Ralph Nader, the third party contender for President in the 2000 election, who is well known for his support of legalizing marijuana for personal use, spoke to Temple students and media last Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Student Center Annex.
“[I support] decriminalization of marijuana, but regulated,” Nader said.
This would provide for a regulated distribution of the substance similar to that of alcohol, Nader said. Of the plant’s commercial uses Nader said, “Industrial hemp has nothing to do with marijuana uses, it’s a great thing.”
Nader lost the presidential election in 2000 to President Bush. He has been critical of the Bush administration and its policies, particularly the war in Iraq.
“If we don’t tell the Iraqi people that they’re going to get their country back, then they will support all kinds of insurgencies,” Nader said.
He further explained that this means not just a military withdrawal. He said America must also withdraw our economic controls, introduce international peace keepers, have internationally controlled elections and sustain the same humanitarian aid.
“The insurgency cannot succeed without lots of people supporting it,” Nader said.
Nader also criticized the current administration.
“You think if we had a real democracy they would have been a war in Iraq? Of course not,” Nader said. “Some of us believed Bush’s lies. Democrats folded. The press saluted. And here we are, in a terrible quagmire.”
Nader also focused on the ever-present majority of political apathy on college campuses.
“If I gave an ethnic, racial and gender slur to college students they’d go ballistic – [that’s] just words,” Nader said. “The fact their democracy is being progressively destroyed, before them, and they know it and their jobs are at stake, and their future is at stake. None of this gets college students angry.”
He said that students will not take interest without a reason.
“You’ve got to find ways to make these issues exciting,” Nader said.
The former Green Party candidate said there is a need for electoral reform on the national and state level, primarily in Pennsylvania, where 67,000 signatures are needed for a candidate to be listed on the ballot. In California the number is 170,000; however, in Massachusetts only 400 are needed.
“They kick you off the ballot … I could tell you stories you wouldn’t believe,” Nader said. “In Oregon they went to our petitioners homes, and threatened jail.”
Nader also focused on the ineffectiveness of standardized testing by saying “these tests don’t test your creativity, determination, diligence, idealism; they don’t test anything that really matters in life,” Nader said. “There’s a real tyranny there. You try to go to law school in the 80th percentile. A lot of kids know how to take these exams, [that] doesn’t mean they’re not going to be great lawyers. It’s like a game.”
He encouraged students to not only work in the community but to encourage the Temple to add a civic skills class.
Nader also asked a series of question posed to the audience.
“Why do so many college students now wonder whether if they become accountants or engineers they may have their jobs outsourced to India and elsewhere? Why do you have lousy public transit? Why do you have such high tuition rates?” Nader asked. “It all comes down to a political system that is corrupt and owned by corporate and commercial interests.”
Nader’s lecture carried the same message that he has carried throughout his many campaigns. During the lecture, the main issue he spoke of was the present state of the two-party system.
Nader said he believes the current corporately controlled system is a duopoly, which means the only difference in the parties is the spelling of their names.
Nader stressed to the student body that all people in America, including himself, have grown up in a corporately-run world.
“The world awaits you,” Nader said. “There are huge problems, great potential for solving so many abuses and injustices, deprivations and starvations, diseases and wars around the world.”
Tom Hinkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.