BTL: Green Party Candidate On Issues Majors Ignore
Between the Lines Q&A
A weekly column featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release Nov. 1, 2004
Interview with David Cobb, Green Party presidential candidate, conducted by Melinda Tuhus
Before John Kerry and George Bush held their third presidential debate, the Green Party published its list of a dozen issues and views it said had been censored from the debates by the two major candidates. Included on the list were positions advocating an end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, criticism of attacks on civil liberties under the Patriot Act, rethinking the failed war on drugs, reversing the trend toward concentration of media ownership, support for a single-payer health care program and more. The Greens charged that these issues and points of view were not heard in the debates because the Republican and Democratic candidates are on the same side, in stark contrast to positions advocated by the Green Party.
David Cobb, an attorney from Texas won the Green Party presidential nomination after a hotly contested race with Ralph Nader who had sought the party's endorsement. Regarding the war in Iraq, Cobb says that if elected, he would immediately apologize to the Iraqi people for the war and announce the withdrawal of U.S. troops. He would ask the United Nations to convene a pan-Arabic peace summit, inviting the civil society leadership of Iraq to attend -- not the government installed by President Bush -- to decide if they want a peacekeeping force under U.N. auspices. Lastly, Cobb says he would direct the billions of dollars in re-construction funds currently going to U.S. contractors to Iraqi companies and workers instead.
Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with David Cobb about some of the other issues he says have been neglected in the 2004 presidential campaign.
David Cobb: Intimately linked to the war in Iraq, of course, is the issue of the U.S.’ addiction to oil as an energy source, because, let’s face it, the war in Iraq was about oil, and the overwhelming majority of Americans know it, and Bush and Kerry never talk about it because, again, they are lying to the American people. So, if we want to actually move toward genuine global security, we must wean ourselves off the addiction to oil that’s driving not only the war, but also global warming and environmental destruction. And the reality is that there are alternative energy sources available right now -- solar power, wind power, geothermal power, tidal power -- that are not being implemented because we the people don’t control energy policy in this country. Science and technology is not the problem. The problem is that un-elected and unaccountable corporate CEO’s have hijacked not only our government, but our institutions and our culture. The Green Party is building a movement in order to move toward sustainable alternative energy sources. And it doesn’t just stop with production of energy, but the Green Party is also calling for a massive infrastructure development for an intra-state train system and an inner city mass trolley system to return to the days of genuine mass transit in this country before General Motors and Firestone and all the rest of the automobile corporations and oil corporations destroyed mass transit in this country. Again, solutions exist, but they’re not being applied because we the people don’t control our government, which is another reason why voters should vote Green to build a movement to take our country back from these corporate fatcats who have hijacked it.
Between The Lines: Do you see any difference between Kerry and Bush on energy policy?
David Cobb: There’s a difference between Bush and Kerry on energy policy, but not enough of a difference. But there are differences. I say it this way: John Kerry is a corporatist militarist who voted for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He voted for No Child Left Behind, which is devastating public schools in this country. He voted for NAFTA, which is destroying both our wages and environmental protections in this country. John Kerry voted for the Patriot Act. John Kerry opposes single-payer universal health care, and he opposes raising the minimum wage to a living wage. However, as bad as I think John Kerry is, I will acknowledge that George Bush is qualitatively worse. Bush is a genuine threat to the planet; he and his neo-conservative cabal are moving this country ever more swiftly in exactly the wrong direction. To state it simply, I would say John Kerry is bad, George Bush is much worse, and the American people deserve and desperately need much, much better, and that’s where the Green Party comes in.
Between The Lines: Health care is a huge issue in this campaign. How does the Green Party’s position differ from the two major parties?
David Cobb: It’s true that Kerry and Bush have different plans, but they’re both plans predicated on leaving health care in the hands of the pharmaceutical corporations and the insurance corporations, so that they ultimately have final decision on who actually gets health care in this country. The Green Party’s plan is fundamentally different. We say that health care should not be a commodity that’s bought and paid for at a profit, the way Bush and Kerry say. The Green Party says health care should be a fundamental human right, and that everyone should have access to health care. And the only way to make that happen is for us to develop a universal, single-payer health care system where everybody has access to health care; we eliminate the pharmaceutical corporations and the health insurance corporations; we allow individuals to choose their own doctors, and we ensure that doctors only have one form to submit for payment and that the payment always comes from one payer -- the national government -- so that costs come down. Everyone who’s looked at this model fairly and objectively has said and acknowledged that such a system actually saves money.
Between The Lines: Have you had the opportunity to talk to people who aren’t already converted, and do they agree with you when they hear what you have to say?
David Cobb: You know, I can’t tell you the number of people who have contacted our campaign after hearing us on PBS or CNN or C-SPAN, who say, you know, I never heard of the Green Party or I didn’t know about the Green Party, but y’all make sense. You’re telling the truth about the problems that face this country, and you’ve got simple solutions to all of them, and so I’m going to be looking into the Green Party more. It’s important to remember this: the reason the Green Party is not more successful is not because of our positions -- in fact, a majority of Americans already agree with most of our positions. The problem is a voting system that forces Americans to vote against what they hate rather than for what they actually want. You know, what others call “spoiling,” Greens call participating. We’re going to continue to exercise our democratic right to participate in elections. And if anybody really believes that our participation is a problem, then the solution to that problem can’t be to restrict the Green Party voice or to forbid voter choice. We need more voices and choices. The solution is to change our voting system to instant run-off voting, where voters are empowered to rank-order their choices. It’s as easy as 1-2-3, because voters would be able to say, my first preference is, my second preference is, my third preference is. It would eliminate the spoiler effect, eliminate the wasted vote phenomenon, and guarantee we have a majority winner, and do it with only one election. It would increase the voting participation rate, it would open up the political discourse, and we could begin the process of finding out where Americans really stand.
For more information, call his campaign toll free at 1-866-41-GREEN or visit his website at http://www.votecobb.org
Melinda Tuhus is a producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 35 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at http://www.btlonline.org. This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending Nov. 5, 2004. This Between The Lines Q&A was compiled by Melinda Tuhus and Anna Manzo.
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