Amid supporters and protesters, presidential candidate Ralph Nader blamed anti-Bush campaigners for being too soft on Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in a speech he delivered last Thursday night at the State Theatre in downtown Ithaca. Nader, who will appear on the November ballot as an independent, said that many people are so unhappy with President George W. Bush that they are willing to overlook any flaws that Kerry may have.
“What’s afflicting young people today? The lowest level of expectation regarding the political parties or system … because Bush is so bad we have surrendered our expectation levels,” Nader said. “If you leave Kerry alone, you don’t make him better. … Make no demands on Kerry — you know what you’re going to get? Bush light,” he added.
Inside, supporters waved “Bush Must Go” signs and stood at tables selling Nader T-shirts and stickers while Nader protesters stood at the back of the theater holding signs that said “Oh Ralph, Not Again” and “How’s the Ego Trip?” with “Kerry/Edwards ’04” on the back. Outside the theater, several people shouted, “A vote for Nader is a vote for Bush,” as one protester walked along the street wearing a mask with President Bush’s face on it and carrying a sign that read “Thanks Ralph, I owe you!”
Nader continued his speech by pointing out Kerry’s stance on the war in Iraq, saying that the Massachusetts senator has become more hawkish than the current president.
“What’s the biggest issue in the antiwar community? Iraq. Kerry knows this. They see that antiwar people have nowhere to go because Bush is a hawk — a messianic militarist,” Nader charged.
The 2000 Green Party candidate said that liberals who “gave Kerry a free ride are the ones to blame for Kerry’s new hawkish position.”
Nader also addressed what he perceives as the role that corporations play in American politics.
“Washington has closed down. There are for-sale signs all around the Hill. And you know who can afford them — it’s not the ordinary people, it’s the corporations,” Nader said.
Outlining his platform, Nader called for a living wage for all Americans. He called the living wage “a wage you can live on, support your family on. George W. Bush doesn’t even believe in minimum wage, he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth.”
He also called for a repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act and an assault on poverty.
Since declaring his bid for the presidency, Nader has been criticized by Democrats for taking votes from Kerry, and celebrated by Republicans for the same reason.
At the speech on Thursday, Nader was met with a mixed response from people who either agreed or disagreed with his decision to run.
“I think it’s interesting, but he comes off as kind of pompous. I agree with so many of his beliefs, if not all, but I don’t know if he’s going about it the right way,” said Marian Flaxman ’08.
“We are supporting Nader because Ralph Nader represents a real break from the Democratic Party … Nader has a real following and this campaign is part of a movement,” said Bekah Ward grad, a member of the International Socialist Organization, a group that is campaigning on Nader’s behalf.
“Politicians should earn their votes based on issues and we shouldn’t be strong-armed into voting one way,” Ward said.
As the election draws near, Bush and Kerry stand in an almost dead heat, with Nader earning support of 1.6 percent of likely voters, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released yesterday.
Archived article by Erica Temel
Sun News Editor