Cynthia McKinney Aims to 'Unrig' the Political System With New Campaign

Douglas Simkin / CC 2.0

Robert David Steele, a former CIA clandestine case officer, and Cynthia McKinney, a former six-term congresswoman from Georgia, are teaming up to fight establishment politics and bring down the “deep state.”

Steele and McKinney have launched #UNRIG, an “educational project” aimed at restoring government integrity and mobilizing Americans to work with their elected officials.

“We want to empower the people of the United States to take their government back,” McKinney told Truthdig and other reporters during a press conference call Tuesday. “We have been steeped in a culture of a political system that has been rigged.”

The pair are embarking on a nationwide bus tour that will include lectures, rallies and events aimed at mobilizing Americans. Steele says that a key component of the project is his proposal for election reform, which he hopes will make its way into Congress sometime this year. Steele has created a graphic of his plan, “intended to inspire a public conversation.”

Considering their disparate political backgrounds, Steele and McKinney make a noteworthy team. During her six terms as a representative from Georgia, McKinney switched from the Democratic Party to the Green Party in 2008 (ultimately running as the Green Party presidential candidate that year).

Steele describes himself as “an alt-right white guy” whose work has been floated for a Nobel Peace Prize nomination (he has not yet been nominated, but Jan Helge Kalvik, editor-in-chief of Defence and Intelligence Norway, has submitted documents on Steele’s behalf to a Norwegian minister who is an accredited nominator).

In a press release this week, McKinney and Steele appeal to the “alt-right” and “alt-left,” noting that both groups want to undo government corruption. But McKinney acknowledges the problems associated with those two terms, saying, “I believe that some of the labels have been ascribed by others and not self-described. The language that we have chosen to use [is] populist left and populist right. I think that is a better way to conjure what is being termed ‘alt-left’ and ‘alt-right.’ If the ‘left’ and the ‘right’ are Democrats and Republicans, then there’s something outside the Democratic party and Republican party.”

Both terms capture the sense of disillusionment and distrust that many Americans feel toward their government. “I think that the spirit of this ‘alt’ or ‘othering’ was captured in the 2016 election with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump,” McKinney adds.

But while the desire to increase accountability and dismantle the two-party system may appeal to many Americans, some aspects of #UNRIG and its “alt-” associations may turn away potential supporters. Steele, both in association with #UNRIG and on his own, is a regular on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ show “InfoWars.” McKinney has appeared there, too—an association many progressives may find problematic.

Steele also has made some outlandish claims, asserting in a June 2017 interview on InfoWars that there are child slaves in a secret colony on Mars. He also regularly alleges that top American politicians engage in pedophilia, a topic he touched on again during the press call with Truthdig and other media outlets.

Ultimately, #UNRIG serves as another example of the growing disillusionment with American government and the similarities between Americans who find themselves outside the two establishment parties. Numerous other movements hope to disrupt the conventional two-party narrative and harness grass-roots power (for example, liberal groups such as Our Revolution, the Injustice Boycott, Justice Democrats and Stay Woke; and conservative groups such as the American Majority, the tea party and Turning Point USA).

Whether #UNRIG or the host of other organizations demanding change will be heard, in the 2018 election or beyond, remains to be seen.


Emma Niles
Assistant Editor
Emma Niles, an assistant editor at Truthdig, graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a degree in political science. She has worked for the National Women’s Law Center and Ms. Magazine.…
Emma Niles

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