Ralph Nader draws crowd to the University

Peter Johnson

Green Party presidential team Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke visited the Twin Cities Friday, holding a fund-raising dinner, speaking at a Willey Hall rally and visiting with Gov. Jesse Ventura.
Nader, a prominent anti-corporate and environmental activist, is campaigning nationwide to build support for his third-party attempt at the presidency.
Nader’s campaign remains controversial, as his stances on campaign finance reform, industrial hemp, environment issues and the dominance of corporations place his politics outside the mainstream.
“Our government’s primary responsibility is to facilitate the political energies of its people,” Nader said. “The lower the voter turnout, the easier it is to control (the election).”
Nader faces an uphill battle; aside from overcoming the finances and name recognition of the major parties, he must also gain access to televised debates for purposes of credibility and publicity — a task which has proven difficult for third-party candidates.
Nader remarked, “I think the two parties are heading for a breakdown. That’s why they’re so desperate to keep people like me and (Reform Party candidate Pat) Buchanan out of the debates.
“There are two look-alike parties who are indentured to the same business interests,” he added.
Nader’s speech centered on his campaign platform and fund raising, as well as a preview of his new commercial. The ad, with a youth-oriented electronic backbeat, proclaimed, “Nader not for sale.”
His platform is permeated with criticism of the Republicans and Democrats, as well as statements on the dominance of corporations and its effect on democracy.
“The concentration of corporations … establishes autocratic systems of governance called the NAFTA and the World Trade Organization which are contradictory to the procedures of democratic due process,” Nader said.
“With the rise of the modern corporation, these companies have long transcended any accountability. They want to establish an underdeveloped democracy and an overdeveloped plutocracy,” he added.
A recent Reuters poll found Nader drawing about 8 percent in New York and California and 7 percent nationwide. This is compared with 50 percent for Republican front-runner Texas Gov. George W. Bush and 41 percent for Vice President Al Gore.
Nader acknowledges the long road ahead, but remains optimistic.
“This campaign cannot lose, because we define winning in so many different ways,” Nader said.