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Greens at Crossroads

Party Fights for Its Future

by JOSHUA FRANK

On Sunday, August 22nd, state delegates of the Pennsylvania Green Party formally rejected the strategy that their presidential candidate David Cobb should run a "safe states" campaign.

"Pennsylvanians have collected and filed the most signatures to get the Cobb/LaMarche ticket on the ballot," reads the resolution which passed by a decisive 24 to 7 vote.

"Pennsylvania is one of the top three states in elected Green Party officeholders … as Greens, we want to exert maximum possible pressure on the Democratic and Republican Parties, forcing them to address our issues; The Green Party of Pennsylvania asks that Cobb/LaMarche run harder in Pennsylvania than in the so-called ‘safe states,’ maximizing the strategic value of campaigning in this important state.

The Green Party of Pennsylvania encourages the National Green Party candidates to run vigorously in Pennsylvania and in all states, regardless of projected electoral outcomes; and The Green Party of Pennsylvania rejects any ‘safe states strategy,’ and calls upon the national candidates and all state Green Parties to do the same, and we call upon all voters to reject any candidate that does not oppose the Iraq War."

This was the second swing state in which the Green Party has urged David Cobb to campaign harder. In mid-August the Pacific Green Party of Oregon started the trend by passing their own resolution which has virtually the same wording as the Pennsylvania version.

"As to the latest decisions, it is interesting to note, for example, that Pacific Green Party resolution carried with a whopping 10 votes," contends David Cobb’s media coordinator Blair Bobier. "The combined ‘no’ votes and abstentions were greater than the positive votes [in Oregon]."

However, it is interesting that Cobb and company are complaining about the legitimacy of the resolutions despite the fact that their own campaign got elected by an even smaller amount of votes in many states.

When asked if this turn of events within the Green Party helps Ralph Nader’s independent bid, Nader’s spokesman Kevin Zeese said, "Unfortunately not, they will still be running Cobb — and the sad reality is that wherever Cobb runs he runs safe because he is an unknown with no resources [and he] is not trying to get a lot of votes."

"The first states I campaigned in after winning the Green Party’s presidential nomination were Pennsylvania and Ohio, two hotly contested swing states," responds David Cobb. "I’ll be returning to Pennsylvania next week and Ohio next month. I’ve been to Florida and will be back there as well. Next month I go to Wisconsin, Michigan and Maine, all swing states. I honestly don’t know how anyone who is paying even the slightest bit of attention can claim that I am not campaigning in these states."

Cobb however, forgot to mention that both Pennsylvania and Ohio were still in signature gathering stages when he "campaigned" right after his endorsement in late July. Nonetheless, we will see how hard Cobb campaigns in other swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin, where he is currently polling at well under 1%. Also it seems important to ask what it is Cobb is saying about a vote for John Kerry in those states. Is he still hoping Greens will "weigh their options," as he has said before? If so, it still isn’t clear who it is Cobb is campaigning for in swing states, himself or the Democrats.

Indeed the Green Party is at a crossroads. There are internal issues at play that could alter the course of the party’s delicate future. Cobb is at one end of the spectrum with Nader-Greens holding down the other. If the Green Party is to regain its once formidable power, let us hope the latter prevails.

JOSHUA FRANK, a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book, A Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush’s Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at frank_joshua@hotmail.com.