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Boston: Hundreds pack Ralph Nader meeting
WHILE THE last preparations were being put in place for the corporate-sponsored, stage-managed Democratic Party Convention in the USA, independent radical presidential candidate Ralph Nader spoke in Boston about why he's determined to challenge the two-party status quo.
Dan DiMaggio and Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (USA)
On 23 July, 700-800 people crowded two big lecture halls at Harvard University to hear the anti-war, anti-corporate message from the man who is drawing more ire from some Democratic Party pundits than George W. Bush.
Nader called George W. Bush "a giant corporation disguised as a human being residing in the White House" and said his administration was "marinated in oil".
But he warned that the Democrats are no alternative - their presidential nominee John Kerry is "for the war and wants to stay in Iraq, he tows the Sharon party line, he's for corporate globalisation, the WTO and NAFTA, and he voted for the Patriot Act - the greatest single assault on civil liberties in the country's history."
Socialist Alternative, (CWI, USA) who supported the Nader campaign in 2000 and is doing so again in 2004, were the main organisers of the rally.
We originally booked a single room with a 350-seat capacity expecting to fill maybe 200 seats. But as the buzz about the rally grew, Harvard moved the meeting to a much larger room and even provided a second room with a live video feed!
The turnout was surprising given that organisers had less than a week to spread the word. With the help of energetic activists who came to Boston from as far away as Alaska with the goal of getting Nader on the Massachusetts ballot, thousands of flyers were posted and distributed throughout the greater Boston area.
Many posters were defaced or torn down, but still 700-800 people turned up, a tremendous figure especially given the obstacles we faced. These included the fact that half the population of Boston had fled the city to escape the Democratic National Convention!
Also, the event occurred at the same time as the Boston Social Forum, which attracted many local activists, and was at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon.
The crowd was overwhelmingly made up of youth, a reflection of the support Nader is getting from young people. Currently, 12% of young people between the ages of 18-30 say they are going to vote for Nader.
The turnout is proof that despite the avalanche of attacks that "2004 is not 2000" from the corporate media and liberal democrats, Nader's campaign is attracting a very important layer of activists, workers and youth.
It is helping legitimise the idea of independent politics and is paving the way for further independent anti-corporate, anti-war and working-class challenges to corporate politics.
Jeff Booth, a Harvard worker, union member and a member of Socialist Alternative, spoke about the Harvard "No Layoffs" campaign. Harvard is the largest employer in the region and the richest university in the world with a $19 billion endowment but has recently laid off hundreds of workers.
Patrick Ayers of Socialist Alternative and a student at UMass-Boston spoke about using the Nader campaign to launch a new party that speaks "for the millions and not the millionaires".
At the end of the meeting, Nader answered a variety of questions from the audience. Organisers collected over a thousand dollars in donations. Anyone who donated $75 or more received an autographed copy of Nader's new book, The Good Fight. Also a number of audience members signed up to help collect signatures to get Nader on the Massachusetts ballot.
- Socialist Alternative was the most visible organisation at the event. We sold $165 of materials including dozens of copies of our pamphlet, Support Nader's Campaign for President: It's Time to Break from the Two-Party System!
- We also sold over 100 copies of our newspaper, Justice, and collected the names of over 20 people who wanted more information about Socialist Alternative.
In The Socialist 21 August 2004:
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