April 2, 2017
Greener on the Other Side: Interview with David Cobb
By Joan Brunwasser
I realized that all systemic, transformational change was always spearheaded by alternative political parties– the abolition of slavery, women getting the right to vote, the creation of the Social Security, pure food and drug laws, ending child labor, the 40 hour work week, direct election of the US Senate. I realized that if we were going to make systemic change, it would only come if we built an alternative political party.
My guest today is David Cobb, 2004 Green Party presidential candidate, campaign manager for Jill Stein’s Green Party 2016 presidential candidacy and co-founder of Move to Amend.
Joan Brunwasser: Welcome to OpEdNews, David. Some of our readers may not be familiar with you or the Green Party. Before we jump in, let’s get some background out of the way. In the ’80s, you were an active member of the Democratic Party. What caused your subsequent break with the Dems?
David Cobb: I was born in rural poverty in Texas, and worked as a shrimper, construction worker and in food service putting myself through college. I share that to underscore that my analysis around economic injustice is a result of lived experience. But I had to work hard to unlearn what society taught me about race, gender and sexual orientation.
I got my start in electoral politics working on Jesse Jackson’s campaigns in ’84 and ’88, and Jerry Brown’s in ’92. Those experiences taught me that the Democratic Party presidential primary is where progressive politics goes to die. Because all the energy, enthusiasm and money is ultimately absorbed into the Wall Street funded and corporate controlled Democratic Party machine.
As I studied history, I realized that all systemic, transformational change was always spearheaded by alternative political parties– the abolition of slavery, women getting the right to vote, the creation of the Social Security, pure food and drug laws, ending child labor, the 40 hour work week, the direct election of the US Senate. I realized that if we were going to make systemic change, it would only come if we built an alternative political party.
Which is to say, my Green Party membership is based on cold, calculated analysis about what I think it will take to WIN. With respect, I think it is naive for progressives to stay in the Democratic Party where they are barely tolerated. As Albert Einstein put it: “Doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results is the definition of insanity.”
JB: Let’s go back to your claim about change being fueled by alternative political parties. I’ll bet that most of our readers, including me, did not know that. It’s a far cry from the “spoiler” argument often levied against third parties. Tell us more; time for a little history lesson.
DC: The Green Party understands how power operates and the critical role that serious, credible electoral campaigns have always played. Systemic change requires both social movements and campaigns for elected office.
The movements already exist–Black Lives Matter, Occupy Wall Street, the climate justice movement, Standing Rock, Move To Amend, the Fight for $15, the push for universal healthcare, the call to end the school-to-prison pipeline, and many more. Every day, these movements are larger, stronger and better organized.
But social movements alone are not enough, they must be accompanied by an electoral expression at the ballot box in order to codify their demands into law. In the mid-1800s, the Liberty Party , Free Soil Party and the newly formed Republican Partybrought an anti-slavery agenda to the ballot box. Later, the Equal Rights Partyand Socialist Party of Americachampioned women’s suffrage. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the SocialistPartyand progressive parties like the People’s Party, the 1912 Progressive / Bull Moose Party (led by Teddy Roosevelt) and the 1924 Progressive Party (led by Fighting Bob LaFollette), advanced a range of causes, among them Social Security, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, food and drug regulations, the 8-hour workday, ending child labor and the direct election of U.S. senators.
The very fabric of what we consider the bare minimum for a just and compassionate society was woven thread by thread, issue by issue, campaign by campaign by alternative political parties. So if we want to win a new world, we must have the courage of those earlier movements.
JB: Hmmm; you’ve given me lots to chew on. How does the Green Party fit within that historical context? Which issues has the Green Party been pushing and how would we know? The corporate media has continually either ignored, minimized or distorted your positions.
DC: The corporate media ignores the Green Party because we represent an unapologetic, principled challenge to the corporate -controlled Democratic Party. When they are forced to cover us, they attempt to marginalize us. But we continue to grow, and are getting larger, stronger and better organized every election cycle. Here are some concrete examples of the Green Party advocating for transformational policy…
The Green Party has been a champion of same-sex marriage, and it was part of our Platform in 1996. In 2004, Green Party Mayor Jason West used his office to marry same sex couples. When the state instructed him to stop, he refused and continued to marry people and was arrested for his principled conduct as an elected official .
Compare that to Bill Clinton and the Democratic Party leadership that passed the obnoxious “Defense of Marriage Act” that literally codified same-sex couples as second class citizens. Compare that to Hillary who publicly stated in 2004 (when Mayor West was marrying gay people) that “the fundamental bedrock principle that marriage exists between a man and a woman, going back into the midst of history as one of the founding, foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principal role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society into which they are to become adults.” Let’s just do a quick survey of Green Party positions, and I challenge your readers to ask themselves where the Democratic Party leadership stands on them:
Green New Deal: Create millions of jobs by transitioning to 100 percent clean renewable energy and investing in public transit, sustainable agriculture and conservation.
Racial justice now: End police brutality and mass incarceration. Create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to understand and eliminate the legacy of slavery that permeates our society. Create community policing by establishing police review boards and independently investigating all cases of death in police custody.
Freedom and equality: Expand women’s rights, protect LGBTQIA+ people from discrimination, defend indigenous rights and lands and create a welcoming path to citizenship for immigrants. Protect the free internet, legalize marijuana/hemp and treat substance abuse as a public health problem, not a criminal problem.
Meaningful work as a right: Create living-wage jobs for every American who needs work, replacing unemployment offices with employment offices. Advance workers’ rights to form unions, achieve workplace democracy and keep a fair share of the wealth they create.
End poverty: Guarantee economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing and utilities, with effective anti-poverty programs to ensure every American a life of dignity.
Healthcare as a right: “Medicare For All” as a single-payer public health program to provide everyone with quality healthcare.
Education as a right: Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude. Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university. End high stakes testing and public school privatization.
A just economy: Set a $15/hour federal minimum wage. Break up “too-big-to-fail” banks and democratize the Federal Reserve. Reject gentrification as a model of economic development. Support development of both worker and community cooperatives, and small businesses. Create democratically run public banks and utilities. Replace corporate trade agreements with fair trade agreements.
Protect Mother Earth: Lead on a global treaty to halt climate change. End destructive energy extraction: fracking, tar sands, offshore drilling, oil trains, mountaintop removal and uranium mines. Label GMOs, and put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.
Justice for all: Terminate unconstitutional surveillance and unwarranted spying, end persecution of government and media whistleblowers, close Guantanamo, and repeal indefinite detention without charge or trial.
Peace and human rights: Establish a foreign policy based on diplomacy, international law and human rights. End the wars and drone attacks, cut military spending by at least 50 percent and close the 700-plus foreign military bases that are turning our republic into a bankrupt empire. Stop U.S. support and arms sales to human rights abusers, and lead on global nuclear disarmament.
Empower the people: Abolish corporate personhood. Protect voters’ rights by establishing a constitutional right to vote. Enact electoral reforms that break the big money stranglehold and create truly representative democracy: public campaign financing, ranked-choice voting, proportional representation and open debates.
JB: That’s quite a list! Imagine what our country could look like. Let’s take a break here. Tomorrow, we’ll continue this interview and talk about abolishing corporate personhood, Move to Amend and more. Stay tuned!
David’s FB page [David Keith Cobb]
Green Party website
Submitters Website: http://www.opednews.com/author/author79.html
Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of transparency and the ability to accurately check and authenticate the vote cast, these systems can alter election results and therefore are simply antithetical to democratic principles and functioning. Since the pivotal 2004 Presidential election, Joan has come to see the connection between a broken election system, a dysfunctional, corporate media and a total lack of campaign finance reform. This has led her to enlarge the parameters of her writing to include interviews with whistle-blowers and articulate others who give a view quite different from that presented by the mainstream media. She also turns the spotlight on activists and ordinary folks who are striving to make a difference, to clean up and improve their corner of the world. By focusing on these intrepid individuals, she gives hope and inspiration to those who might otherwise be turned off and alienated. She also interviews people in the arts in all their variations – authors, journalists, filmmakers, actors, playwrights, and artists. Why? The bottom line: without art and inspiration, we lose one of the best parts of ourselves. And we’re all in this together. If Joan can keep even one of her fellow citizens going another day, she considers her job well done. When Joan hit one million page views, OEN Managing Editor, Meryl Ann Butler interviewed her, turning interviewer briefly into interviewee. Read the interview here.
While the news is often quite depressing, Joan nevertheless strives to maintain her mantra: “Grab life now in an exuberant embrace!” Joan has been Election Integrity Editor for OpEdNews since December, 2005. Her articles also appear at Huffington Post, RepublicMedia.TV and Scoop.co.nz.