Green Party nominee talks at U

by Chris Vetter

The day after a presidential candidate spoke to a packed house in the Target Center, a lesser-known vice presidential candidate spoke to a smaller crowd on the University campus.
Winona LaDuke spoke about the need to revive democracy in America to an audience Tuesday night in Willey Hall, one day after President Clinton spoke in favor of Sen. Paul Wellstone in downtown Minneapolis. LaDuke, a Minnesotan, is the vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket with presidential candidate Ralph Nader, a long-time consumer advocate.
“I believe it is time to recover democracy for all of us who live here,” LaDuke said. “Most decisions in the world are made by the 47 large transnational corporations.”
LaDuke, 37, is a graduate from Harvard University. She is an Ojibwe activist and the founder of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, which works to recover land from the federal government on the White Earth reservation.
“I have worked on my reservation of White Earth all my life,” LaDuke said. She said she has fought endlessly against bureaucracies and administration to bring positive change to the reservation.
“I am faced with the challenge of challenging bad policy makers,” LaDuke said.
The major points of the Green Party platform are reforming the election finance laws, improving conditions for labor workers in the United States, ending corporate welfare and protecting the environment.
LaDuke said campaign finance reform is needed because large corporations control public policy, a right that should be reserved for the average citizen.
“It is no wonder that with hard money and soft money, that public policy begins to look like it was written in a corporate boardroom,” LaDuke said.
LaDuke said there is enough money in the United States so that no one has to live in poverty. She advocated a livable minimum wage and a maximum wage of $100,000 per person. “It is a shame that a nation with this much wealth has so much poverty,” she said.
Environmental protection is a key plank in the Green Party platform. LaDuke advocates a “seventh generation amendment” to the Constitution, which would require that all environmental decisions be made thinking of how it will affect the next seven generations on the Earth. She also criticized Clinton for cutting spending on the Endangered Species Act earlier this year.
Despite being on the ballot in Minnesota, the Green Party has not gained recognition in all 50 states. The Nader-LaDuke ticket is only on the ballot in 21 states and in the District of Columbia.
Tuesday’s speech was the first of a two-day event to get Minnesotans out to vote for the Green Party. Tonight the party is sponsoring a concert titled “Justice Jam,” featuring Fode Bangoura, a drummer from a West African drum group.