Green Party candidate speaks at Allen

Carol Matteucci

By Nate Sandstrom

Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb told a green-clad audience Monday night that his party is growing despite stiff opposition from Democrats, Republicans and corporate-controlled media. The group was packed into Allen Hall’s main lounge to hear the candidate speak.

Cobb said that despite being marginalized or ignored by corporate media, the Green Party has flourished in recent years. The party had 40 elected officials in 1996 and now holds 212 elected positions in 27 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Green Party Web site.

The audience cheered as Cobb delivered biting criticism of Democrats and Republicans in a fiery Texas twang.

Cobb said the Green Party was “the only truly progressive party” running on issues like an immediate end to the war in Iraq, seeking alternative fuels and transportation systems, supporting small businesses and implementing a “living wage,” a universal single-payer health care program and addressing inequities in funding between school districts.

“We desperately need more voices and more choices,” he said.

Cobb said he thought real systemic change can only be brought about by third parties. Movements like the abolition of slavery, women’s right to vote and the 40-hour work week are policies that were brought about by third parties, he said.

“People vote against who they hate instead of (for) who they want,” Cobb said.

The reason for low voter turnout is not apathy, but cynicism, Cobb said. He referred to Democrats and Republicans as “corporate parties” and criticized the current campaign system as “legalized bribery.”

Cobb was general counsel for the Green Party National Committee before he declared his candidacy for Texas attorney general in 2002. He also lectures and facilitates a series of seminars across the country titled “Rethinking Corporations/Rethinking Democracy,” which advocates citizens holding corporations accountable to the communities they operate in.

“Unelected and unaccountable corporate CEOs are making public policy in America,” Cobb said.

Cobb also appeared in The Corporation, a film released this summer that examines the history and role of corporations in society.

He is not on the ballot in Illinois, but encouraged people to write in his name when they vote. Cobb also said his presidential campaign can help local candidates.

“In Urbana, there are solid candidates running solid campaigns,” he said.

There are three Green Party candidates running for Champaign County Board. Before Cobb’s speech, they criticized the current board as unproductive and partisan.

“We’re going to start to build the Green Party (locally),” said Ken Urban, one of the party’s candidates for the board.

Jennifer Walling, Campus Green outreach coordinator and president of Students for Cobb, has joined with other Green Party students at the University to promote social justice activities around campus. Last year they worked to create a citizen police review group and have planned a “socially responsible” career fair for Feb. 8.

Walling said they were working with a list of nearly 100 companies who reflect the party’s four pillars: social justice, ecological wisdom, grassroots democracy and nonviolence.

“Halliburton and Monsanto have been here for career days,” she said. “We’re trying to show students where they can work for (socially responsible) corporations.”

Champaign resident Mike Snider came out to see Cobb speak. Snider said he used to vote for Democrats, but has voted for Green Party candidates in the last two elections. Snider said he was discouraged that Reform Party candidate Ralph Nader and Cobb were not allowed onto the Illinois ballot.

“The stranglehold on democracy must end,” Snider said.