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Letters to the editor

October 8, 2004 | Page 4

Michelle stood for justice
What Nader and Cobb share
When a Green goes after reds

Picking Cobb is a setback

Dear Socialist Worker,
William Anderson accuses Ralph Nader of "being in bed with the Democrats" and abandoning the Green Party ("SW should quit attacking Cobb," September 17). He also claims that Ted Glick and Medea Benjamin's "safe-states" strategy doesn't represent the campaign of Green Party candidate David Cobb.

If Benjamin and Glick's "safe states" strategy doesn't represent the Green Party, how about what Cobb himself said? In an interview with Michael Albert, Cobb said that the greatest short-term need of progressives is "to get Bush out of office." Cobb admits that he is allocating resources into "safe states."

This is a formula for irrelevancy. A third party will not remain viable unless it consistently threatens Democrats' votes at every level. And even if Cobb weren't running a safe-states campaign, his campaign doesn't challenge the Democrats. Cobb polls at less than 1 percent in almost every poll. As for the idea that Nader is in bed with the Democrats, the Democrats have spent millions on corporate law firms to try to keep Nader off the ballot.

Nader does have an illusion that he will help Kerry by running an all-out campaign that will force Kerry leftwards. This is one weakness of the campaign, because it sidesteps the question of building a long-term alternative and implies that the Democratic Party can be reformed.

However, the prevailing message of the campaign is to "vote your hopes, not your fears." This means that in practice that Nader's campaign sharply poses an alternative to the Democratic Party, attracting activists fed up with Kerry, whereas Cobb's underwhelming campaign has capitulated to the Democrats.

Nader and Camejo have done more to build the Green Party than any two other individuals. Nader's 2000 campaign led to the formation of 450 Green chapters. Unfortunately, endorsing Cobb and accepting the "safe-states" strategy means the Greens will likely be irrelevant in the presidential campaign and lose many ballot lines, shrinking the size and influence of the party.

In Madison, Nader drew an excited crowd of 1,100 the same week that Cobb drew 100. The endorsement of Cobb is a political setback for the Green Party, as it avoids running a strong campaign against the Democrats and Republicans and compromises the independence necessary to build a defiant alternative to the corporate duopoly.
Bill Linville, Field Coordinator Nader/Camejo 2004, Madison, Wis.

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Michelle stood for justice

Dear Socialist Worker,
Michelle Reeves, a Georgia State University student, poet and activist, died September 26. She drowned in her grandparents' lake. My earliest memory of her is from Spring 2003. She was one of the many students who felt compelled to speak for peace and against the war on Iraq.

This year, Michelle planned to join me in building a student antiwar organization on campus. She cared deeply about the tragedy and suffering of the thousands of Iraqi and American families who have lost loved ones in the war.

Like them, I am saddened with the loss of a friend, but Michelle's inspiration will never be lost. My memories of her will help me to continue the cause she stood for--the fight for peace and justice. She will be missed.
Desmond Gardfrey, Atlanta

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What Nader and Cobb share

Dear Socialist Worker,
In "Cobb or Nader: Where are the Greens headed?" (SW, August 20), Todd Chretien presents a misleading portrait of David Cobb and the Green Party convention in Milwaukee that nominated him. Chretien tells us that Cobb had promised to campaign for Kucinich if he won the Democratic primaries in spite of Kucinich's support for Kerry at the convention.

This is guilt by association at its worst. Had Kucinich won the nomination, it is highly likely that he would have promoted his own views on Iraq, which are quite different from Kerry's.

Peter Camejo won the California primary, but he made it clear that his delegates would be uncommitted at the convention. A vote for Camejo in the primary in March cannot be interpreted as a vote for a Nader-Camejo ticket that did not exist until June.

Furthermore, the plan for allocating delegates between the states was approved in November 2003, with Cobb and Nader supporters coming down on both sides of the vote. Cobb was simply more successful in persuading undecided delegates than Nader.

Some of Cobb's supporters did not want to run a presidential candidate at all, and others backed him in spite of his strategy, not because of it. One key to Cobb's victory was that Nader sought an endorsement instead of the nomination.

Both Cobb and Nader supporters are dedicated to running Green candidates for everything from Soil and Water Conservation Boards to the Senate. Our similarities are so much greater than our differences, and that is what we Greens will be focusing on after November 2.
Tom Yager, From the Internet

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When a Green goes after reds

Dear Socialist Worker,
Green Party member Howard Switzer recently wrote a letter criticizing SW's support for Ralph Nader. ("Camejo needs to be honest," September 3) Switzer questioned if Nader's running mate, Peter Camejo, a former member of the Socialist Workers Party, might be a "lizard--green on the outside, but red on the inside." "Not that there's anything wrong with that," he added, sounding for all the world like an infamous episode of Seinfeld.

In a more recent commentary, "Avocado vs. Leafy Greens," Switzer wrote, "The Avocado Greens [the Nader/Camejo faction] are the opportunists and radicals. The Leafy Greens [the Cobb/LaMarche faction] are the pragmatists and the idealists."

Let's be honest about what Howard's doing here: it's called red-baiting. Switzer doesn't exactly spell out what nefarious "opportunists and radicals" are backing Nader/Camejo and leading the Greens astray, but it isn't too hard to figure out that he's pointing the finger at socialists (including, probably, members of the International Socialist Organization) who have been involved in the campaign and dared to challenge the logic of the "Anybody But Bush" Greens who have thrown their lot in with David Cobb.

Why shouldn't we criticize this? Cobb, after all, openly admits to pursuing a "safe-states" strategy on his Web site. Not only does this make the Greens weaker as a party, it weakens the U.S. left as a whole.

After all, if the Greens this year convince people who want an alternative to vote for the worst Democrat (Kerry), why shouldn't those people always vote for Democrats, albeit slightly better ones like Denis Kucinich? It sacrifices the very notion of the need for an independent third party.

Also, how anyone could suggest that having Greens in swing states vote for a pro-corporate, anti-gay, pro-war candidate is "idealistic" is beyond me. These are the questions that Switzer and others need to answer right now, not whether Peter Camejo is "red on the inside."

Sadly, by nominating Cobb and refusing to take a genuine independent stand, the Greens this year have cut the legs out from under their own party. That is a tragedy for the left in this country. And if Howard Switzer wants to label us "opportunistic radicals" for pointing that out, so be it.
Nicole Colson, Chicago

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