Green party presidential candidate discusses U.S.’ social, political problems

Jessica Hager

As Democrats and Republicans duke it out for America’s vote, the other parties are vying for attention.

Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney came to CSUN on April 15 to speak about how her party is different. The environmental, social and political problems facing the country were her main concerns when she spoke to students about the party.

“When policies change and no longer represent the values of a society, having another option could provide a better outcome,” said McKinney. “The Green Party can give people the confidence to know that their values will be upheld.”

McKinney, a former congresswoman from Georgia, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1992 as the first African-American woman to represent the state. She served for 10 years.

McKinney began her political career as a Democrat, but switched to the Green Party in 2007 because she said she felt the Democratic Party was not living up to the ideals that she believed. Those ideals include environmental activism, social justice causes and democratic decision-making.

“One of the reasons I support the Green Party is the hope that people will begin the hard work to bring democracy to the United States,” said Dr. Michael Powelson, a history department lecturer. “Unfortunately we don’t have a democratic political system here.”

McKinney and Powelson spoke to students as part of a CSUN Greens event held in the Northridge Center at the University Student Union. Some of the other issues discussed were voter fraud, how to end corporate influence in the government and defending civil, minority and environmental rights. The main focus, however, was the U.S. political system.

“The vast majority of people in this country support a national healthcare program, are against the war in Iraq and believe in real environmental reforms,” he said. “But we have a gridlock because of the Electoral College system, which controls the White House and dominates how we get our politicians elected.”

McKinney herself has struggled with the voting system first hand while in Congress. In 2002 she went to court to protest her defeat in the Democratic primary after thousands of Republicans used “crossover” votes to ensure she lost that election. McKinney claimed that statements she had made about voter fraud in the 2000 Florida elections and her questioning of George W. Bush’s handling of the Sept. 11 attacks caused a backlash against her among Republicans.

In 2004 McKinney ran for Congress again and won. Since then McKinney has proposed bills that include testing for harmful environmental contaminants, providing debt relief to African-American farmers who have suffered discrimination and requiring nationals of the U.S. who employ people from a foreign country to provide full disclosure of their operations.

“We’ve got a lot of cleaning up to do in the whole process…We don’t have to suffer under an illegitimate regime when all we have to do as Americans is stand up (for ourselves),” she said.

McKinney said she would put in place programs to deal with the economic crisis facing the country, including one that will deal with the predatory lending practices that banks engaged in.

McKinney went on to say that as problems escalate within the United States, politicians do nothing to make a difference in the welfare of the country.

“I have visited campuses where graduating seniors are $100,000 in debt…Your elected representative probably votes every year for the defense budget to keep things as they are, fails to support a single-payer healthcare system in this country and yet we spend more than anybody else on the planet,” she said.