The other day an article by Carl Mayer appeared in Dissident Voice, attacking David Cobb’s campaign and accusing him of taking the Green Party “over a cliff.” It was the most recent in a line of attack articles that have appeared from Nader supporters. Mayer wrote that the Green Party will “implode” if we don’t dump Cobb. A pending implosion seems unlikely, but if the party does implode it won’t be because of David Cobb, but rather because of articles like that by Carl Mayer that deliberately attempt to create divisions in the Green Party and play fast and loose with the facts.
Carl Mayer alleges the Green convention was “rigged” by David Cobb and his supporters and that the convention has now been widely-discredited, but there is no credible evidence that suggests the convention was rigged by anyone and the poorly-supported allegations that the convention were “undemocratic” only arose when it became clear to Nader supporters that he was not going to be able to get on many ballots via petition, in the hope that by making such a claim he might be able to supplant David Cobb’s rightful place on the Green Party line of various state ballots.
Mayer suggests that Cobb has only ever offered one rationale for his candidacy, that he will build the Green Party. To be sure, Cobb has made this claim, but he also is on record as saying he was running because he wanted to be the Green Party nominee, whereas the candidate Mayer supports is on record repeatedly as saying he did not wish to be the Green Party nominee and would not accept the Green Party nomination.
That David Cobb is the Green Party nominee is almost entirely attributable to the fact that Ralph Nader refused to accept the Green nomination, a point that Mayer is well aware. Indeed, myself and other folks from the Green Party of New Jersey – and probably from other parts of the nation -- were pointing out to Carl Mayer the dilemma Ralph was creating for the Green Party months before the Green Party convention, in a desperate attempt to get him to use his influence with his close friend and colleague, Ralph Nader, to agree to accept the nomination precisely to avoid the kind of division that his refusal has created. Carl didn’t respond to us then, so it seems highly disingenuous of Carl Mayer to suggest now we should replace Cobb with Nader, when it was so readily available to him five months ago. The timing of this wouldn’t have anything to do with Mr. Nader’s failures at ballot access, would it?
Mayer’s article is filled with inaccuracies and misleading statements. He says Cobb lost “every” primary he entered, but Cobb did win the DC primary. The Green Party only had a handful of primaries because in many states the Green Party is not recognized as an official party and in other states those primaries might be open to a horde of voters from outside the Green Party that could swamp the Green voters, so most states have conventions or caucuses. David Cobb did win most of those.
Mayer alleges that Cobb only prevailed at the Green Party convention because it was rigged. Where is the evidence of that? A simple analysis of the votes cast by round suggests the simpler explanation that Cobb had nearly a majority of delegates in the first round, from all the states he had won, and that an additional number of voters in the second round opted to support him. What a conspiracy!
Mayer says Cobb’s goal was to deny Ralph Nader ballot lines, but in point of fact (see above) it was Nader who denied himself all Green Party ballot lines. Only lately has he decided that they might be helpful. Mayer says Cobb is operating his campaign out of house (in Eureka, California) and a PO Box, but the campaign office is in New York City. Mayer says Cobb has no paid campaign staff, but the campaign actually has 8 full- or part-time paid staff persons, and numerous volunteers.
Mayer seems challenged at math. He says that if Cobb gets on 33 states but avoids 23 battleground states, he will be running a 10-state or less campaign. This assumes that the 23 battleground states are all ones that he would be on the ballot for, but if he really was to try to avoid those 23, why would he be on the ballot in those states? In any case, Cobb is not avoiding battleground states. That’s another myth put forward by Nader supporters.
Mayer says Cobb is failing to get on some state ballots. That is true, but Mayer makes it sound like Cobb is not getting on any, which is false. Cobb is already qualified for the ballot in 30 or more, having successfully gotten on ballots in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, Nebraska, Arkansas, New Jersey, New York, Washington, Louisiana, and Iowa via petitions. Cobb would be on at least two more if the Nader campaign was not actively stealing ballot lines from him by asking state Green parties to defy the national Green Party convention. Cobb will not come close to the 43 that Nader had last election, but Nader won’t come close this year to the 30 states that Cobb already has. Cobb is unlikely to get near the votes that Nader got last time around, but Nader will not get more than a fraction of what he got last time around either.
Mayer says Cobb has had nothing to do with the growth of the Green Party over the last few years, but Cobb has been a pivotal figure in speaking on behalf of the Green Party and at growing the Green grassroots.
Even that Carl Mayer represents himself as a Green is, in my opinion, somewhat misleading. Yes, he has worked with the Greens and run for Congress in NJ on the Green ticket, but in the GPNJ he is notorious as a close confidant of Ralph Nader’s and also notorious for not participating in the GPNJ except when he or his buddy Nader have something to be gained by it. In several years I was active with the GPNJ, the one state meeting I recall Carl Mayer participating in was the meeting to select delegates for Milwaukee. Mayer is Green just as far as Nader is Green, and we have seen how Green Nader has been of late.
Mayer says Cobb has attacked the Nader campaign, but in fact Cobb has bent over backwards to avoid attacking Nader. In a recently aired debate on KPFA radio Cobb was repeatedly smeared, lied about, and attacked by Nader’s Vice Presidential candidate Peter Camejo. Did Cobb attack back? No. He simply rebutted Camejo point for point. The progressive press, particularly CounterPunch, has been replete with Nader supporters attacking the Cobb campaign, often with wildly erroneous accusations. Has the Cobb campaign attacked back? They’ve tried to rebut the allegations, but the campaign has also gone on record as supporting Ralph Nader’s right to run and supporting his efforts at ballot access. Although Nader supporters have been brazenly hostile and destructive in attacking the Cobb campaign and trying to cause an “implosion”, the Cobb campaign has sensibly not responded in kind. The best support Mayer can muster is that Cobb “questioned Nader’s motivation this time around, saying he has no apparent goal and is taking contributions from people Cobb called ‘thinly veiled racists’”? That certainly does not sound like an attack. Especially when compared with Mayer’s own accusations that Cobb is “serving up his own brand of suicidal Cool-Aid [sic]” or leading the Greens “over a cliff”, or in so maliciously spreading falsehoods about the Cobb campaign. Or Mayer naming specific persons in the Green Party that he asks Green Party members to “remember” – suggesting “payback” – after the November 2 election. How characteristically Green is that idea?
Shouldn’t the average Green, Progressive, or independent voter wonder exactly what Cobb is wondering. What is Nader’s goal? He has no realistic chance to win the election, or even to do as well as he did last time around. He is building no organization that will last beyond this election cycle. In terms of issues, his campaign is as similar to Cobb’s as two peas in a pod, so he is not espousing a different platform. He is not helping to build the Green Party, but in fact tried to pressure it in a way that would undercut ballot access and popular support for the Green Party. Just what is the goal? One gets the sense that the Nader campaign is all about worshipping his Ralphness.
Furthermore, why is he attacking the Cobb campaign? It seems to be a political expedient intended to capture state Green Party ballot lines from the Cobb campaign as a back up plan to Nader’s repeated failures at petition drives. So the party eats its own young in grotesque political cannibalism. There does not seem to be anything else to be gained for Nader by attacking Cobb, and much to be lost for everyone, except possibly the Republicans. Mayer and his ilk are driving a giant wedge between Nader supporters and the rest of the Green Party, opening up a wound that will be difficult to repair. And for what? To go down to one last, most painful defeat? To rip the Green Party for spite?
We all see the electoral trap that Nader is caught in, but most of us expected a more positive, ethical response from Nader. It is sad to watch him lashing out like an animal, destroying what he helped build in a desperate attempt to do… what?
If Nader really cared about the issues he advocates, the movement and the party that are pursuing them, he could still choose to be constructive. He could still opt to use the publicity he commands and the fund-raising that supports him to build rather than destroy. That would be a tactic that really could surprise the corporate parties. It is not quite too late. Is it about these values or is it about the cult of Ralph?
Blyden Potts is a Green Party activist based in Pennsylvania. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.