Cynthia McKinney's Election Night Remarks August 8, 2006
Incumbent Rep. Cynthia McKinney was defeated in the primary for her house seat representing Georgia's congressional district 4. She has been a consistent opponent of the war in Iraq, and has been targetted by the right as a result. Here are her remarks on election night:
I wanted you to hear this song because it says so much about why 'this' election in Georgia was so important. In the film American Blackout, you saw that I say that my district needs jobs. And so, in partnership with faith-based organizations and labor, I put together a program to train my constituents to acquire the skills for jobs that won't be outsourced overseas, and that pay more than a living wage, with health and retirement benefits. Last month, we took in 500 students. Who at the end of their training will have transportable skills, internationally-recognized certification, and a chance to live the American dream, supporting their families and our community. The news media didn't tell you about that because they wanted you to focus on my hair!
I first got into trouble when I was compelled in 1991, while serving in the Georgia Legislature, to speak against George Herbert Walker Bush's war against Iraq. And during a point of personal privilege, I declared that I could not support *any* of George Bush's reasons for war. My colleagues got up and walked out on me, I was vilified in the press, and compared to Julian Bond, who too had spoken out against an unjust war. Ladies and gentlemen, there comes a time when people of conscience are compelled to dissent.
Bobby Kennedy said, "The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country." We love our country, and that is why we dissent: because we care. We care about the dignity of all the world's people. We care about minimum wage workers; we care about no wage workers, we care about the homeless--too many of whom are veterans; we want a healthy future for all our children; we want our seniors to live in dignity. Our country is too rich to tolerate such poverty in our midst. We have more to give to our people and the world than DynCorp, Halliburton, and the Carlyle Group.
We care about the air and the earth and the water. And so we reject George Bush's science lessons that distort the facts and justify policies that support drilling for oil in Alaska; exacerbate global warming; and allow more human consumption of known toxins and pollutants. We care about the projection of US power around the world. Either we can be a force for good in the world; or we can rely on force and upset the world. Sadly, this Administration has chosen the latter. At a time when this country has failed to train enough certified teachers to educate our children, George Bush is spending billions, nearly one trillion, dollars for war. And in a point of personal privilege right now I echo what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "A time comes when silence is betrayal; we are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, for those it calls 'enemy.'" One year to the day before Dr. King was murdered, he declared that the greatest purveyor of violence in the world was his own country. With Israel's invasion of Lebanon, there might even be a call for more US or UN troops to be stationed in the Middle East, we--here tonight--say to our Commander-in-Chief: "Sir, No Sir." And so, before we engage in yet more war, I declare tonight that we stand with the families of our hurt soldiers and the hundreds of thousands of innocent hurt and dead Iraqis. We stand with the homeless Vietnam and Gulf War veterans. We stand with the Agent Orange victims and the 160,000 sick Gulf War veterans. We stand with the 37,000 green card soldiers, not even citizens, but willing to trade their lives for a chance to live and work in America because our foreign policy has failed to uplift their hopes and aspirations in their own countries.
Dr. King told us that in order to stop the madness we would have to match actions with words. Mario Savio before that told us that we have to put our very bodies against the wheels and the gears and the levers of the machine and we have to say to those who own it, that they must stop it, or we will stop it.
Tonight I am joined by noted men and women activists who have put their bodies against the wheels and the gears and the levers of the machine and they are trying to stop it. They are not tricked by red herrings that the corporate media throw to us. They are focused on our objective to make America a better country. Something is happening around the world: countries with little or nothing are standing up, rising up against the utter and complete domination. Thank goodness for the people in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Venezuela, Malaysia, all standing up and speaking for the weak and the voiceless in their countries. A change is sweeping the world.
And America must not be left out. So my new friends are the mothers who have lost their sons in George Bush's war and we say to them hold fast to your faith--your suffering will not be a stumbling block for us. We will make this stand with you--you are not alone.
Denise Thomas' daughter went to Iraq once and when they tried to send her a second time, Mama got political. She's now the founder of the Georgia Chapter of Military Families Speak Out. First told her story at a prayer vigil organized by Ann Mauney. Prayed at by Reverend Timothy McDonald. Then one mother who wasn't so lucky. She couldn't save her son from the War Machine. The first Georgia soldier to die in Iraq came from the 4th District. Patricia Roberts, Jamal Addison's mother, now politically active and my new friend. Another mother, lost her son, Casey, and decided to take her case directly to President Bush. Cindy Sheehan. There's something special about these women. Their names aren't Deborah, or Esther, or Ruth. But they are women for these times. Women, called to make peaceful revolution.
President Kennedy warned us that "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Electronic voting machines are a threat to our democracy! So let the word go out: we aren't going to tolerate any more stolen elections; we're watching you. And we want our leaders back--or we will become the leaders. And not only do we want our country back, we want our Party back. There *is* a growing force for peace in this country. And the peace movement that we are building is backed by millions of young people. I want to thank the hundreds of people who volunteered in our campaign, especially the young people who were excited about getting involved in something good. Thank you all for a lot of hard work, thank you for the thousands of volunteer hours, thank you for helping to make a stand in Georgia.
I wish the new representative for the 4th Congressional District well. A snake in the bush is easy to fight. But one already in the house becomes a problem!
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