August Media Rant: Interview With Ron Hardy
An Obamaniac recently told me that Barack’s election in November would be the best thing for the “little guy” since FDR. If true, you’d think the “big guys” might be threatened by him. Yet as of mid-July, 75 corporations have publicly committed to sponsoring the Democratic National Convention in Denver (compared to 50 for the Republicans). These “friends of the little guy” paying for Barack’s podium include pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Merck, huge corporate welfare recipients like Archer Daniels Midland, and telecommunications giant AT&T.
On July 12th, without corporate sponsorship, the Green Party of the United States at its Chicago convention nominated former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for President and hip-hop activist/journalist Rosa Clemente for VP. Rooted in America’s movement tradition for justice, McKinney in her acceptance speech linked her “Power to the People” campaign to 19th century abolitionist Sojourner Truth, who told a women’s convention in 1851: "If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!"
Northeast Wisconsin’s corporate media censored news of McKinney’s nomination even though Wisconsin Green Party co-chair Ron Hardy lives in Oshkosh and blogs for Gannett’s Oshkosh Northwestern. I interviewed Ron for this column to get his take on media coverage of McKinney and why citizens should consider voting Green in November.
Media Rants: How has the establishment, corporate media treated the McKinney campaign? Did corporate media show up at the Chicago convention?
Hardy: As far as I could tell, C-SPAN was the only "big" media present at the Convention. There were a number of independent media present, including Pacifica Radio, along with bloggers and independent film producers, but corporate media was nowhere.
Media Rants: How does the Green Party propose to get McKinney's message out in the face of what appears to be a corporate media blackout of her campaign?
Hardy: The campaign will have to rely on "under the radar" media outlets on the Internet and on the streets. Rosa Clemente is a journalist herself, and there are a host of underground media outlets such as Black World Today, The Final Call, Ave. Magazine, Black Commentator and others that have large and dedicated followings. I expect that a good portion of the word on this Power to the People ticket of McKinney/Clemente is going to be spread through social networks, underground zines (print and online), and word of mouth. I think we are going to see a lot more grassroots, "urban-roots" and "net-roots" campaigning from the McKinney-Clemente ticket.
Also keep in mind that the vote that this campaign is going to be targeting such as youth and other disenfranchised and disrespected groups are much more likely to be getting their information online or through social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook rather than "mainstream media". So does the lack of coverage matter that much anyway?
Media Rants: Why should progressives thinking of voting for Obama choose McKinney instead?
Hardy: We are already seeing a disintegration in Obama's "progressive" support, especially after his vote for the new FISA bill in the Senate that expands the Federal Government's domestic surveillance program and further erodes our civil liberties. True progressives are angry at Obama's apparent abandonment of core progressive positions on civil liberties, single-payer universal health care, living wage, fair trade over "free trade", ending the illegal and immoral Bush War on Iraq, and serving the People over the Corporate Interest.
If voters want to vote for a candidate that supports a single-payer universal health care system in America modeled after Medicare, if voters want an end to the War on Drugs, the War on Human Rights, and the War on Civil Liberties, and if voters want to vote for a candidate that has more federal experience fighting for progressive causes in Congress than both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama combined, then they will find a safe vote with Cynthia McKinney.
Media Rants: People often vote for third party candidates in order to “send a message.” What message would be sent by voting Green in 2008?
Hardy: The McKinney/Clemente Power to the People campaign is going to be providing a voice to the voiceless, and a choice to progressives who are tired of expecting the same people who led America into the mess it is in now to suddenly lead us out. We are losing our jobs to other countries that either provide universal health care or no labor rights at all; we are losing our homes to foreclosures; we are losing our privacy rights to the War on Civil Liberties; and we losing our appreciation and value for human rights in general. We as Americans need to reclaim our government and the values that we share as a Nation. A vote for McKinney and Clemente will send that message to Washington D.C.
The Nation’s John Nichols says, “McKinney is an ardent advocate for national health care, expanded education spending and energy policies that emphasize mass transportation and conservation rather than rewarding oil-company profiteering.” To see her “speak truth to power” approach to politics, watch the movie “American Blackout” (http://www.americanblackout.com/) and tell the corporate media to stop censoring the campaign.