Nader Expects To Present Challenge
DENVER (AP) _ Green Party presidential nominee Ralph Nader promises that things will be really different if he wins the White House, and he says that has the two major parties worried.
The first order of business: Reform the political process.
Nader, a longtime consumer advocate, easily won the Green Party’s nomination at its convention Sunday and told delegates the party represents majority values, including a fair marketplace, a clean environment and proper health care.
As president, he said, he would target the military brass, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Congress and the State Department.
Nader wants the Pentagon to stop its obsession with missile defense programs and focus on infectious diseases as national threats; wants to renegotiate trade agreements, especially with the World Trade Organization and wants Congress to listen to the voters instead of corporations.
Nader said he would cut the number of DEA agents and force the government to focus on health rehabilitation programs. He said the Justice Department needs to do a better job at looking at white-collar crime.
If the Republicans and Democrats think he is joking about his chances of winning, he said, they should talk to the disaffected Minnesota voters who made former professional wrestler Jesse Ventura their governor.
Nader said mainstream politics are moving toward Green Party values, and he cited examples: voters frustrated with traffic jams, concerned about pollution and angry with their lack of a voice in the political system.
``This is such mainstream stuff,″ he said in an interview with wire service reporters.
Nader promised a vigorous campaign, and said he believes he has a chance to win elections and force the Republican and Democratic parties to listen to his issues.
In his acceptance speech, which lasted nearly two hours, Nader said the Green Party stands for conservative goals and can ``help shape the world’s course to one of justice and peace for years to come.″
``Don’t conservatives, in contrast to corporationists, want movement toward a safe environment, toward ending corporate welfare? Let us not in this campaign prejudge any voters, for Green values are majoritarian values. They are more than that,″ he said.
``Green values respect all peoples and all strivings to give greater rights to all voters.″
Nader’s vice presidential running mate is Winona LaDuke, an Ojibwe activist from the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota.
Nader got a cheering reception from delegates who said Democrats and Republicans are not worried Nader will be a spoiler but that Nader will win.
``The progressive movement is now rallying around Ralph Nader, as it should. This is not a political campaign, but a call to arms,″ said former Texas agriculture commissioner Jim Hightower, who placed Nader’s name in nomination.
Nader was one of three candidates campaigning for the party’s presidential nomination. He easily defeated challengers Jello Biafra, former lead singer for the Dead Kennedys punk band, and Stephen Gaskin, founder of a Tennessee commune. According to unofficial tallies, Nader got 295 votes, Gaskin 10 and Biafra 10. There was one vote for ``none of the above.″
Nader said he does not care if his campaign hurts Republican George W. Bush or Democrat Al Gore, even if it costs Gore the election, as long as the major parties listen to his issues.
Nader also urged the major parties to open the presidential debates to all candidates who qualify for federal matching campaign funds, including Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan.
The Commission on Presidential Debates is limiting participation to candidates with at least 15 percent support in national polls. That threshold currently excludes Nader and Buchanan, both of whom are in single digits in the surveys.