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Commentary :: DNC
An Open Letter to Progressives: Vote Kerry and Cobb
24 Jul 2004
There is no greater political imperative this year than to retire the Bush regime, one of the most dangerous and extremist in U.S. history. As people dedicated to peace, economic justice, equality, sustainability and constitutional freedoms, we are committed to defeating Bush.
The only candidate who can win instead of Bush in November is John Kerry. We want Kerry to replace Bush, because a Kerry administration would be less dangerous in many crucial areas, including militarism, civil liberties, civil rights, judicial appointments, reproductive rights and environmental protection.

But while helping Kerry-Edwards defeat Bush-Cheney, we don't want to endorse Kerry positions that are an insult to various causes we support, including movements for global justice and peace that have burgeoned in recent years. Indeed, we want to communicate to Kerry and the world that we oppose many of his policies, including some that are barely distinguishable from Bush policies.

Accordingly, we encourage progressives to organize and vote strategically this year.

In "swing states," where few percentage points separate Bush and Kerry, we encourage activists to mobilize voters behind Kerry. (A frequently updated list of swing states is posted at

In "safe states" (and Washington, D.C.), so overwhelmingly pro-Bush or pro-Kerry that we can be confident of who will win in November, we encourage activists to mobilize voters behind Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb.

In all states, we encourage activists to engage in election-year vigilance to ensure that all votes count, especially those of racial minorities -- and to advocate for instant runoff voting and other reforms so that voters in future elections can support the candidate they most believe in without risk of electing the candidate they most oppose.
David Cobb has earned our endorsement in safe states by deftly steering the Green Party toward a nuanced strategy dedicated to ousting Bush, while seeking to grow a grassroots party that stands unapologetically for peace, racial and social justice, economic democracy, civil liberties and genuine ecology. The Green Party gives political voice to movements that challenge Bush's Iraq policy and resist trade arrangements that trample on workers' rights, human rights and the environment.

Despite a Democratic Party base that is increasingly progressive, anti-NAFTA/WTO and anti-war, John Kerry has lost the strong, brave voice he had as a young man who challenged the Vietnam War and now offers a faint echo of too many Bush policies -- from Iraq and military spending to the global trade regime and corporate coddling (e.g. Kerry's plan to reduce corporate taxes).

We are disappointed that, four years after the Florida disaster, Kerry and leading Democrats (with exceptions such as Dennis Kucinich, Jesse Jackson Jr. and Howard Dean) do not promote common-sense electoral reforms like instant runoff voting that would once and for all eliminate the "spoiler" risk that deforms U.S. elections.

With our electoral system yet to be fixed, we are left this year with the improvised solution of endorsing one candidate in some states and another candidate in other states. This dual-endorsement solution is preferable to endorsing either a candidate with important positions we oppose or a solidly progressive candidate whose votes in swing states could help Bush get four more years.

In this crucial election year, we encourage progressives to work tirelessly to vote Bush out -- as we build grassroots networks and coalitions to hold the Kerry administration accountable to the progressive values and policies shared by most Americans.

Medea Benjamin
Peter Coyote
John Eder
Daniel Ellsberg
Angela Gilliam
Kevin Gray
Tom Hayden
Elizabeth Horton Sheff
Rabbi Michael Lerner
Robert McChesney
Norman Solomon

(Signers endorse this statement as individuals, not as representatives of any groups.)

Medea Benjamin (Code Pink, Global Exchange); Peter Coyote (actor); John Eder (Maine state legislator/Green Party); Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers whistleblower); Angela Gilliam (professor/feminist scholar); Kevin Gray (Jackson '88/Sharpton '04); Tom Hayden (former California State Senator/activist); Elizabeth Horton Sheff (Hartford City Council/Green Party); Rabbi Michael Lerner (Tikkun); Robert McChesney (communications professor/author); Norman Solomon (author/columnist)

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Re: An Open Letter to Progressives: Vote Kerry and Cobb
24 Jul 2004
John Kerry:

* Opposes gay marriage
* Voted FOR the USA PATRIOT act
* Voted FOR giving George Bush authorization to use military force against Iraq
* Has never publicly condemned the illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq

Supporting Democratic party candidates is a dead end. The Democratic party truly is the graveyard of all great social movements in the United States. It is the place where once thriving movements go to die.

What does the organized labor movement have to show for after 50 years of support for Democratic party candidates?

In the 1940's and 1950's, when socialist and communist currents within organized labor where purged out of it, 38% of the U.S. labor force was unionized.

Today, after 50 years of organized labor support for the Democrats, less than 10% of the U.S. labor force is unionized.

The Democrats have not even been able/willing to overturn anti-labor legislation like the Taft-Hartley act (passed in 1947).

With friends like the Democrats, who needs enemies?
What's "Progressive" About Voting For Pro-War Kerry?
25 Jul 2004
Authentic anti-war progressives don't need politically and morally opportunistic Democratic Party loyalists, masquerading as "progressives", to try to manipulate them into voting against independent anti-war candidates such as Ralph Nader. There's also nothing "progressive" about voting for a candidate like Kerry who supports the Sharon regime's policy of constructing a land-grabbing, apartheid wall in the West Bank, in violation of international law.
Re: An Open Letter to Progressives: Vote Kerry and Cobb
25 Jul 2004
You shall know them by the company they keep...

Get this.

Global Exchange diva Media Benjamin will inside the Convention on July hobnobing for 'Code Pink during a DNC related extravaganza entitled " Revolutionary Women of 2004, - featuring Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (CA) Secretary Madeleine Albright, Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, Governor Jennifer M. Granholm (MI), Andrea Cabral, Suffolk County Sheriff (MA)

Check out their website at
Re: An Open Letter to Progressives: Vote Kerry and Cobb
25 Jul 2004
I support and endorse the David Cobb/ Pat LaMarche campaign. I despise and am nauseated by the John Kerry/ John Edwards campaign, and am astonished to see progressives promoting it.

John Kerry supports the destabilization of the Chavez administration, reactivation of the draft,
ever more troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the chemical destruction of Columbian farm land, ever more stringent enforcement of an undeniably racist Drug War, the revocation of equal marriage rights in Massachusetts, and apartheid in Israel.
John Kerry voted to prevent people with HIV from immigrating to the US, he voted for both war with Iraq and Afghanistan, and he refuses to support only pro-choice judicial appointments. We must never forget the racist comments he made in 1992 discussing affirmative action, and we must never forgive his desire to STRENGTHEN the Patriot Act.

Medea, John, Elizabeth, Norman- I respect them all as fellow Greens, but they should take it from a Green-Rainbow Party member who LIVES in this state: John Kerry does indeed indubitably DIFFER from the Shrub in many respects, but it is impossible to say which of these two very different corporate owned and controlled candidates is truly the "worst evil."
Re: An Open Letter to Progressives: Vote Kerry and Cobb
25 Jul 2004
This is a dumb strategy from rich liberals who won't feel the wrath of the nightmares that a Kerry administration will be.
Re: An Open Letter to Progressives: Vote Kerry and Cobb
25 Jul 2004
Screw Kerry!
A Kerry administration will achieve only one thing...the emasculating of America. Keep Bush in office!!
RE: The only candidate who can win instead of Bush in November is John Kerry.
25 Jul 2004
Are the folks that signed this letter really all that gullible? Just how the hell did Kerry win all the primaries if nobody even knows him, this convention is his chance 'for america to get to know him'. All those primary voters didn't know Kerry, but they just figured the Iowa democrats must've known something, so they just followed along?

If kerry is the only one that can beat bush, why is it still neck and neck? Anyone with a clue should be shredding bush, by taking the truth to the American people- and kerry is not exposing the complete sham, it's more like he's covering for his ol boner buddy.

The majority of the people are against the war and the patriot act- why should we support a guy that voted for the war- both kerry and edwards convinced other dem senators to vote for the war. When asked about the evidence kerry said, "that's what we were told."

listen to this debate breakdown and see if you can spot the real american from the posers
See also:
A Reply to Norman Solomon & Medea Benjamin
29 Jul 2004
Believing in a Green Resistance -- A Reply to Norman Solomon & Medea Benjamin

July 26, 2004

By Todd Chetien

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

-Thomas Paine, The Crisis, 1776

The great immigrant revolutionary, abolitionist and supporter of women's rights, Thomas Paine, made the point in 1776 that in order to win any meaningful battle, it is necessary not only to fight when it is easy.

It is necessary to fight, and in fact, it is especially important to fight when all "pragmatic" opinion counsels compromise, retreat and surrender. Had Washington's army sued for peace in 1776 at Valley Forge then the world's first representative democracy would never have been born.

Visionary abolitionist Frederick Douglass advised John Brown to abort his ill-fated raid on Harpers Ferry, not because he opposed the rebellion, but because he believed it could not succeed in its tactics. However, when John Brown was executed by the slave power, Douglass lauded him as the "man who started the war that ended slavery."

In 1937, Congress of Industrial Organization union leader John Lewis dared the government to break the auto sit-down strikes and "shoot him first." The auto bosses and Roosevelt backed down and we can thank the Flint rebels for the remnants of unions we still have today.

Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, touching off a direct action movement that bucked those who advised to let the apartheid courts work with "all deliberate speed." The racist backlash was intense and led to the deaths, beatings and jailings of thousands of young Black and white freedom fighters. But Jim Crow died as well.

Any serious consideration of American history shows that Thomas Paine was right. Independence, abolition, unions, civil rights, suffrage, abortion, Stonewall. All great rebellions and reforms came into being because the minority who advocated "unreasonable" demands refused to disorganize their forces under the pressure of majority opinion. Instead, they held to their principles, gathered their forces, weathered the storm and showed friend and foe alike that "truth and not lies are the motor force of history."

Today, we are at an historical crossroads. Bush has set the world on fire. He has invaded Iraq, Afghanistan and Haiti; cheered on the Israeli war against the Palestinians; shredded our civil liberties with the Patriot Act; and wants to codify his version of the Old Testament into a constitutional ban on gay marriage. He wants to outlaw abortion and doesn't believe in global warming. No doubt, he is a danger to the planet.

However, rather than opposing this madness, John Kerry has helped Bush light the matches. He voted for the invasions and wants to send more troops. He promises more, more, more of the same for Sharon's dirty war, and adds that we should get tough with Venezuela. He voted for the Patriot Act and vows to intensify the "war on terror" if elected. There are, of course, some differences. Kerry does not want to write his anti-gay marriage bigotry into the form of an amendment. He believes in global warming, but thinks any radical action to reverse it will hurt American corporate power. He says he will appoint anti-abortion federal judges, but will follow Clinton's policy of slowly outlawing abortion to the young and the poor.

Unfortunately, many "sunshine patriots" are demanding that the anti-war movement that put over a million people in the streets in the spring of 2003 now line up behind a pro-war candidate. This is especially wrong-headed timing because the majority of the country is turning against the war and occupation. Medea Benjamin, Peter Coyote, Daniel Ellsberg, Tom Hayden, Barbara Ehrenreich, Norman Solomon and many other liberal and progressive leaders tell us that a Kerry regime "would be less dangerous" than Bush. This may or may not be true. Remember, it was LBJ who escalated the war in Vietnam, not Nixon. But, even IF Kerry is "less dangerous," he will be MORE capable of wreaking havoc on Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, abortion, gay rights, civil rights and unions IF we sacrifice our political movement to getting behind him.

Tragically, rather than building on the great start we made in 2000 when Ralph Nader won 2.7 million votes for peace and justice, many of the very same people who helped that effort are trying to wreck it this time around. Rather than encouraging the Green Party and all anti-war organizations, unions, and civil rights groups to unite for a progressive campaign aiming to get millions of votes, they are condoning, if not actually leading, a campaign to villify as "Republican dupes" those movement organizers and ordinary people who believe Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo are right to fight for the chance to carry our mobilization for peace and justice into the ballot box.

In Los Angeles in 2000, Democratic Party leaders stood on the balcony of the Staples Center and watched the LAPD tear gas thousands of protesters. It seems to me that if we can't build a movement that learns not to vote for a party that directs police assaults on us, we don't have much hope of ever building a political challenge to corporate America. No doubt, the debate over presidential tactics will sharply separate many of us who have worked closely together in the past and will again in the future. While all those of us who want a better world should argue respectfully, debate we must because the stakes are too high to hold our tongues.

Norman Solomon wrote last month that he was registering Green precisely because its national convention nominated a candidate who promised not to challenge the two party system where it counts. He joins the chorus of liberal voices who warn us that "this is not the year." But he is wrong. Like Paine, Douglass, Parks, Lewis, Malcolm, Mario, Gurley-Flynn and countless others understood, any movement that ever aims to win, must learn to stand up for itself precisely when it is darkest. That's the only way the millions of people who hate the system that oppresses them can ever gain confidence in us to join us and transform our movement from a minority affair of protest into a majority tide of power. For whatever my effort is worth, I am registering Green this year because most of the people I know in the Green Party refused, and are refusing, to submit to the duopoly blackmail. Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo can't change the system by themselves, but every vote they receive will show the world that there are millions here in the United States who intend to conquer the hell of corporate power and the tyranny it rains down on the planet.

Hang on Citizen Paine, we're coming.


Todd Chretien was the California student coordinator for Medea Benjamin's Green Party campaign for Senate and the Nader 2000 presidential campaign. He is now the Northern California Field Coordinator for the Nader/Camejo 2004 campaign. He is regular contributor to the International Socialist Review and CounterPunch. He can be reached at ChretienTodd[at]