Saturday afternoon: Even though I didn’t vote with the pro-Nader folks, I did attend a “Greens for Nader” confab that took place immediately after Cobb accepted the nomination.
The energy in the room was weird, to say the least. These Greens were going to continue working for Nader even though he didn’t get the endorsement of the Green Party. Almost as soon as I arrived, a Cobb supporter started bellowing, “What happened to unity?” He was very loud; he almost seemed drunk, though I don’t think he was. The Nader supporters immediately responded: “Why didn’t you support our unity proposal?” — that is, the dual endorsement proposed by Camejo.
One Nader guy got the Cobb guy to quiet down, and was talking to him earnestly, when some other people decided Cobb supporters had no place in this meeting. They approached the Cobb guy and asked him to leave. The Nader guy who was already talking to him got agitated: “Leave him alone! I don’t like people acting like a mob! What happend to free speech? Don’t touch me!” When the others told him to leave too, he got angrier: “I’m a Nader supporter!”
This mess was resolved in relatively short order, and the Cobb guy joined the long line of people who were each allotted one minute to speak.
A French-Canadian woman at the head of the line spoke her piece, and said that Nader and Camejo had given her a “political orgasm.” A few more also got to speak, then the group deferred to Nader’s vice-presidential running mate, Peter Camejo.
I was worried that Camejo might denounce Cobb or question the legitimacy of the nominating process. He didn’t, at least not directly. But he did make several dark allusions and hints. “I could say some things, but that would make people angry.” He referred to “hanky-panky” in the process, but he did not elaborate, stressing that now was not the time for that.
It was, Camejo noted, a “peculiar” situation. After all, if Cobb had lost the nomination, that campaign would have ended; but since Nader was running as an independent, his candidacy would continue. This was a disappointing day, but it was not a disaster. Instead, it was a “speed bump,” and the thing to do was to “analyze that bump.” In part, it revealed a new development, that “political currents” now existed in the party. Greens embrace diversity in many forms, and now we need to start thinking about how to embrace political diversity, too.
Mainly Camejo spoke against Kerry and the Democrats. The crowd applauded him again and again.
I looked across the room at Art and Robert, my fellow delegates, firmly in the Nader camp. Would they leave the party? Would we still be friends when we got back to New Orleans? What of the hundreds of other Nader delegates, and the thousands of pro-Nader Greens across the country? Would they accept and respect the democratic process, however flawed, that led to the Cobb nomination, or would they split from the group? Clearly, there’s a rift here. How deep is it?