Nader’s selection of Peter Camejo as VP

Nader has picked Peter Camejo, Mr. Avocado himself (an avocado is Green on the inside, and Green on the outside), as his running mate/VP. For those of you not in the know, Camejo ran as the Green Party of California’s candidate for Governor in 2000 and 2002, earning respectable totals in both campaigns (over 5% in the 2000 race, and 200,000+ votes in both races). This is a political masterstroke (at least, if you look at it from the perspective of a Nader campaign supporter):

1. It (negatively) seals the fate of an independent Green Party candidacy by David Cobb. Faced with the double-whammy of a Nader/Camejo ticket, each of which draws upon a significant and not necessarily overlapping segment of the Green voter/activist population, it seems inconceivable that a Cobb campaign could gain any traction at all, even within the confines of the Green Party itself. Having Camejo running as the “Green” half of a Nader/Green “fusion” ticket* pretty much renders Cobbs’ “Safe States” campaign pointless, and narrows even further a base already considerably shrunken by defections to the Nader campaign. A Cobb campaign would be a “rump” campaign in the most classic sense of the word, and I think most activists within the Green Party will recognize that and vote accordingly.

2. It renders whatever decision the Green Party makes in Milwaukee about endorsing Nader more or less irrelevant – with Camejo having delivered a big chunk of the Green grassroots to the Nader camp, all the convention can do is make it more or less difficult for Nader to obtain a few ballot lines. What will the convention decide? Who knows… my sense is that the momentum for a Nader endorsement is building, but at the same time, if Camejo’s decision has finally put the last nail in the idea of an independent Green candidacy via David Cobb, as I think it has, it may very well result in a substantial number of the party’s delegates opting to sit this one out, rather than putting the Green Party in the position of supporting and being a proxy for a candidate (or a pair of candidates) over which it has no control whatsoever.

Why Camejo?

1. There was a very strong “Draft Camejo” movement in the Green Party, folks who’ve been seeking to ensure that an authentically Green voice is heard this November, one that the media will have a hard time silencing. Camejo, even as the VP of a Nader ticket, fits that bill very well, and I think most of the Draft Camejo types will very willingly come on over to a Nader/Camejo ticket, regardless of whether the Green Party officially endorses it.

2. Camejo’s always been a bit of a wildcard, willing to go his own way, regardless of whether or not the party establishment has bothered to line itself up behind him or not (such as when he plunged into the race for Governor of California during the recall election), and this fits. It also, as I point out above, pretty much seals off any potential for a strong campaign by a separate Green Party nominee.

* See: The Challenge of 2004: GREEN PARTY UNITY (from Peter Camejo) and Robert Caldwell’s essay, For a Green-Nader Candidacy.

What do I think, personally? I don’t know. I like Camejo, and I like Nader, but I’d like them both more if they were the official nominees of the Green Party itself, rather than independents making an end run around party process. I’m a Green, first, not a Naderite or an “independent progressive”. I believe that the most effective way to work for the long term transformation of American politics (and thus the preservation of life on this planet) is build the Green Party into a credible and effective alternative to the politics of the status quo, as represented by the duopoly. I don’t see how an independent campaign by Nader and Camejo does this, and so I find it hard to muster much enthusiasm for it. That said, Kerry’s done nothing to earn my vote as of yet, and quite a bit to lose it… under normal circumstances; but we’re not in normal times, and Bush strikes me as incredibly dangerous (or rather, those around him). Enough so, that I’m willing to concede that I might hold my nose in November and cast a vote for him, if things look close in California.

Put it another way: you’re not likely to see me pounding the pavement, or writing a check, or holding a fundraiser, or manning a phone, for any candidate for President of the U.S. this fall. Ray Glock-Gruenich (Green) for Congress in the 17th District, anyone? 🙂