Ralph Nader Speaks Out Monday Night
October 12, 2004 1:58 PM
Presidential candidate Ralph Nader and his vice presidential running mate, Peter Camejo,Speaking spoke to an audience of over 700 people in a packed McKenna Theater at SF State on Monday, Oct. 11.
Nader and his running mate used SF State’s cheering students as a forum to outline their reasons for running in one of the most hotly competitive national elections in decades.
“This is not going to be a touchy-feely situation,” said Nader as he began his talk. One unidentified man then quickly shouted, “You’re number one!” as Nader took the stage.
Nader kept to his main theme of corporate control and power in the political process, where Nader sees a combination of money and economics that twists the priorities of both Democrats and Republicans.
He blasted both Bush and Kerry, asking pointed questions about both candidates’ membership in the secret Skull and Bones society at Yale University.
“One is Skull, the other is Bones,” said Nader, referring to the two top presidential candidates.
Nader also talked about circular alliances between military contractors and the government. He described a situation where he said American companies create new weapons systems, sell them to the US, then sell them to foreign nations so they can go back to the Pentagon and ask for more money to build new weapons systems to defend against the last generation of weapons systems.
“[But] back at home, there’s not enough money for schools,” Nader said.
Nader soon turned the talk towards the occupation in Iraq, and told the audience that he had a plan to withdraw US troops within six months, which brought cheers from many listeners.
“You don’t think the Iraqis know why we’re there?” said Nader, describing the connection between oil and the U.S. occupation Iraq.
Later, when Nader asked the crowd how many put in 50 hours a year investigating their own political representatives, only one man raised his hand. When Nader asked how many put that much time into watching sports, many more raised hands appeared.
“Corporations are entertaining us into silliness,” Nader said. “We pay, we pay and they’re laughing at us.”
Discussing his plan to deal with drug addiction, Nader asked marijuana smokers in the audience for a show of hands. About a quarter of the crowd rasied their hands and Nader responded that pot wasn’t a problem, but the current administration’s approach to drug addiction might be.
“It’s not working, it’s filling our prisons,” Nader.
Nader’s running mate, Peter Camejo, also gave a brief speech before Nader addressed the audience.
At times humorous and then serious, Camejo asked about why Kerry seemed to inexplicably praise Bush on occasion. He wanted to know why the Bush administration picked Iyad Allawi, who Camejo said had former ties to terror, as the interim leader of Iraq.
“We now have a terrorist as a prime minister [in Iraq],” Camejo said.
Students had a generally positive reaction to Camejo's speech.
“Camejo was definitely the charismatic speaker,” said journalism student and Republican Layne Karafantis.
“I think it’s great that the people who vote for Nader have such strong moral convictions that they will not sell their soul and vote for Kerry, as Camejo charmingly remarked," Karafantis said.
"Finally, I think it’s great that Bush will be re-elected.”
Before the speech, several students waiting in line at the door to the McKenna Theater said they had doubts about whom they would vote for in the Nov. 2 election.
“I’m pretty sure who I’m going to vote for, but I’d just like to see what he [Nader] has to offer,” said student Alissa Lamb.
Socialist Francisco Reyes also said he wanted to hear Nader’s views.
“I’m not going to vote for Bush, Kerry or Nader,” said Reyes. “I just want to hear him [Nader] out.”
Democrats too were interested in hearing Nader’s speech
“I’m curious to see what Ralph Nader has to say about his campaign for the presidency, and about him siphoning votes away from John Kerry in a very important election,” said Democrat Rebecca Farmer, showing her Kerry for President button on her bag.
In the last few minutes of Nader’s speech, Lyndon LaRouche supporter Ben Dennison, heckled Nader and suggested that the campaign is financed by Republicans.
“The Bush administration poses a much greater threat,” said Dennison. “If Nader really wanted to affect change, he’d do it in the Democratic party.”
Todd Chretien, a recent SF State graduate and the California coordinator for Nader’s campaign, said he helped arrange Nader’s talk at SF State, due in large part to the reception Nader received in 2000, when he last visited SF State, and the campus group Students for Nader.
“He knows there’s a long tradition of students at SF State supporting third-party candidates,” Chretien said.
When Nader left the stage and began signing copies of his book, Green Party member Allison Haagensen said that she liked Nader’s speech.
“I don’t think he’s going to win, but I think he inspires people.”
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