Democratic Party activists rally support at Cowles Auditorium

by Benjamin Sandell

Democratic Party activists rallied Tuesday night on campus in an attempt to persuade voters to stand behind Al Gore instead of opting for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.
The “Remember the Supreme Court” rally, sponsored by the state DFL party, drew about 100 people to Cowles Auditorium in the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
The activists said voters need to remember the next president will nominate up to five members of the Supreme Court. Some Gore supporters argue that if Bush is elected, the Roe v. Wade decision might be in jeopardy.
Human rights advocate Elizabeth Birch, abortion rights activist Alice Germond, environmentalist Robert Cox and state DFL party chair Mary McEvoy spoke at the event.
Musician Stephen Stills and feminist Gloria Steinem were also scheduled to appear but did not attend.
Minnesota, which typically votes Democratic in presidential elections, is now being considered a swing state.
According to recent polls, Nader is attracting about 8 percent of Minnesota voters, leading some to believe the consumer rights advocate is culling votes from Gore.
Besides focusing on the Supreme Court, speakers highlighted the difference among the candidates on the environment and gay and lesbian rights.
“We gather from all walks of American life,” Birch said, adding she respects Nader, but “we must do all we can to get Gore elected.”
She argued that in Texas, Bush restricted gay and lesbian rights and said he would likely do the same for all Americans as president.
Germond echoed Birch, saying the legality of an abortion hangs in the balance.
“Imagine George W. Bush signing legislation after legislation taking away our rights,” she said.
Robert Cox, president of the Sierra Club, said he agrees with Nader on many issues and wanted the Green Party candidate to be included in the debates.
However, he said now is not the time to protest and said voters must unite behind Gore.
Not everyone was convinced to rule out Nader.
Katie Sabaka, a sophomore global studies major, said she is a true Nader fan.
“I’m not going to sway from Nader, I’m here in support of women’s rights and the right to choose,” she said, adding that she wishes more people would recognize Nader.
However, some in attendance heeded the advice of rally speakers.
Brian Wiedenmeier, a freshman English major, said he supported Nader but now feels that it is more important to ensure Bush isn’t elected.
“It would weigh on my conscience if I voted for Nader and Bush won,” he said.
The rally speakers are on a five-state tour, which also includes Oregon, Washington, New Mexico and Wisconsin — states with significant support for Nader.

Benjamin Sandell welcomes comments at [email protected]