Fledging Nader Group Plans for Election and Beyond
August 31, 2004 4:58 PM
Quietly the students gathered in a concrete room below the Cesar Chavez Student Center. It was early afternoon on Wednesday when seven men and one woman gathered to discuss their plan – ending the war, junking the Patriot Act – and the person who represents their cause: Ralph Nader.
The first meeting of Students for Nader was more like a congenial chat among like-minded SF State students than a clandestine meeting of revolutionaries. Despite the meeting’s tameness, those who gathered talked about changing the American political system, working to combat political apathy among their peers and let their fellow voters know they have a third choice when voting this November.
Nader, who was not endorsed this election by the Green Party and is now running as an independent with Peter Camejo on the ballots of seven states (California is not one of those states) and could qualify to be on more ballots in the coming weeks.
“This is a process of change and building democracy,” said David Russitano, one of the meeting’s organizers and a liberal studies major at SF State. Russitano is a registered Green Party member but will vote for Nader this election. Despite the setbacks Nader has faced this year, Russitano contended Nader is a vehicle for change.
“Young people care but because of the lack of choices we’re given, there’s not really a choice,” he added, referring to the small presence of a third party in this year’s election.
The goal of the organization is to create a forum for people to discuss national issues – the war in Iraq, America’s dependence on foreign oil, among other issues – and encourage students to register to vote and vote for Nader. The meeting’s organizers insisted that their efforts will last longer than the November elections and that they are trying to build an organization that will champion independent party issues in between elections.
“There will be some people who do get active but will fade away after the election,” said Jeff Boyette, a Students for Nader organizer and cinema major. "But we are building something for the future.”
The reasons for those who attended were as varied as their goals for the organization.
“I’m here to see what I can do,” said Shane Gill, a cinema major, who said he planned on voting for Nader in November.
Binh Tam Ha, a biology student and only woman in attendance, said she came because she did not know much about Nader but liked that the meeting was “open to hear anyone out.”
Another attendee, John Chilcotti, a history major, who voted for Nader in the 70s, said Bush is the biggest threat to Nader who cannot “do a complete surrender to corporations” and “must make the electoral system proportional.” Chilcotti recommended the Nader supporters attend the presidential election lectures on Wednesday nights in the College of Humanities to ensure that the Greens “don’t get pushed to the side by Democrats and Republicans.”
After settling scheduling conflicts the fledging group plans on setting up tables near the student center to recruit members, organize debates with other campus political groups and register voters.
“I just need something different to put my hopes into,” said August Beck, a meeting organizer and civil engineer major.
Students for Nader will meet every Tuesday at 1 p.m. in room C-112 of the student center. Peter Camejo is scheduled to address the campus on Sept. 19 at noon.
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