“Go away then, darn you!”
Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney invoked some slightly sanitized lyrics to the James Taylor hit, “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” to illustrate what she called the “dysfunctional, one-sided relationship” that African Americans have with the Democratic Party. The former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia made the observation on Friday evening at the West Side studios of Manhattan Media Network, where she appeared to announce her effort to get on the New York ballot.
“Now just imagine the relationship of the African-American community with the Democratic party and this song,” McKinney said after reciting three stanzas of Taylor’s lyrics in response to a question about what her candidacy means for the Black movement.
“We have a community that is engaged in a relationship where they know,” McKinney continued, in a reply that veered from the specific question. “They know, but they don’t want to be lonely. They don’t want to be left out on a limb all by themselves. And so, it’s easier to find comfort in something that even abuses you, than to step out on your own and bear the consequences of being alone.”
McKinney, 53, declared her independence from the Democrats in 2007 after six terms in Congress marked by maverick stances that often put her at odds with the party leadership. She secured the Green Party nomination for president on July 12, with a platform fashioned in response to the perceived failings of Democrats and Republicans on matters like the war in Iraq, executive branch violations of the U.S. Constitution and domestic poverty.
“So what I have done is, I’ve said, ‘No longer I am going to be involved in a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship,’ ” McKinney told the audience of approximately 60 supporters during her speech and question and answer session that lasted around 20 minutes.
The comments, made just six weeks after Senator Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination for president and became the first African American to head a major party ticket, stirred no apparent opposition from the audience.
“I thought it was very skillfully done,” said Monica Moorehead, the Workers World Party member from New Jersey who posed the question that elicited the remarks from McKinney. “I totally agree with her.”
When asked whether the Obama candidacy might alter the perception of dysfunction, Moorehead told the Voice, “Not fundamentally.” She cited her belief that the Democrat and Republican parties both represent interests that fail to align with the majority of Americans.
“Of course,” she added about Obama, “in terms of the historical significance, you cannot overlook that.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 21, 2008