Can David Cobb Save America?

If you don’t know who he is, you’re not alone

Having seen Fahrenheit 9/11, I certainly understand all of the focus on Michael Moore these days. If John Kerry wins, he will owe a great debt of gratitude to the man doing 99% of the American news media’s job. However, he may well owe at least as much to someone whose recent victory has been lost in the F9/11 storm: David Cobb, the Green Party presidential nominee.

Don’t get me wrong, Cobb doesn’t go easy on Senator Kerry, and for perfectly understandable reasons:

WOODRUFF: But aren’t you really saying, David Cobb, that you’re going to tread lightly when it comes to seriously challenging John Kerry?

COBB: Well, Greens tell the truth. And the truth of the matter is, that John Kerry voted for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. John Kerry voted for the Patriot Act. John Kerry voted for NAFTA. John Kerry opposes single payer universal health care. John Kerry opposes raising the minimum wage to a living wage. I’m going to be willing to criticize John Kerry on taking positions that progressives cannot support, and that progressives would like to see enacted.


At the same time, I’m going to acknowledge the truth of the matter that as bad as John Kerry is on all these issues, George W. Bush is qualitatively worse. The difference between John Kerry and George W. Bush may be nearly incremental, but it is not inconsequential. I trust the voters to hear the truth, and make up their own minds.

Translation: he’s running that “safe states” campaign so many of us begged Ralph Nader to run in 2000. Mr. Cobb plans to run as strongly as he can to build a much-needed third party, while simultaneously doing everything in his power to “re-defeat” George W. Bush.

His running mate, Pat LaMarche, goes even further, making a virtually unprecedented statement in presidential politics:

Pat LaMarche, the Green Party’s newly nominated candidate for vice president, said Tuesday that her top priority is not winning the White House for her party, but ensuring that President Bush is defeated. She is, in fact, so determined to see Bush lose that she would not commit to voting for herself and her running mate, Texas lawyer David Cobb.

LaMarche, who won 7 percent of the vote when she was the Green Independent candidate for governor of Maine in 1998, said she’ll vote for whoever has the best chance of beating Bush.

If I weren’t already happily married, I think I’d be in love.

This is exactly what the Green Party and the country need. While Cobb has had nothing but kind words for Nader, his campaign is placing principle and the needs of the country ahead of their own ambition and the narrow, unbending ideology favored by some.

Meanwhile, Ralph Nader is reacting to his loss with all the style, grace, and reserve he’s become known for:

A day after not getting the Green Party’s endorsement for president, Ralph Nader brushed off the rejection as an inconvenience, described the party as “strange,” called the party’s national nominating convention “a cabal” and predicted who the big loser in its decision not to endorse him would be.

“The benefit was really for the Green Party,” Nader said yesterday of what an endorsement of him would have meant. “I don’t want to exaggerate it, so I’ll just say massively more.”

Since David Cobb has said so many glowing things about Nader, including that he’s tried to pattern his life in part on the consumer activist, Ralph had a predictably appropriate response:

“If you’re trying to build a political movement, you don’t turn your backs on people who happen to live in so-called close states,” Nader said.

Whoa. Good thing Ralph’s keeping his ego in check. Who knows what he’d say about the Green Party otherwise. Of course, he probably would have won the nomination handily if he could have been bothered to participate in their primary process. Instead, Nader chose a Green running mate at the last minute and tried to convince the party not to choose a nominee, leaving the choice of “endorsement” up to the individual states:

A week before the convention, Nader announced a deal for [Peter] Camejo to run as his vice-presidential candidate. Nader still refused to seek a formal nomination, however, instead asking the Greens to nominate no candidate of their own, but endorse the Nader-Camejo ticket instead. Nader would have the Green ballot line but would otherwise be under no obligation to the Greens, and the party would have no real voice in his campaign.

In crafting an intelligent, carefully considered campaign, Cobb has (pardon the phrase) “triangulated” himself neatly among Nader supporters, core Green activists, and borderline progressives. This virtually ensures that “safe state” liberals will vote for him in greater numbers, while avoiding the risk of helping Bush in battleground states. Cobb might even attract more voters than Nader in the “safe states,” while nudging uncertain progressives toward Kerry in the decisive battlegrounds. If the Green Party can spread the campaign’s message, they might well build the party at the grassroots level while reconciling with former Greens (full disclosure: like myself) and help to remove the Miserable Failure from office.

As our increasingly polarized nation becomes a tug-of-war between the so-called “red states” and “blue states,” the deciding hue might ultimately be green.

(/) Roland X
“Our world is unconquerable because the human spirit is unconquerable.” –Al Gore

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