California Senator comes to U to rally support for Gore

George Fairbanks

With the general election less than two weeks away and the results of recent polls surprisingly close, both Democratic Vice President Al Gore and Republican Texas Gov. George W. Bush are calling out the troops to rally supporters and draw in vital undecided votes.
Sen. Tom Hayden, D-Calif., stopped at the University on Thursday to tout Gore’s candidacy and, more specifically, to offer reasons to vote for the vice president over Green Party nominee Ralph Nader
“I feel like a Nader voter in a sense because the Democratic Party is in trouble nationally and they call people like me in to bail them out,” Hayden said.
He further explained that he was essentially for a Gore-Nader ticket because he likes both men.
“Gore is better than Bush and I want him to win. Anyone who says Bush and Gore are the same has an agenda,” Hayden said. “I also want Nader to get five percent so the Green Party will be strong in 2004.”
Now Hayden is hitting the trail to help Gore and his running mate Joseph Lieberman. The campaign is recruiting liberals, like Hayden, in an effort to stop the “Nader effect,” which is pulling Democrats to the Green Party ticket of Nader and Winona LaDuke.
Hayden, who has donated money to Nader, expressed his respect and admiration for the Green Party candidate. He noted however, that the thought of a Bush presidency was too much for him to bear.
“I’m a Democrat because I believe in the rank and file Democrats. My black, Latino, gay and lesbian and women voters will stick with Gore even though they’ve been abused by the party. My white environmental voters will vote Nader because they have less at stake,” Hayden said.
For Hayden the election essentially boils down to not allowing Bush into the White House. “Would you rather have Gore with his faults? Or Bush consolidating power with (Mississippi Sen.) Trent Lott?”
Hayden represents a California district that includes a chunk of Los Angeles. That city is now in the midst of an investigation into massive police corruption, including drug dealing and murder.
The Justice Department gave the city a list of 15 things they must do to clean up city policing or be faced with a lawsuit, Hayden said.
“Bush has said he’ll yank the Justice Department out of L.A. even though they’re reforming the LAPD, because he doesn’t believe in federal control,” he added.
Even though Hayden has spent his entire public service career as a Democrat, he was clear in his displeasure over the slow move to the right the party has taken. “I feel parties smother you. They’re like cults, people run around with their party. But I know we need to have them.”
Hayden, who is retiring from the Senate when his term is up Nov. 30, said he hoped that, besides a Gore victory, Nader would garner the coveted five percent of the electoral vote, which would ensure the Green Party major party status and lock up federal funds for the 2004 election.
Hayden said he thinks Nader doesn’t see it in quite the same way.
“Nader’s view is that if he prevents Gore from winning, the Democratic Party will have to take a cold shower,” he said. “But Nader won’t suffer under Bush, the poor will suffer and the environment will suffer. I’m skeptical that a cold shower will fall on those who deserve it, rather than the undeserving.”
In addition to being a California senator and former representative, Hayden is well known for his role as one of the legendary Chicago Seven, an organization that masterminded student protests at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
The protests are best remembered for the graphic videos and photographs of the violent and physical confrontations between police and protesters.
After the Chicago Seven trial, for which his conviction was eventually overturned, Hayden married and later divorced actress and protestor Jane Fonda.
In addition to his 18 years of service in California, Hayden is also the author of eight books.
Before protesting the Vietnam War, Hayden was battling for the civil rights movement in places like Georgia and Mississippi and the ghettos in Newark, N.J. He knows the importance a movement can have on politics and society, he said: “Movements can kick politics into life.”