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The Politics of Mendacity

by JOSHUA FRANK

 

The Green Party of the United States will have a lot of fractures to mend after November’s election. With every passing day the party that used to represent the heart and soul of progressive causes, has gone weak in the knees, and fallen right on its boneless ass.

By now we all know that the Greens failed to endorse Ralph Nader for president at their convention in Milwaukee Wisconsin last June, and instead picked lawyer David Cobb as their candidate of choice. Cobb is not only a no-name; he’s been a no-show, as his stealth candidacy flies right under the presidential radar of even the alternative media.

It was the greatest error the Greens could have made by running Cobb — as they proved to the Democrats that they will back down from a fight when bullied.

It would have been wiser for the Green Party to not run any candidate at all, then choose to allocate their minimal resources behind Cobb’s bid; which was done only to retain ballot access in twenty-some-odd states. But it is too late now. The Green Party will forever have to make up for its shameless gaffe.

Significant numbers of registered Greens are disillusioned by the whole charade. Many have decided to back Ralph Nader or abandon the party all together. It is just too embarrassing they contend. Politics isn’t for the faint of heart, and a party that was founded on radical environmental ideals cannot afford to become the club of concessions and compromise. Progressive voters have the banal Democrats for that.

The “safe state” strategy that has been embraced by Cobb, could well be the first nail in the party’s coffin. By backing Cobb, Greens have decided not to run in any state that could tilt the election one way or the other. Ultimately they want to have no impact whatsoever.

Cobb claims such a proposal will help build the Green movement. He cites statistic after statistic of how the party is growing across America. But he does not reveal why the Greens have failed to build a broad coalition that is capable of challenging the corporate entrenched Democrats, who continually neglect progressive values.

The fact is Greens have done little to attack the unwavering two-party system in Washington. And by running a “safe state” campaign, Greens are admitting they believe John F. Kerry offers a significant alternative to George W. Bush. On what grounds they don’t say. But it wouldn’t be surprising if Cobb formally endorsed the Kerry/Edwards ticket — it’s already happened in a not-so-blatant manner.

Ralph Nader’s running mate Peter Camejo, who has run for governor and the US Senate as a California Green, understands the graveness of error his party has made this election season.

Speaking for the Nader campaign Camejo addressed the Green Convention in Wisconsin. “This campaign will stand against the Bush/Kerry pro-war stance,” Camejo told Green dlelegates, “because the biggest political error made by progressives is instead of opposing a policy, they oppose an individual, and think that if you change the individual, you change the policy.”

Cobb’s running mate, Pat LaMarche, who admitted she may not even vote Green in her home state of Maine, responded to Camejo by urging progressives in “safe states” to vote for the Cobb/LaMarche ticket, while advising Greens in the swing states to “vote their conscience.”

It was an appalling declaration to say the least. Greens would rather see a change in “individual” rather than “policy,” as Camejo put it. And Kerry has made it crystal clear where he stands on vital issues like Supreme Court appointments, war, trade, and domestic policy.

Greens would do well to have foresight in understanding the magnitude of unintentionally endorsing John F. Kerry for president. It delegitimizes their efforts and corrupts their moral-fiber. What good is a political party if it encourages one to vote for the opposition? That is a question we should all be asking Cobb and LarMarche as they continue to run their anti-campaign, campaign.

The Green Party now regrettably signifies the politics of mendacity. Picking up the pieces of their shattered foundation won’t be easy.

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.

 

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JOSHUA FRANK is managing editor of CounterPunch. His most recent book is Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, co-edited with Jeffrey St. Clair and published by AK Press. He can be reached at joshua@counterpunch.org. You can troll him on Twitter @joshua__frank

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