Monday, October 30, 2000
Page 0

1,200 see Nader in IMU

The Green Party candidate inspires some locals to change their preference.

By Jesse Elliott/The Daily Iowan

Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader brought his anti-corporate views to the UI on Oct. 27 in an attempt to rally both Democratic Party and undecided voter support in the final days of the 2000 election season.

The event, held in the IMU Main Ballroom, drew approximately 2,000 Democratic, Republican and Green Party supporters from the UI and Iowa City community.

UI law Professor and School Board member Nick Johnson, who introduced Nader to the crowd, said he has worked actively in every Democratic presidential campaign since 1948 and held appointments under three Democratic administrations before deciding to endorse Nader earlier this year.

"This was not a trivial decision for me," Johnson told the crowd. "But I have come reluctantly to the conclusion that the two major parties are no more able of internal reform through instituting campaign-finance laws than a heroin addict is of kicking his habit."

He said that 30 years of broken promises from both of the two major parties to reform campaign finance, combined with Nader's commitment to rid the political process of private-interest money, led to his endorsement of Nader.

Nader took the stage at 7:30 p.m. to the applause of 1,200 people in the packed ballroom and another 700 in an overflow viewing room. He spoke for two hours, conducted an hour-long question-and-answer session, and met with supporters at a post-rally reception.

The main topics of his speech included "the current two-headed corporate party being nurtured by a Niagara of corporate money," the history of civil disobedience in America and the need for younger voters to be "skeptical, not cynical" in regards to the American political system.

"The conventional response of cynicism to crooked politicians will not work," Nader told the crowd. "Cynicism shrinks back. Skepticism roars back."

Democratic supporters of the Gore/Lieberman ticket were not the only ones in attendance to give Nader's message a second thought after the speech.

Jasmine Bootman, an Iowa State University senior who was persuaded by Democratic, Green and Republican friends to drive the two hours to see Nader, was planning on voting for Republican candidate George W. Bush until the rally.

"I considered Bush the lesser of two evils," Bootman said. "But I had never realized before tonight how deep corporate sponsorship ran in our government. It's an ethical stand I just can't agree with."

Not everyone in the crowd was sold on Nader's message.

UI sophomore Patrick Harvey said he wasn't impressed by Nader, who was "not a very enthusiastic speaker."

"He's too extreme to get anything done," he said. "I like his arguments about the drug war and the need for a no-confidence box on the ballot, but he's got nothing to offer to the mainstream voting public."

Others in the crowd complained that even if Nader's intentions are good, his speech was too long to be effective, and much of the crowd dispersed before it was over.

But Nader himself was optimistic about the gathering, praising the UI and campuses across the country for having the public forums, libraries, research facilities and talented faculties that allow students to "use their idealism now to make a difference."

He won UI senior Jane Anderson's vote with this sentiment and others, she said.

"I was going to vote for Gore because he is not as supportive of big business as Bush," she said. "After this (rally), my vote goes to Nader."

Anderson also said the event had inspired her to get more involved in volunteer work with community organizations, another major point in Nader's speech.

"Stop growing up corporate," he urged the audience. "Start growing up civic."

DI reporter Jesse Elliott can be reached at: