David Cobb, 41, lawyer and community organizer, is the Green Party’s presidential nominee. He lives in Eureka, California, and works for Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (www.DUHC.org).
Q: The peg for this piece is: What could Democrats learn from the Green Party? I’m not talking about electoral strategy, I’m talking substance.
I understand. I do want to let you know up front that I think the Democratic Party leadership is going to be unable to learn anything from the Green Party–bluntly–because our biggest message is a reaction to and rejection of the corporate takeover of our government, our society, our culture and our governing institutions. Now there are plenty of progressive Democrats who already know that lesson and are in agreement with that.
But I think what’s really driving the extraordinary and untold story of the growth of the Green Party is that ordinary citizens have had it–that we realize unelected, unaccountable CEOs are making the fundamental public policy decisions in this country, that we don’t have a functioning democracy and we’re trying to do something about it.
Q: Were you once a Democrat? Did you call yourself a Democrat?
I was. I will admit that I got my start in electoral politics as a Democrat. Actually I got my start working on apartheid politics while a student at the University of Houston. I’m proud of the fact that myself and so many other Greens understand that politics is not merely about elections. It can be something much deeper, anytime you are trying to have an impact on public policy.
I got my start in electoral politics while a student at the University of Houston as a key organizer for Jesse Jackson’s campaign for President. I worked on Jesse Jackson’s campaign in 1988, then I worked on Jerry Brown’s campaign for the Democratic nomination in 1992.
That is actually the year I became so disgusted by the corporate money and realized the kind of progressive politics I wanted to do and bring forward really couldn’t be done by the Democratic Party because the corporate money was like a cancer that had metastasized within that body. Even though there were great progressive Democrats, ultimately that money ruled the day. It was in 1996 that I got involved in the Green Party.
Q: Tell me about the campaign. Is it fun?
Well, I find it exhilarating, because I have the distinct pleasure of traveling around the country and meeting with other people–ordinary people–trying to do something extraordinary, ordinary people rolling up their sleeves to try to create an actual progressive political party that will put people’s needs before corporate greed. That’s kind of phenomenal to think folks have the audacity to create an alternative political party in a system where we’re excluded from the debates, where the corporate media either completely ignore us or marginalize and ridicule our efforts. And we’re operating in a system where people really have to feel they must vote against what they hate rather than for what they want.