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For a Cobb Candidacy

By Bart Everson

Greens all around the country are gearing up for the national convention this week, myself included.

My first-round vote is committed to Jonathan D. Farley, but it’s clear at this point that Farley does not have enough delegates to win the nomination.

The choice seems to be narrowed to Cobb or Nader or no one.

Four years ago, we heard the refrain “A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush.” Now I’m hearing that “A vote for Cobb is a vote for Kerry,” that is, that supporting Cobb means you’re a crypto-Democrat. The idea is that since a Cobb candidacy would undoubtably be far weaker than a Nader candidacy, it helps Kerry by diminishing the “spoiler” effect. Some Greens might agree with this, and I can’t say I entirely blame them. Bush is dangerous; Bush must go. But that has nothing to do with my opinion on Nader.

I feel the best and most balanced article on the subject is “Time of Testing for Green Party.” Ted Glick lays out the positives and negatives for both Nader and Cobb. He doesn’t come to any conclusions, which is a luxury we won’t have at the convention. I’d encourage everyone interested in the question to read it and weigh his points carefully.

Here’s my personal opinion:

I would really love to believe in a Nader candidacy. After all, I supported Nader the last two times he ran for president. All the positives in the Glick article apply, and I agree with that assessment.

But I keep coming up against the same objection. Nader could have sought the nomination of the Greens, but he did not. He could have announced his independent candidacy and still sought the Green nomination, but he didn’t. Furthermore, despite a rather sizable effort within the Greens to draft Nader, he has stated repeatedly that he will not accept our nomination. He’ll accept our endorsement if we decide not to run a candidate of our own. The distinction between nomination and endorsement is significant.

Why has Nader chosen this path? The answer seems obvious to me. He is more interested in running an independent campaign in 2004 than building a party for the future. I disagree with this strategy. Greens need to think long-term. That means building the Green Party identity in this country as a movement that people identify with our values. And that, in turn, means not running the same candidate every four years.

Therefore I’m inclined to be skeptical about working with Nader in 2004. I think it would be better for the Greens to run one of their own. Practically speaking, that means Cobb.

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