Saturday afternoon: We walked a few blocks to a shop that sold Fair Trade coffee. We got some sandwiches. We ate. And we tried to figure out what would happen next.
The field would be narrowed in the second round of voting. Only candidates who had submitted a letter of intent, stating that they would accept the nomination, would remain in the running. Cobb was the only person known to have submitted such a letter. Nader would not be an option. Of course, the “no nominee” option would be there, and if “no nominee” prevailed, we would have the option to endorse a candidate, including Nader, which would be decided via instant runoff voting.
I ran into Kent Mesplay outside the coffee shop, and he told me he had submitted a letter and was still in the running. The joke began circulating that Mesplay was a “spoiler.” I emphasize that this was said in jest!
When we got back to the floor, Matt announced the field had narrowed to four options: David Cobb, No Nominee, Kent Mesplay, and JoAnne Bier Beeman.
We were now free to vote our consciences, as virtually all delegates were “released” after the first round.
Cammie offered Dan a backrub if he’d vote for Cobb.
Robert asked the pro-Cobb people in our delegation to make one last pitch for why he should vote for Cobb. Then Robert gave us a very good pitch on why we should support Nader.
Robert took Jason and Dan and me off the floor to talk briefly with Jason West, the young mayor of New Paltz, New York. He’s something of a hero within the Party because he started performing marriages for people who happened to be of the same sex. He was also named one of the “50 Hottest Bachelors” by People magazine. (Hm, come to think of it, didn’t the Bay Guardian name Matt Gonzalez one of the sexiest people in the Bay Area?) Jason to pitched the dual endorsement idea to us.
I was starting to find dual endorsement somewhat appealing, but the road to getting there was problematic. We would have to vote for “No Nominee” now, with no assurance that a dual endorsement would actually carry the day.
With substantial misgivings, I wrote “David Cobb” on my ballot. I almost wrote “No Nominee.” But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Was I making a mistake? Was I thinking to much about my party and not enough about my country? I couldn’t get past my same simple-minded objections: Nader could have sought the nomination, but he didn’t. In fact, I realized, I hadn’t really changed my mind since January, when Nader announced he would run as an independent. Was I being small-minded, petty? I really like David Cobb. But was I really voting for him, or was I voting against Nader? I’m not trying to be coy with all these questions; they were bouncing around in my head at the time, and I still don’t know what to think.
The second round of voting was much more matter-of-fact and less flamboyant than the first.
When Minnesota turned in a large Cobb vote, Art remarked, almost under his breath, “I thought Minnesota would have been more left.” This offhand comment really got my attention. I felt that it encapsulated the divisions that had emerged in the run-up to this moment. Was this really a battle between leftists and moderates within the Green Party? I honestly don’t know.
Our delegation was split: five votes for No Nominee, four for Cobb.
Soon the votes were in. Final tally:
No Nominee 308
Thus, Cobb secured the nomination. There was plenty of cheering and jubilation amongst the Cobb camp. The Nader camp was pretty dejected.
Cobb took the stage as “Fortunate Son” blared. He began by saying that “as a white person, I have to acknowledge that white privilege exists, and male privilege exists,” and with that he introduced his running mate, Pat LaMarche. She spoke briefly. Sadly, all I can remember was her joke about blow-drying her hair for the first time in years. Then Cobb gave his speech, leading off with how Nader had more influence on him than any human being outside his family.
All I could think was how odd it felt to vote for a winner. I’m used to voting for righteous losers, but here was the guy I voted for doing a victory dance. That felt funny and not entirely good. I’m experiencing voter’s remorse! It kind of makes me wish I’d voted for Kent Mesplay. However, I take some consolation in knowing that, in four months, Cobb will lose the big race, and I can continue to gripe about whoever wins.
I think the party made the right decision, but time will tell if Cobb can make good on his promise to help local Green parties and candidates, given his limited resources and relatively low profile.
This write-up of mine is pretty lame, but I hope it at least serves as an accurate record of one person’s experience. Here are two much better articles that reflect on what happened in Milwaukee from two very different perspectives:
See also: The aftermath.