By Joaquin Bustelo
The demogreen "realo" faction at the stacked "electoral college" Green Party Convention in Milwaukee has voted to deny Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo its ballot lines by nominating shamefaced Kerry supporter David Cobb for President.
Cobb is a paunchy, balding, middle-aged white lawyer with absolutely no claimed connection to social or protest movements. He says he discovered the evils of the two-party system in 1996, which doesn't prevent him from back handedly supporting Kerry today.
Over the past few months Cobb ran a stealth campaign in which he held virtually no public meetings or rallies -- not that he could draw any sort of crowd had he tried.
Instead, he focused on lining up green apparatchiks and delegates by pissing in their ear about how Nader was taking money from racists, on the one hand, and would refuse to share his list of contributors with the greens, on the other.
A playpen parody of the rules the Democrats and Republicans use for nominating delegates, including allocating representation to states with absolutely NO functioning green party units --facilitated the coup by the anti-Nader faction.
Even taking this into account, however, the success of Cobb's campaign for the nomination must be chalked up largely to Nader. After having put the party on the political map and won for it ballot lines all over the country, in 2004 Nader has consistently refused to accept responsibility for the party's course nor even tried to influence it in a positive direction.
Faced in the fall of 2003 with hostility from the Green Party tops to another run for the presidency, Nader decided to explore running as an
independent. Subsequently he rebuffed a draft-Nader movement in the Greens, saying he would not accept the Green national nomination even if it were offered.
After much prompting, he said he would take the Green's endorsement, provided the Greens first decided not to nominate anyone, thus facilitating the job of the demogreens in imposing straightjacket, undemocratic rules at the convention to prevent the options before the convention --backing Nader, nominating Cobb, or abstaining-- from being debated and voted against each other.
He waited until the eve of the convention to announce his choice of Peter Camejo as his vice-presidential candidate after having assured people privately for months that the California Green was his choice. Nader did not even bother to appear at the Milwaukee convention, preferring instead to do campaign events in Oregon.
Nader's tactics in relation to the greens are often ascribed to his supposed lone wolf individualism. Others speculate that he simply --and consistently-- miscalculated, that he is tone deaf or politically clueless.
However, there is another interpretation that makes sense. And that is that as a result of his long association with the Greens and his discussions with the national leadership last fall, Nader came to see that, at least as currently configured, dominated by a middle-class "realo" faction in the leadership, the Greens are becoming an obstacle to the emergence of a much more vigorous alternative to the two party system, and he decided to place no obstacles in the way of their self-destruction, at least as a *national* party, to clear the way for something better in the future.
And the truth is that the middle-class social layers that provided the base for Nader's previous runs and the Greens have succumbed to an "Anybody but Bush" hysteria, making them totally unfit to serve as a core around which to structure an independent political movement.
It is in this context that Cobb won support among hardcore non-ABB green activists by not talking too much about helping Kerry and instead bamboozling party activists miffed with Nader with a cock-and-bull story about Cobb running a party-building fall campaign.
Cobb will now give those honest Green organizers he hoodwinked an object lesson in why you should not act like a sect, counterposing your own narrow group interests to the way the masses have decided to express themselves politically, no matter how sore you are at someone like Nader.
And that is because pretty much ALL the new people interested in building an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans are ALREADY supporting Nader, and ALL the ones who WILL be won to such a perspective will be convinced by Nader and Camejo.
The most political among them will be angry at the Greens for squandering a couple of dozen ballot lines on the likes of David Cobb.
And should they by chance hear this nonentity pimping for a Kerry vote, that anger is likely to turn into fury and rage as they realize that the essence of Cobb's campaign --the Green Party's campaign-- is simply a pro-Democrat maneuver to deny the maximum number of people in the maximum number of states a chance to vote for Nader.
I guess some Greens imagined that at this convention they were deciding on who would challenge the Democrats and Republicans in the fall.
That is simply not true. That decision was already made by a whole series of historical factors and initiatives by various groups and individuals, and how masses of people responded.
There is one --and only oneóreal challenge on a mass scale to the Democrats and Republicans in the presidential race that is before the country.
That challenge is the Nader-Camejo ticket.
That ticket has the support of 10-20 MILLION people; that is what it means to get 5%-8% support among all adults in the public opinion polls.
By nominating Cobb, the Greens have decided that the appropriate way to address Nader's mass base is with an upraised middle finger.
Indeed, in reporting on this decision the bourgeois press has been unanimous in reading it this way: "Green Party snubs Nader"; "Green Party decides not to back Nader"; "Greens reject Nader endorsement."
Moreover, the choice is seen, clearly and unambiguously, as pro-Democrat.