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On Caitlin Johnstone and David Cobb’s Attempt to Destroy the Green Party

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The following piece is dedicated to Peter Camejo, who would never have put up with this shit. We need more Peter Camejos and fewer David Cobbs.

Earlier this week we ran a piece by Yoav Litvin, in which he questioned why some Green Party members, including ex-presidential candidate David Cobb, who also served as Jill Stein’s campaign manager last year, would align himself with Caitlin Johnstone, a writer who openly calls for the left to team up with the racist far-right in order to fight the so-called “deep state.”

In this battle against the “deep state,” Johnstone has pleaded with the left to work with alt-right mastermind Mike Cernovich.

Trump-loving Cernovich, by any fair assessment, is a complete lunatic. But apparently Johnstone doesn’t think he’s too crazed or dangerous, writing:

“We lefties need to attack the establishment at every turn and circulate awareness of what’s really happening in the world, and when this means collaborating with the right wing, we should do it … Cernovich and I probably disagree on more things than we agree on ideologically, but where we do agree it’s absolutely stupid for us not to work together, because you can be damn sure the establishment Republicans and Democrats are working together to advance the agendas of the deep state … Cernovich and I can fight all day and all night over socialized medicine and whether white men really have it that hard. Until then that fight is a pointless waste of energy which distracts from the real clear and present danger posed by the deep state right now.”

Since when is her version of the overly-simplified “deep state” (which is apparently equivalent to the Illuminati in Johnstone’s mind) more important than tangible issues like capitalism, class dynamics, imperialism or the environment? Johnstone is emblematic of the left’s utter lack of political acumen. There’s no theory. No genuine ethos. No real organizing. Just a bunch of self-serving hot air. It’s the Johnstone-type of thinking that continues to ensure the left remains irrelevant.

Back to the disgusting Mike Cernovich, who hates gender equality and believes that white men are oppressed by big bad feminism. He’s tweeted that, “Not being a slut is the only proven way to avoid AIDS. If you love black women, slut shame them.” Fuck him. He doesn’t give a shit about women, class issues, climate change or the ugly side of capitalism.  Cernovich even told Andrew Marantz of the The New Yorker, “I believe in strong borders, including keeping out Islamic terrorists. If people think that’s inherently racist, fine—but I’m an American nationalist, not a white nationalist.”

That’s a fine line there Cernovich, one David Cobb, by embracing Johnstone’s twisted, hollow politics, doesn’t seem to understand. In my book, calling on one group of people to be denied entry into the US based on religion (and no doubt the color of their skin and country of origin), is flat-out racist. I for one want no part of any organization or political ideology that supports racism either overtly or covertly. Apparently Johnstone, and Cobb by proxy, don’t think this is a big deal.

Don’t let them fool you: it’s a very Big. Fucking. Deal.

Ask yourself, is Cernovich the kind of racist white dude you’d like to be in the trenches with fighting the mysterious “deep state,” however that’s supposed to happen? I sure as hell wouldn’t. The guy is a creep, yet Johnstone believes it is “absolutely stupid for us not to work together.” If this is what passes for the left these days, I want no part of it. Luckily, I think there’s plenty that agree with me. Let’s hope others speak up.

We should never ally with women-hating, race-baiting assholes. This isn’t like calling for an alignment with civil-liberty loving libertarians on certain issues, which has plenty of problems — it’s closer to prodding the left to team up with disciples of The Turner Diaries. How is that even defensible?

Johnstone, who is Australian, admits she doesn’t understand the cultural/racial divide in the United States. That sure is an understatement. So why is Cobb, and many others, so ga-ga over Johnstone? Could it be that she echoes Kremlin talking points and bogus conspiracies every chance she gets, exciting leftists looking for easy answers to today’s complex problems? Ding Ding. Of course, there’s much, much more. Despite the overwhelming evidence that DNC staffer Seth Rich wasn’t murdered for releasing emails, Johnstone has stood her conspiratorial ground. She’s also written for 9/11 Truth sites, so one can assume she is at the very least sympathetic to their fruitless cause.

That’s about all I can take of this self-proclaimed “rouge journalist”. She’s not worth the energy.

The questions Yoav Litvin raised in his piece are important, but I think it’s even more vital to ask why certain Greens continue to align themselves with David Cobb who promotes Johnstone’s silly bullshit. Jill Stein has been in the game a long time, you’d think she’d smell a rat when she saw one. Apparently not.

Below are two pieces I wrote over twelve years ago, explaining why I left the Green Party and how David Cobb did his best to usher the Greens into irrelevancy. Seems to me that he’s up to his dirty ol’ tricks yet again.

I hope this time Greens finally tell Cobb he’s gone too far. They should have done it a long fucking time ago.

***

OCTOBER 9, 2004

I officially changed my voter registration and left the Green Party this past week. Or, more aptly put, the Green Party left me. Actually, they abandoned many of us last summer when they decided not to run a candidate for president.

Oh, I know what you are thinking: “They are running a candidate. His name’s David Cobb. Give the guy some respect!” My rejoinder: If David Cobb is a presidential candidate, then why have an oppositional party that is supposed to challenge the Democrats and Republicans at all? What good is it? For me, it is not that the legitimacy of Cobb’s nomination is suspect — although it is; Rather, what I find bothersome is the way that Cobb has chosen to run his insipid campaign and the cultish drones within the Green Party who refuse to acknowledge that Cobb’s bid is actually hurting the Party — and the Left — while aiding George W. Bush’s re-election in the process. Ignorance must be bliss.

As of August 31, the Cobb campaign had raised just a little over $100,000 — by far the least of any presidential aspirant. The Greens boast of having 600,000 members, but if each only gave Cobb’s campaign $1, he’d have six-times as much money as he does now. This is a clear indication that Cobb does not have even the majority of his own party’s backing, let alone substantial outside assistance. Nevertheless, Cobb still contends that he has reached “millions and millions of people.” Yet, the only polls that even include Cobb in their totals say he’s polling at around 0.05% nationwide. Last time I checked, such a number didn’t surpass the threshold for bragging rights.

Cobb insists that he is unconcerned with his vote count, though. In fact, he says the vote count is “one of the least important indicators of support” for his campaign. As the presidential hopeful explains, “In our first presidential campaign in 1996, Ralph Nader received less than 1% of the vote, and I think it’s safe to say that we did not become politically irrelevant afterwards.” But Cobb fails to mention that Nader’s 1996 (which Nader doesn’t even consider a presidential run because he didn’t campaign) bid marked the Greens’ first real stab at a Presidential election. They had nowhere to go but up.

The pack of Green Party members supporting Nader this year are also of no concern to Mr. Cobb, even though many are swiftly deserting the party to rejoin Nader’s camp. Popular East Coast Green Party member Howie Hawkins is running Nader’s upstate New York campaign, and Pacific Green Party stalwart Lloyd Marbet is supporting Nader in Oregon, not to mention California’s Green Party member Peter Camejo signing on to be Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate. None of this seems to phase Cobb, who surmises the traitors will come running back to the Greens when Nader is finished in November. Could Cobb be any more narcissistic?

Besides, Cobb contends, Nader is just a “cult of personality.” As Cobb relayed when I interviewed him, “When this election is over, I, thankfully, won’t be considered the Green Party’s ‘leader’ or figurehead. So if people simply ‘follow’ either Ralph Nader or David Cobb then they’re not following principles or being part of a movement.”

Cobb, no doubt, reveals just how bewildered he truly is. If the Left throws their weight into the bourgeois electoral ring, they better be prepared to come out swinging. That means somebody better be ready to represent the movement. After all, it isn’t the movement that stands behind a microphone. It is not the movement that debates other movements. No, it is one person representing that movement. Clearly, Cobb ain’t that guy. It also looks like the Green Party ain’t that party. At least not this election season.

Nevertheless it is not the Greens’ goal this year to challenge the political status quo. As Cobb admits, “I don’t have any goals for votes except for states in which we need a certain percentage to retain ballot access. In terms of tangible objectives, I want to register more Green voters, support local candidates, and retain ballot lines.” So Cobb just wants to register some Greens and maintain ballot lines. Forget challenging the two corporate war parties head on. Save that for four years from now when we are still in Iraq, and thousands more soldiers — not to mention countless Iraqis — are dead. We’ve got some school board positions to fill here. I guess Cobb has his priorities. I just don’t happen to agree with them. Cobb is basically admitting he doesn’t think the Green Party can run in local or national elections. I guess he can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Besides, when has any social movement been successful when it lacked any type of leadership?

In a debate with Peter Camejo on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! , Cobb even went as far to say that the US can’t just “cut and run” in Iraq. Cobb informed me that he now regrets taking the same position on Iraq as both John Kerry and George W. Bush. “I knew saying those words in particular was a mistake the moment they left my mouth, and I have clarified my position ever since.” Glad he’s come clean. But while Cobb offered four long responses to other questions on Goodman’s show, he never did retract his gaffe.

The bottom line? Cobb has failed to step into the ring, let alone lace up his gloves. First, he ran for the nomination of the Green Party on what he called a “safe-state” approach, where he would not focus his energy on those states that could put pressure on Kerry. “And the way that I think we can accomplish both my primary goal and as well as the secondary is to target the very finite resources of candidate time and money into those states which I call the ‘safe’ states, or the states that are not in play,” he told the Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel.

What Cobb and most Greens do not realize is that they are inadvertently helping re-elect George W. Bush while giving Kerry a free ride. So who is surprised that Cobb doesn’t have much support, financial or otherwise? I mean, I always root for the underdog, but the Greens aren’t even in the damn game.

Ralph Nader, on the other hand, realizes that many on the Left have lost their spine, and Bush may win as a result. “It is a total loss of nerve,” Nader told Goodman in a recent interview.

“I mean, first of all, they didn’t ask anything of Kerry. They said to the voters in the close states like Michigan, Wisconsin, Oregon … vote for Kerry, quote, ‘even though we strongly disagree with Kerry on the war and other issues,’ end quote. Well, when you don’t demand anything of Kerry, he gets worse. If you don’t make Kerry better, he gets worse. Because the corporations are demanding 24 hours a day. They’re not squeamish like the Left is. More important is that if the Left believes that their issues are compelling issues to the majority of the American people, they should be proud to pull Kerry toward them so he can get more votes. It’s as if they’re ashamed of their issues, like, ‘gee, living wage, that’s a very important issue, but it’s not a big vote-getter. Like full health insurance for all, that’s very important. We want to pull Kerry in that direction. It’s not like getting out of Iraq, where now a majority of people are saying it was a mistake to send the troops in, and 42% of the people want the troops back yesterday. Oh no, no, no. Don’t pull him into this issue; it’s not a vote-getter.’ This is the collapse of the Left … They have in effect put a figurative ring in their nose. They have said to the Democrats, ‘because the Republicans are so bad, we collapse. We’re going for the least-worse.’ When you don’t make any demands, when you engage in unconditional surrender, why should Kerry ever look back at you? Why should he give you the time of day?”

Nader was not talking about the Green Party in particular, but he might as well have been. The Green Party and the Left have collapsed, and whether Cobb admits it or not, he’s now at the helm of the sinking vessel. How could I remain a member of a party that is committing political suicide? I tried, but quickly found that there was no way I could stay afloat, let alone justify my party’s demise. That is why I jumped ship and swam safely to shore. Only to find that I was not alone.

***

FEBRUARY 25, 2005

The ashes of the 2004 election battle have finally settled, and sadly the Green Party is buried in the rubble still gasping for air. Even so, if you have heard any of the sordid mutterings from staunch Green loyalists, they are spinning quite a different tale.

Take prominent Green apologist Ted Glick, who has failed miserably at seeing the error of the Green Party’s choice to run David Cobb in 2004. “[Our vote total] was less than expected,” he recently spewed in an online missive, “but the fact is that the cumulative vote for all 14 ‘third party’ Presidential candidates on the ballot . . . was a little less than 1.2 million.” Apparently, to Mr. Glick, such a diagnosis somehow emancipates the GP’s own tepid performance—for no third party did exceptionally well.

Not sure if the Greens’ vote total was less than expected, however, David Cobb told CounterPunch during the “height” of his quest for the presidency that he had “no goals for votes.”

The Greens could and should have been vociferously opposing the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they opted for a “smart-growth” (read: safe-state) strategy instead, where they’d stay well below the electoral radar. They should have been on the frontlines of the campaign scene, denouncing John Kerry and George Bush’s neoliberalism and their handling of the downward economic spiral, civil liberties infringements, and environmental catastrophes. Instead, the Green Party caved and, regardless of what Ted Glick and others claim, paid a steep price, getting pounded at the polls as a result.

David Cobb and his running mate Pat LaMarche earned a little over 118,000 votes on November 2, 2004. Even though only half a million people voted for Ralph Nader in 2004—a drastic decline compared to four years earlier when 2.8 million people voted Green—Nader still managed to garner five times as many votes as the GP on Election Day 2004, despite being vilified by professional leftists, Greens, progressives, and bemused Democrats.

Many still cite the drastic reduction in votes for Nader in 2004 as evidence of failure but it is wrong to compare his two runs in these terms. In the second case, Nader had no party to back him, and in the wake of the 9/11 “Anybody But Bush” hysteria, many who were with Nader in spirit decided to cast their votes for John Kerry in hopes of unseating Bush. Political expediency didn’t work, however.

An example of the ruin: In Minnesota, the Green Party has enjoyed major party status since 2000, but is now heading back to the political fringe. Cobb’s poor vote total disqualified the Greens from $400,000 in public subsidies and automatic ballot access in the state. Looks like they will have to start over from scratch in the state, as well as Connecticut, Montana, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico and Rhode Island, where the Green Party lost the presidential ballot access they had acquired during the 2000 election.

The Green Party didn’t fare very well in local races either, where Cobb and others claimed they would stay strong. Failing to show up, the Greens were outgunned all across the board by Libertarians, Constitutionalists, Independents and, yes, even Socialists in some cases. Regardless, many Greens still claim that they “grew” in 2004. Green Party members Starlene Rankin and Mike Feinstein of California wrote in Green Pages following their November butchering that:

“14 states ran the most Green candidates ever, and overall at least 431 Greens ran for office in 41 states … The Greens won 68 victories out of 431 races in 2004, including 12 City Council seats and 18 victories overall in California. There are now a record 221 Greens holding elected office across the US.”

Growing in numbers doesn’t mean growing in strength. Currently, the Green Party claims to have exactly 313,186 members in 22 states across the US. If this is indeed accurate, that means almost 200,000 of those members did not even cast a vote (let alone donate cash) for their party’s presidential ticket in 2004. How can Ted Glick and others claim that this was a “success?” Not to mention their “smart-growth” strategy did not even elect the man they hoped would win: pro-war Democrat John Kerry.

Despite this “growth,” sources at the Green Party headquarters reveal they are in dire straits financially. It isn’t likely that the Green Party’s DC office will have to close in the immediate future. Nevertheless if money doesn’t start rolling in soon, sources admit, it may well happen down the road.

What is interesting is that Green Party “think tanks” have recently received big bucks from significant Democratic contributors Richard and Marilyn Mazess of Wisconsin. According to the FEC the Mazess clique have given well over $50,000 to the Democratic Party since 2003. They contributed some money to the Green Party following the election in 2004 and they also tossed Ralph Nader several thousand dollars this past election—perhaps to cover their own Democratic tracks.

Nonetheless, two spanking new Green Party non-profits are now robust and thriving. The Green Institute, which is headed by ex-GP Operations Director Dean Myerson, and the Liberty Tree Foundation for Democratic Revolution, which is headed by ex-GP chair Ben Manski (both Cobb backers) have collected a combined $500,000 from the Mazess duo.

This raises questions as to which direction the GP will proceed in the future. How much influence will these “think tanks” have, especially if the GP itself continues to struggle financially? Will it be replaced by these non-profit careerists? Will fruitless “smart-growth” campaigns continue to be the failing GP strategy?

To no surprise, David Cobb is now on the Board of Directors at the Green Institute “think tank.” Akin to Theodore Glick, Mr. Cobb still claims his losing campaign strategy was a winner. Narcissism runs rampant indeed.

This is not to say that there aren’t spurts of dissension starting to pulsate within the party’s grassroots. A quest to take back the GP is already underway. Many Greens are coming together under the banner of the “Green Alliance” to shift internal power away from Cobb and others, and back into the hands of the membership. Green Party veteran Peter Camejo, who was Ralph Nader’s running mate this past election, is also contemplating the best way to mend the fractures currently leaking what little strength the GP has left.

Let’s hope that Camejo, the Green Alliance and other like-minded Greens can join forces and topple the current party “leadership.” If they aren’t successful, 2004 won’t be the worst election the Greens will ever endure.

More articles by:

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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