Editor's note: This is an excerpt from former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney's acceptance speech for the Green Party presidential nomination, delivered at the Green Party Convention in Chicago, Ill., July 12.
In 1851, in Akron, Ohio, a former slave woman, abolitionist, and woman's rights activist by the name of Sojourner Truth gave a speech now known as 'Ain't I a Woman.' Sojourner Truth began her remarks, "Well children, where there is so much racket, there must be something out of kilter…"
As it was in 1851, so too it is in 2008. There is so much racket that we, too, know something is out of kilter. In 1851, the racket was about a woman's right to vote.
Just a few years before Sojourner uttered those now famous words … suffragists met in Seneca Falls, N.Y. and issued a declaration … "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal…"
And just like the women and men at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 who declared their independence from the Old Order, I celebrated my birthday last year by doing something I had done a dozen times in my head, but had never done publicly:
I declared my independence from every bomb dropped, every threat leveled, every civil liberties rollback, every child killed, every veteran maimed, every man tortured, and the national leadership that let this happen.
At that pro-peace rally in front of the Pentagon, I noted that
• Nowhere on the Democratic Party's Congressional Agenda for their first 100 days in the majority was any mention at all of a livable wage, the right of return for Katrina survivors, repealing the Patriot Acts, the Secret Evidence Act, the Military Commissions Act, or bringing our troops home now.
• Nowhere on the Congressional Democrats' agenda was an investigation into the Pentagon's "loss" of $2.3 trillion that Rumsfeld admitted to just before Sept. 11,. 2001.
• And nowhere was there any plan to get that money back for jobs, health care, education, and for veterans.
• Not even repeal of the Bush tax cuts that have helped to usher in, according to some, levels of income inequality not experienced in this country since the Great Depression.
• [Instead] of Articles of Impeachment to hold the criminals accountable, impeachment was taken "off the table."
Taking words directly from our own Declaration of Independence and from the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention document, "it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it."
Today's reality is harsh: Abu Ghraib, torture, rendition, lying, spying, war, stolen elections, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, New Orleans, poverty, racial profiling, Sean Bell, the San Francisco 8, Benton Harbor's Reverend Pinkney, the Holy Land Foundation, 9/11/01, embargo, blockade, friendly fire, depleted uranium, white phosphorus, cluster bombs, bunker busters, shock and awe. Predatory lending, mortgage crisis, foreclosures, a country $53 trillion in debt. And while Bear Stearns gets a bailout, you and I sink or swim.
Today's reality is harsh. But what's even harder for many to accept and admit is that our quality of life today is the making of the Democratic and Republican Parties. What our country has become through their public policy is reflective of their values.
We will never get a United States that is reflective of different values if we continue to do the same thing. Those who delivered us into this mess cannot be trusted to get us out of it… .
All over the world, Green Party members are working as elected leaders in government to make public policy reflect our Green values: Wangari Mathai, former Parliamentarian from Kenya, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate — Green Party member; Ingrid Betancourt, recently released hostage in Colombia, former Senator and Presidential candidate — Green Party member. Green Party members make public policy at the national level on every continent — not yet in our country.
Voters in this country are scared into not voting their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations. But in Bolivia and Ecuador and Argentina and Chile and Nicaragua and Spain, and India and Cote d'Ivoire and Haiti, voters were not afraid to vote their hopes and dreams and guess, what. Their dreams came true. Ours can, too.
Vote your dreams, Vote your conscience. Vote our future. Vote Green.