Perfect Circle - G&G Interviews
A Persuasive Progressive:
G&G Talks with Presidential Candidate David Cobb
David Cobb is the Green Party's candidate for President in the 2004 election. Cobb is a native Texan. He grew up in the small shrimping town of San Leon, Tex., where he worked as a construction worker for several years before waiting tables and putting himself through college. He graduated from the University of Houston Law School in 1993, and then in 2000, when he was enjoying a successful law practice, Ralph Nader approached him and asked him to run the Green Party effort in Texas. Cobb agreed, and coordinated the ballot access drive there that collected over 76,000 signatures in 75 days. When Cobb then ran for Attorney General of Texas in 2002, there were four local chapters of the Texas Green Party. When Cobb's campaign finished, there were 26 local Texas Green Party chapters. Today, Cobb serves on the Steering Committee of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County, a citizen's group dedicated to contesting and challenging the illegitimate corporate usurpation of our Constitution and our government.
As part of our effort to amplify unheard political voices, and to explore a political perspective outside the corporate media's narrow purview, Garlic & Grass spoke with Cobb by phone, reaching him shortly after he had been barred from participating in the presidential debate in Miami. He participated, instead, in a alternative debate with Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik.
Below is a transcript of the interview, edited slightly for clarity.
G&G: Why are you running for president? Why is it important for American
citizens to vote for you? What if folks decided to, say, register Green to
send a message, but then actually vote for Kerry?
David Cobb: I'm running for president as the Green Party candidate to ensure that the only political party that's advancing a genuine progressive agenda has a presidential candidate. The Green Party is the party opposed to the war in Iraq and demanding that our troops be brought home. The Green Party is the party calling for the development of sustainable energy sources to wean ourselves off the addiction to fossil fuels that's driving not just war but also global warming and ecological destruction. It's the Green Party that's calling for single-payer universal healthcare. It's the Green Party that's demanding that we raise the minimum wage to a living wage. The Green Party is providing genuine political leadership on a genuine progressive agenda. And the Green Party needs a presidential candidate, and I am honored to be that candidate.
Now, I'll also address your other question, which was, "What if progressives decide to register Green and vote for Kerry?" I say, "Listen, that's their right. I'm glad when anyone registers Green. I'm trying to convince people to vote for me and Pat LaMarche for President and Vice President, but if they decide that they're not going to, but are willing to vote Green down-ballot, or otherwise – and more profoundly – register Green, so that they can join the half million other people in this country who have joined the only political party that's building a progressive movement, then that's great! I'm encouraging people to think of it this way: When you register Green, you're actually voting every single day for peace, justice, democracy, and environmental protection.
G&G: What are the differences between your candidacy and Ralph Nader's? Why
are you both running?
David Cobb: Well, I don't know why Ralph is running. I want to be clear about that. He has the right to run as an independent; he has the right to run as a Reform Party candidate. But I don't understand why he's doing it. You know, I'm running in order grow and build the Green Party – not just in this election cycle, but for the future.
On November 3, the Green Party will still be here. Because candidates come and go. The Green Party is here to stay. Ralph Nader is running as a Reform Party candidate in some states, he's running as an independent in other states – so I don't understand what the goal of the Nader campaign is. I am committed to building the Green Party as a democratic organization that will ultimately and completely and thoroughly change this country.
So, on the issues, Ralph and I have remarkable similarities, but on our commitment to the long term future of the Green Party, I think that I've demonstrated that I have the staying power to grow and build the Green Party.
G&G: As there were in 2000, there are movements today to swap votes, whereby
voters in "safe states" agree to vote for David Cobb if someone in a "swing
state" will agree to vote for John Kerry. What do you think about
David Cobb: Well, I think it's a creative way to try to exploit the inherently undemocratic nature of the electoral college. So anybody who wants to participate in that, I actually totally understand why they would do it. I want to be clear: my unflinching desire is to have people vote for David Cobb and Pat LaMarche and Green Party candidates everywhere. But for people who live in the so-called swing states, who want to vote for the Green Party but are too terrified to do so, yet they are willing to engage in that vote-trading system that you've described, then I completely support people finding ways to take advantage of the undemocratic electoral college.
G&G: What would be the difference, in your opinion, on the ground in Iraq,
between a Kerry and Bush presidency? What would be the difference regarding
a military draft?
David Cobb: To tell you the truth, based on their comments at the debate a few nights ago, there would be no difference. Although, sadly, during the debate, John Kerry said that he was calling to add two more full divisions [laughs briefly] in Iraq, and double the number of Special Forces, and John Kerry called for sending U.S. troops into Fallujah. This is actually calling to escalate the war. John Kerry wants to fight it more brutally and more viciously. John Kerry used the word 'kill' at least five or six times in his presentation. I was stunned.
David Cobb speaks in Wisconsin
Let me describe now the David Cobb Green Party plan. If I'm elected November 2, I would:
- On November 3, issue a public apology to the people of Iraq for the immoral, unconstitutional, and unethical war that was waged upon them by the Bush-Cheney administration.
- Immediately rescind every one of the corporate crony contracts that Bush entered into with Halliburton Corporation, Bechtel Corporation, and the rest of the lot.
- Call for and convene a summit that would be comprised of members of the Iraqi civil society leadership. Not the puppet government, but the actual leadership on the ground of the Iraqi political leadership, and bring in also representatives from governments in the surrounding area for a true Peace Summit.
- That summit should come under the auspices of the United Nations, and our delegate would advice the summit that when I take office in January, the U.S. troops are going to be withdrawn.
And if there is a need for a safe space – for a genuine peacekeeping force to provide security during the time period when Iraq is rebuilt – then the peacekeeping forces should come from the Islamic world, and they should be troops who speak Arabic, so that we can de-escalate the clash of civilizations that the Bush-Cheney administration have created.
So you see, I've just described a five-point program to end the war in Iraq, bring the troops home, and move towards genuine global security. Neither John Kerry nor George Bush has such a plan.
Secondly, big picture issue, John Kerry and George Bush are both heading us towards a draft. The Green Party is adamantly opposed to the draft, and I'm encouraging people – if they do succeed in getting a draft – I encourage you to violate the law. Do not allow your sons or daughters or husbands or wives or yourself to become fodder for this military machine.
G&G: Wow. G&G has done a lot of work calling for a more open investigation into the
massacre perpetrated on Sept. 11, 2001. You've called for more investigation
too. Why do you feel that a real, full 9-11 inquiry is important, when there are
so many other pressing issues today?
David Cobb: Well, it is clear that the U.S. Government is lying to us. The so-called Commission on 9-11 is obviously engaged in coverup. There are far too many questions left unanswered, and I join with the literally millions of other Americans who are demanding that a full and unbiased investigation be conducted so that we can find out who knew what and when, and what actually happened. Sadly, I do not trust the commission's report. I think that it is woefully inadequate and incomplete, and I want to know the truth, just like the rest of America does. I would encourage people to check out www.911truth.org for a list of the very serious questions that have been left unanswered.
If there's a draft, I'm encouraging people to violate the law. Do not allow your sons or daughters or husbands or wives or yourself to become fodder for this military machine.
G&G: You were interviewed in the liberal Z Magazine's September issue. That
issue also contained an interview with Chip Berlet in which he essentially
asserted that all conspiracy theories are a priori false – evidently even those
about Iran-Contra and Watergate. What do you think about this?
David Cobb: Well, look, it is absurd to assert that all conspiracies are a priori false. That's just absurd. Only falsehood is a priori false. And the truth is the truth. We don't know what happened on September 11. And we certainly know that we were lied to during the Iran-Contra investigations. It's quite obvious that we've been lied to repeatedly in this country – from the Gulf of Tonkin to the Spanish-American War and the explosion of the U.S. Battleship Maine – I mean the number of lies that have been perpetrated by the U.S. Government is legion. So...yeah.
G&G: Yeah. The planet certainly seems to be entering a critical time. The end of oil
and a serious deterioration of our natural environment seem to be rapidly
approaching today – to say nothing of further war and corporate
globalization. How do you think, ultimately, the planet should be governed
during the next century?
David Cobb: Ultimately the planet needs to be governed by the people. And I mean this very seriously, because today nation-states are not even ruled by the people. The reality is that the entire planet is being completely ruled and governed by a very small number of unelected, unaccountable corporate CEOs. They are literally making fundamental public policy decisions in this country and throughout the world.
So I want to be part of a movement that democratizes not just this country, but literally the world. People on the ground should be making the decisions that affect their lives on a day-to-day basis. I think that we are seeing a movement – a genuine democratization movement – not only in this country, but throughout the world. Whether it's the Zapatistas, whether it's Vaclev Havel and the velvet revolution, whether it's People Power out of the Philippines, something profound is happening and it's happening in this country too.
The planet needs to be governed by the people...I want to be part of a movement that democratizes not just this country but literally the entire world.
And I think the Green Party is poised to be the electoral arm for the growing movement for peace, justice, ecology, and real democracy. And by democracy, we mean "The People Rule," and that's the direction I believe that we're actually heading in.
Remember this, Tony, the Green Party will tell the truth.
We will always tell the truth. And that includes telling the truth about the looming ecological catastrophe, and telling the truth about the racist, sexist society that we live in. But we'll also tell the truth about the incredible solutions that exist – if only we have the political will to implement them. The corporate-controlled Democratic and Republican parties are not implementing the solutions that exist, because corporate cash is like a cancer that's metastasized within those bodies. There are so many good rank-and-file Democrats who are hijacked by the two-party system, and that's why we're calling for electoral reform – like Proportional Representation and Instant Runoff Voting – to create the space necessary to move towards genuine democracy.
G&G: What do you feel, if anything, are the weaknesses of your candidacy?
David Cobb: Well, I think the biggest weakness is the fact that the corporate media is completely ignoring us, even though the Green Party is getting larger, stronger, and better organized. Consider this: in 1996, there were ten organized state Green Parties in the entire country, only five with a ballot line, and there were 40 elected Green officeholders. In 2000, brick-by-brick, we had grown to 21 organized state Green Parties, ten of them had a guaranteed ballot line, and there were 87 elected Green officeholders. And of course in 2000 we know that George Bush stole an election, and the Democrats, rather than fighting to secure the election that they won, instead spent the entire time blaming the Green Party and Ralph Nader and accusing us of being spoilers. In that incredibly hostile climate, the Green Party grew to 44 organized state Green Parties. We have today 23 guaranteed ballot lines. And there are 207 elected Green officeholders.
So, against all odds, the Green Party is getting larger, stronger, and better organized. And yet the corporate media is ignoring us, or attempting to marginalize and ridicule us every chance we get.
G&G: Is there one specific issue that you care deepest about – something that
keeps you up at night?
David Cobb: All of the issues are interrelated. But for me, the war in Iraq, its ties to the looming "Peak Oil" crisis that we face, the crisis that is going to be coming as a result, and the global warming issue – how those are all intimately tied together – make me terrified, frankly. It also makes me incredibly hopeful when I see how many people are actively organizing in resistance to this transnational corporate empire. How many people are organizing in anti-corporate-globalization, pro-global-justice movements. You know, so I'm both terrified and inspired at the same time.
G&G: Thank you so much for talking with me, David. And thank you so much for running.
David Cobb: You're very welcome. Thank you for what you're doing and for your support.
More information on David Cobb and the Green Party's Presidential Campaign is at www.votecobb.org
Interview conducted by Tony Brasunas
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