Saturday, August 28, 2004

The Green Party: Local Progress, National Retreat

Carl Mayer, who served on the Township Committee of Princeton, New Jersey and ran on the Green Party ticket for Congress, wrote an acerbic commentary on the Cobb/LaMarche candidacy in Dissident Voice: "Cobb's Cool-Aid: Why the Green Party Will Implode if the Green Party Doesn't Dump Cobb Now" (August 24, 2004). Mayer lists a host of problems:
  • Cobb "has no paid staff and only a handful of people working on his non-effort, which he runs out of his house, using a P.O. Box, part-time."

  • "The Cobb for President Meet-Ups attract all of 167 people, WORLDWIDE: up from 57 people WORLDWIDE before the convention."

  • "Cobb is missing the deadline to get on the ballot in state after state, assuring that he will be on the ballot in many fewer states than the 43 that Nader was on last time."

  • Cobb's ally Medea Benjamin "has written that Cobb should not campaign in 23 battleground states. Assuming Cobb gets on the ballot in 33 states -- a reasonable assumption -- this mean Cobb will be running a 10 state or less non-campaign."

  • "So far he has raised about $150,000, around what is needed for a medium-sized town council race."

  • "Cobb's VP candidate, Pat LaMarche, when campaigning in her home state of Maine, announced at a press conference that she was NOT committed to voting for her running mate, David Cobb, and would vote for Kerry unless Kerry was 70 points ahead in Maine, in which case she could safely vote for Cobb. Well, since Kerry is not going to win any state by 70 points, that means LaMarche will not be voting for the top of her own ticket."

  • Cobb "will get, at most, 250,000 votes nationwide. This means Cobb will have shrunk the Green Party to 1/10 of its size in terms of votes (Nader received 2.7 million in 2000) and to less than 1/20 of its size in terms of money raised."
On the other hand, the Green Party is running the total of 405 candidates in 2004, of whom slightly less than a quarter may be expected to be elected, based on the average of "victory rates" (victories/candidates) of Green candidates 1985-2003 -- thus continuing the party's steady progress in increasing its number of local officeholders despite the certainty that Cobb/LaMarche 2004 will receive fewer votes than Nader/LaDuke 2000 did. That is not an unreasonable hypothesis, as many of the Green candidates are running for nonpartisan local offices and are likely to win or lose mainly on the strengths and weaknesses of their own campaigns, regardless of the fortune of the party's presidential ticket.

The question is whether the Green Party's local progress and national retreat is a one-time event, a temporary concession to the Democratic Party's aggressive Anybody But Nader campaign against a prominent left-wing alternative to John Kerry, or it becomes a precedent which will define the Green Party's future, effectively making it irrelevant in national politics. If the former, leftists who want a party of the working class and our allies can make the Green Party our home, working within it to make it a viable challenger to the Democratic and Republican Parties in national politics in 2008, recruiting activists and organizers for it out of such social movements as movements against the occupations of Iraq and Palestine. If the latter, however, we may have to conclude that the Green Party is going the way of other recent attempts at third-party building like the Labor Party and create a new political party willing to fight for the allegiance of working-class voters in not just one-party states but also battleground states, expanding the scope of working-class political participation and challenging rank-and-file Democrats at odds with the Democratic Party elite to join us.

After the November election, leftists inside and outside the Green Party who are discontent with the Green Party's AWOL from national politics in 2004 should get together and discuss what is to be done.


Anthony Kennerson said...

First off, Yoshie...thanks for the great job you do with your blog and your posts over at the marxmail list.

On the subject of this Cobb/Nader spat: I happen to have mixed views on this. Like you, I reject totally the ridiculous "safe states" strategy that the Cobb/LaMarche group is espousing, mostly because I prefer a Left party that actually acts like a party and not a handmaiden to the Democrats. (BTW, I am a registered Independent who left the Democrats over 10 years ago because I found them too conservative and not willing enough to defend or even promote the progressive values that I believe in.) However, I also happen to be more of a sex radical libertarian (small "l", of course) in addition to being a socialist, and I'm more than a bit put off by Nader's refusal to directly confront social and sexual issues..when he isn't directly pandering to social conservatives openly. If it wasn't for that, then I would proudly register myself as a Green..but I guess that given the current meltdown going on there, I may have been correct in my doubts about them.

But however my doubts or criticism of Nader may be, it simply angers me to no end the depths to which the Democrats will fall to drive him off the ballot. Pardon my French, but who the fuck do they think they are that they can cast themselves as the only "left" opposition to Bush and the Right..especially considering their record of acquiesing to his agenda time after time?? Why are they wasting so much of their firepower trashing and bashing Nader and those to their Left while they give a free pass to someone like Zell Miller (the alleged Democrat from Georgia who will introduce Bush tomorrow night) who consistently votes with the Republicans on issue after issue??? (And don't get me started about his racist past, either!!)

I am all the way with you, Yoshie, on the need for a REAL working-class based independent Left party...I only hope that the usual sectarianism and personality cult worship don't get in the way of it's formation.

Thanks, and I'll be commenting more often here.

Anthony Kennerson
Lafayette LA

Clara Listensprechen said...

Hey Yosh, I'm here from the Yahoo Group. And I did something stupid--I thought I had to register to post, and now I have a blog area I don't know what to do with. so if you just wanna drop by to say hey, it's OK.

Now about the GP. Like I was saying in the Group, I think it's the decentralization plank that makes it disfunctional, and, organizationally speaking, it needs to come to the same epiphany that our nation got to when it discovered one day that the Articles of Confederation didn't work.

A little central governance to glue the disparate pieces together actually helps a party, as much as it does a nation, to maintain regional identity and still be united in governance.

We need to re-discover the principle of E PLURIBUS UNUM.