[Marxism] Labor Standard article on Green Party convention

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 29 13:31:10 MDT 2004

(From the Labor Standard website, a small group of ex-SWP'ers hoping 
that a vanguard party can be built in the USA that meets or exceeds 
their misty-eyed memories of the SWP. Their most prominent member is 
Marxist intellectual Paul LeBlanc.)

Greens Nominate Cobb, Send Mixed Signals on Kerry and Iraq
by Mike McCallister


MILWAUKEE, Saturday, June 27, 2004

The Green Party nominated “safe states” candidate David Cobb today after 
adopting a platform with no mention of the party’s position on the 
future of Iraq.

Cobb, who managed Ralph Nader’s 2000 Green Party campaign in his native 
Texas, won 408 votes on the second ballot. “No Candidate,” the option 
preferred by both Nader supporters and those even queasier about hurting 
Democrat John Kerry, received 308 votes. Kent Mesplay, who sought to be 
a compromise candidate, drew 43 votes and last-minute candidate Joanne 
Bier-Beemon got 8 votes on the second ballot. Three delegates abstained.

The Greens decision was cheered in Democratic Party circles, as it may 
keep Nader’s independent candidacy off the ballot in California and 
several other states where undemocratic ballot access laws make it 
exceedingly difficult for candidates operating outside the two-party 
duopoly to even get a hearing.

Nader’s running mate and point man at the convention, Peter Camejo, was 
conciliatory after the vote, according to several supporters who 
attended a meeting following the balloting. Stressing that the 
Nader/Camejo campaign would continue, he said that the Green Party would 
now have to deal with the reality of two strong political tendencies 
with different orientations.

Camejo had hammered Cobb all weekend over the question of campaign 
strategy in the “battleground” states where Nader allegedly “spoiled” 
the election of Democrat Al Gore in 2000. After originally saying he 
would not campaign in these states, Cobb now says he will campaign 
there, but “the messaging will be different.”

Cobb has honed his campaign message so carefully that he uses identical 
sound bites whenever asked the standard questions. The approved line on 
Kerry is that he is “a corporatist and a militarist who supported the 
war and the Patriot Act,” but that George W. Bush is a real danger and 
progressives in swing states should “vote their conscience.” Cobb’s 
running mate, Pat LaMarche, who does talk radio in Maine, told reporters

Bush was “a threat to the entire world.” People who vote for Democrats 
“shouldn’t be vilified for making a choice.”

Camejo noted that many of Cobb’s more prominent supporters, like Ted 
Glick, Joel Kovel, and Medea Benjamin had all cited variations on the 
theme of Republican Bush as the most dangerous man in the history of the 
presidency. Asked if Kerry was not a “threat to the entire world,” 
LaMarche said she didn’t “know anyone more dangerous than George W. Bush.”

Of course, Nader has not been exactly pure on the question of how to 
relate to the two main bosses’ parties. He has called his candidacy a 
second front in the struggle to defeat Bush and has called on liberals 
to “put a scare” into the Democrats. He has accepted the endorsement of 
what’s left of Ross Perot’s Reform Party (a third capitalist party) and 
did an interview with a magazine sympathetic to xenophobe proto-fascist 
Pat Buchanan. He even advised Kerry in an open letter on his campaign 
website to choose John Edwards as his running mate. Edwards is the 
pro-war North Carolina senator who adopted a populist message during his 
run through the Democratic primaries this spring.

At the Green convention Camejo emphasized his own analysis that the 
corporate rulers are “smart enough to have two parties” and that “the 
Democrats make the Republicans possible.” Asked about Nader’s comments 
to the Buchanan magazine against open borders for free immigration, 
Camejo said that the question of how to deal with mass migrations from 
country to country was “complex.” Noting that “most migrants don’t want 
to move—they are forced to move,” he said that Nader is looking for the 
“most humane way to do this.” He also said that Nader agreed with him on 
current immigrants’ rights.

When asking Greens to endorse the Nader campaign, Camejo always stressed 
Nader’s strength in the polls and his ability to draw media attention to 
what is essentially the same message he carried through the 2000 Green 
Party campaign. Camejo said that Nader is getting as much as 12% support 
among young voters, and that up to 10 million people say they support 
Nader at this point, if the polls are to be believed.

The continuing occupation of Iraq did not actually dominate the 
attention of the delegates. Camejo in his speeches always cited Iraq and 
the Patriot Act as the central issues of this presidential campaign. 
Nader is the only real voice against the war and for immediate 
withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Camejo argued. Cobb has been 
somewhat more equivocal, saying on Pacifica Radio’s “Democracy Now!” 
program on the eve of the convention that the U.S. government “can’t 
just cut and run.” By the end of the convention, he publicly backed 
immediate withdrawal. Noting that the generals say they can move five 
military divisions anywhere in the world in five weeks, he said “we” 
could get out of Iraq in that time.

The party platform, which few delegates were able to read and was not 
amendable on the floor, allows Cobb much wiggle room as the campaign 
goes on. While attacking “preemptive invasions” as “prohibited by 
international law,” the platform is silent on what to do next on Iraq. A 
party spokesperson said the platform committee aimed to keep short-term 
issues out of the platform so it would be valid through the next four 

Yet in a lengthy section on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is a 
call for “the complete dismantling of the Israeli ‘separation wall’ in 
the occupied West Bank.”

Incidentally, the plank on Israel and Palestine (the “Middle East” 
plank) is excellent, not just calling for Israeli withdrawal from the 
Occupied Territories and recognition of a Palestinian state. “We support 
a U.S. foreign policy which promotes serious reconsideration of the 
creation of one secular democratic state, for Palestinians and Israelis, 
on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.”

Many working people looking for a way out of the two-party electoral 
trap joined or supported Labor for Nader committees in 2000. There is 
strong evidence that large numbers outside the “progressive” Anybody But 
Bush milieu are still attracted by Nader’s call to break from 
lesser-evil politics. Camejo’s presence on the ticket can both improve 
the message and reach out to the politically disfranchised: members of 
oppressed nationalities and youth. It is unlikely that similar numbers 
would gravitate toward the Green Party this year.


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