Green Party’s Nader urges citizen education at fund-raiser

Libby George

Falling rain didn’t deter more than 200 Green Party supporters and candidates from turning up to see 2000 presidential candidate and party leader Ralph Nader on Wednesday morning.

Nader’s appearance was part of a fund-raising breakfast at Walker Community United Methodist Church in south Minneapolis.

“If some mucky-muck from the Democratic Party came out and spoke at this time of day, they’d never get this many to turn out,” Nader said.

Introduced by State Party Chair Cam Gordon, Nader sounded off on issues ranging from action in Iraq to party unity and growth.

“You have to look at Bush and say, ‘What’s his motivation for war?’ ” Nader said. “He’s using it as an election tool.”

Nader also said in order to influence politics and spread awareness, the Greens need to offer citizen training courses to teach people to write to their elected representative and get involved.

“Then people will start saying the Greens are not just out for themselves. They’re actually servicing the democratic needs of the community,” Nader said.

He stressed to the crowd that in order to have third parties at all, people must support Greens.

“When you are in the business of building a party, you go with your candidate or quit,” Nader said. “You may say the race is only Wellstone or Coleman, but then pretty soon, you don’t have a party.”

Nader also attacked what he sees as opposition to the Greens from other parties.

“All over the country, people are trying to put up hurdles for third parties,” Nader said. “They want to snuff out challenges. They want a duopoly Ö that is an unacceptable principle of democracy.”

Nader cited the recent ruling that the 5 percent mark necessary for major party status cannot be attained by a national candidate.

“I just found out this morning,” Nader said. “And who’s behind that? It’s Paul Wellstone.”

Eric Oines, Green Party candidate for the State House in district 58A, said most of the money Nader raised will go to the Minnesota Green Party.

“It’s going to the state Green Party to support the statewide Get Out the Vote campaign,” Oines said.

The Get Out the Vote campaign prints sample ballots for each congressional district that voters can take with them to vote. It also distributes statewide voter guides containing candidate information.

“The last weekend before the election, we will distribute about 50,000 voter guides,” Oines said. “We are trying to get one Green candidate vote in every county in Minnesota. We didn’t have that in the Nader election in 2000.”

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Ken Pentel, Senate candidate Ray Tricomo and secretary of state candidate Andrew Koebrick joined Green state Legislature candidates for the speech.

Organizers estimated the breakfast raised over $1,000 for the Green Party, as volunteers took suggested $35 donations at the door.

Nader followed the speech with a book signing in the church basement and a press conference at City Hall.