Commentary: Cynthia McKinney Likely Back in Congress – Blow to Racism and Reaction

An important blow against racism and reaction was struck in Georgia, July 20. Cynthia McKinney’s victory in Georgia’s 4th congressional district in the Democratic primaries means it is almost certain that her courageous voice will be heard again inside the halls of Congress.

McKinney, a progressive African American, represented the 4th district until 2002. While serving in Congress, she earned the wrath of the Bush administration by asking what the Bush administration knew about the events of September 11. She also slammed the war profiteering by Bush cronies, opposed moves to attack Iraq and often criticized Israel. She constantly opposed moves to curtail civil liberties.

In the 2002 Democratic primaries, McKinney was targeted by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The Washington-based Zionist lobby backed McKinney’s opponent, Denise Majette. The 40,000 white Republicans crossing over to the Democratic primary assured Majette’s victory. Much to the surprise of her supporters, this year Majette decided to make a bid for the Senate – leaving her House seat open for the 2004 election.

McKinney’s July 20 victory came as a surprise to many political observers, and has sparked consternation among conservatives and supporters of Israel. McKinney garnered 51% of the votes in the primary, thus avoiding a runoff election. She beat challengers who had more money by a two-to-one margin. The strong turnout by Blacks in DeKalb County and a powerful grassroots campaign were important factors in her success. While she still faces Republican Catherine Davis in the November elections, McKinney is expected to win in a district that traditionally votes Democratic.

Some of the most racist and reactionary forces in the country worked to drive Congresswoman McKinney from office in 2002. They used an unfair electoral system – the crossover of white Republican voters to the Democratic primaries was a device to deny Black voters political power. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is one of Washington’s most powerful lobbies, and there are relatively few politicians willing to oppose its reactionary positions.

McKinney’s recent victory is a success for the African American freedom movement and its allies. It is a rejection by the voters of Georgia’s 4th district of the entire direction that Bush is taking this country. Another victory for McKinney this November will bring a powerful advocate for equality and peace, and a fighter who articulates the demands of the oppressed and exploited, back to Congress.