Reform Party candidate Ralph Nader spoke at a rally Wednesday night at Centro Astoriano in Ybor City. Speaking to a crowd of approximately 200 people, the presidential candidate’s speech was heavy with criticism for big business that he said controls Washington.
Nader began by discussing what he considers the country’s true assets.
“The wealth of this country is the common wealth owned by the people,” he said, listing publicly owned property, community health clinics, libraries and broadcasting. “The FCC doesn’t control air waves, they are just our real estate agent.”
Nader also spoke of “America’s woes.”
“We do not control what we own,” he said. “The corporations who do turn it against us.”
Large corporations have “subverted parental authority,” and are separating parents from children by marketing products directly to children under 12, he said.
Nader sites what he calls the “over-medication of children,” or unneeded drug prescriptions for “children who are too shy, who don’t eat at the right time,” he said.
These ideas were a launch pad for his critique of the Bush Administration.
“When was the last time Bush stood up against big business?” Nader asked the audience.
He said Bush supports globalization by allowing corporations to send jobs to countries run by dictatorships.
“Our Christian, evangelic president supports that. There is no such thing as free trade with a dictatorship,” he said, also asking the audience to repeat the phrase with him.
At a press conference before his speech, Nader made several points about sincere voting.
“It is time to ask the central question of this campaign,” he said. “Are the people of this country going to vote with confidence or are they going to vote for who they think is the least worst? Vote for who you believe in even if you don’t think they will win.”
He characterizes anyone voting for Kerry as cowardly if they pick him only as the lesser of two evils.
“They are making no demands on their choice for president,” he said. “Michael Moore would be among those.”
He said the Democratic Party was not one to stand behind and was a shell of its former self.
“The Democratic Party is a spineless, gutless, hapless party,” he said. “The fact that they can’t landslide the Bush/Cheney ticket is proof of their decadence and decay.”
Nader also voiced his support of an amendment that would increase minimum wage by a dollar. The president and his brother, Governor Jeb Bush, are opposed to the amendment, as they are being submissive to big business, Nader said.
Nader said $5.15 is “surf wages, it is slave wages None of you should support a slave economy.”
Presidential debates, from which he has been excluded and which begin tonight at the University of Miami, were another issue he spoke about at length during the press conference. The 40-year veteran of politics has developed a sense of humor on the problem that has plagued him for several years.
He deadpanned: “I’m in close contact with Zorro,” whom he said will help him infiltrate the debates by air ducts and land on stage, cape and all.