinney fought Bush, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, the Department of Defense, and the powerful Carlyle Group to cancel the controversial and over-blown budget of the Crusader Artillery Program, and she won that fight as well. That fight saved America more than half a billion dollars (3).
This is why they attack Cynthia McKinney.
Amazingly, the attacks have not always come from republicans. After her astounding comeback victory in 2004, she returned to the House only to find that the democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, in an almost unprecedented move, would not return her seniority. McKinney returned to serve her 6th term in the US Congress as a freshman. This was done to keep her off the powerful International Relations Committee and to keep her from being a Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee. She has a record of remarkable work on both committees.
Many who attack her claim that she is unable to “bring home the bacon” to her district. That is an ill-informed statement. In this current term alone she has brought home nearly 15 million dollars for transportation, sidewalks, bike trails, and additional funding for Arabia Mountain Park. She brought back more than 22 million dollars in her previous term. This while being ranked among the most fiscally responsible Members of Congress in the nation (1997) and the most fiscally responsible representative in Georgia (2002) by the non-partisan Concord Coalition, a national citizens fiscal watchdog organization (4).
Besides successfully securing funding for her district, McKinney led the fight to reduce the number of landfills in her district. These landfills emit toxic and nauseous fumes, which adversely impact the health of those who live around them. She enjoys the support and appreciation of many homeowner associations, neighborhood groups, and the faith based community within her district and throughout Georgia. She recently launched the National Youth Apprenticeship Program from her district office, which she sponsored and helped to create.
In a democracy, nothing could be more important than the right to vote with confidence and integrity. McKinney led the fight for voting integrity in Georgia, and was the first politician here to take a stand against Diebold and paperless voting, and once again she has been proven correct. Even Georgia’s Secretary of State, Cathy Cox, now admits that a voter verified paper audit trail is needed in all elections, which is exactly the position that McKinney fought for.
No matter what the issue, if the lives and well being of ordinary people are at stake, we know where Cynthia McKinney stands. She stands with the citizens of the 4th district and the American people.
This is why we should support, appreciate, and continually elect Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.
1. Dennis Kucinich floor speech in opposition
2. Boston Globe: Bush Challenges Hundreds of Laws 4/30/06
3. Rep. McKinney: DOD To Cancel Controversial Crusader Program
4. Concord Coalition: Deficit Reduction Honor Rolls
Richard Searcy is a former Press Secretary for US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-GA). He may be reached at email@example.com.
Monday, May 15, 2006