Independent candidate Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate, Peter Camejo, came to campus Tuesday to bash Bush and Kerry and build up the Green Party.
Camejo, who ran for California governor on the Green Party ticket during the 2003 recall election, spoke to a small but enthusiastic crowd of about 35 people, several members of which shouted out their support during his hour-long speech at noon in the MultiCultural Center Theater. During the event, organized by UCSB Campus Greens, Camejo talked about a variety of topics ranging from the War in Iraq, to gay marriage, to oil prices.
Kerry and Bush are more alike than people think, Camejo said, citing Kerry’s support for the War in Iraq.
“Think about it – Kerry gave Bush 18 standing ovations in one hour during the State of the Union address,” he said. “You’ll notice that they’re not arguing over what to do about the War in Iraq, they’re arguing about who can do it better … Kerry has supported everything Bush has asked him to do. The Democrats have already proposed a draft, they’re just not calling it a draft – they’re calling it service to America … You watch these guys debate and it’s like – who’s the dumbest?”
Camejo said the Green Party is the best alternative for those voters who are tired of the uniformity within the traditional two-party system. Voters wishing to vote in favor of the Nader-Camejo ticket can write them in on the ballot, he said.
“Everyone thinks we’re in a political prison where you have to vote for Kerry or Bush,” he said. “Nader in this campaign represents the majority opinion in the world that the War in Iraq is wrong. Bush and Kerry combined are a tiny minority. There’s never been a larger political consensus in the history of the world … The U.S. will never pacify Iraq.”
Camejo also criticized the economic policies which tax the poor over the rich.
“The GDP [Gross Domestic Product] keeps going up, but 90 percent of our population have had no increase in their income in the last 30 years, when you account for inflation,” he said. “All the money has gone to the richest one percent. If California’s richest five percent paid as much in taxes as the average person in California, there would be no deficit. We wouldn’t need tax hikes, we wouldn’t have to increase tuition.”
The Green Party solutions to America’s problems, Camejo said, would focus the nation on the economy and the environment.
“We need to have a crash program for alternative energy,” he said. “One-third of the Bush tax cut could have put solar power in every house in America. Wind power is now cheaper than natural gas or coal. They’re not focusing on what the economy really needs. We could have universal health care – every country in Europe has it. We need to get the insurance companies out of it.”
Members of the audience addressed Camejo in a brief question-and-answer session following the speech. Santa Barbara resident and Green Party member Consuelo Delgado said she defended the decision of Greens to vote for their party, despite the pressure of “spoiling” the election.
“Nader didn’t give his votes over to Bush,” Delgado said. “So many Greens are running around scared. We have to get off the fear button.”
Chris Dunstan, second year computer science major and one of the organizers of the event, said he wanted to share the Green philosophy with UCSB.
“I heard [Camejo] speak and really liked his message,” Dunstan said. “We wanted to reach out to people in this community with this message. People here are generally for the values of the Green Party – like environmental responsibility, social justice and non-violence.”
Second year film studies major Sam Marks said he enjoyed the informative and entertaining nature of Camejo’s speech.
“I thought it was great and informative and I’m really glad one of the political parties chose to have one of their candidates here. I doubt the other major political parties would do that,” Marks said. “I think he was a good speaker. He made people laugh with the ridiculous situation we’re in with our politics.”