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Oregon Editors Say:

The difficulty of being Green

Of course David Cobb is a spoiler, but he has a point about access

The (Corvallis) Gazette-Times

As a certain amphibious sock puppet has frequently noted, it isn't easy being Green.

Just ask David Cobb, the Green Party's presidential candidate. Cobb and the Green Party have a hard time being taken seriously. While Oregon Democrats fought hard to keep Ralph Nader off the state's ballot, they haven't bothered being too vocal in chastising Cobb. Nevertheless, Cobb is keenly sensitive to the inevitable charge that he's a spoiler helping re-elect President Bush.

During a campaign stop in Corvallis Monday evening at the Odd Fellows Hall, he gave a Seussian-sounding denial of the spoiler claim that a vote for Cobb is a vote for Bush: A vote for Cobb is a vote for Cobb, he said. What others call 'spoiling,' we call 'participating.' We need more voices, and we need more choices.

Yes and no.

Of course Cobb is a spoiler. Even if he wishes it were so, the United States doesn't have the instant runoff voting system of Australia, London, New Zealand and San Francisco that levels the playing field for third-party candidates. Winner still takes all. In fact, John Kerry is technically a spoiler.

— But that doesn't mean Cobb's point about presenting an alternative wasn't on point. America is not the melting pot of old. We are more like a quilt than a melting pot.

It's reasonable to expect in our free society that there would be a rise in the number of smaller parties, and it's healthy. But don't expect to hear that for the next few weeks. In the super-heated rhetoric 24 days before a presidential election that's in a dead heat, it's doubtful that supporters of President Bush or Sen. Kerry are going to be kindly disposed to Cobb's sentiment that This is about building a movement. This is an organizing exercise, this campaign.

In a way, it's a good reminder that no matter who occupies the White House in January, the nation will survive it. We always have. That's because the secret to the nation's success hasn't depended as much on the wisdom of its leaders as it has on the common sense of its people.