Nader speaks to Westfield State, encourages students to take action [by Angela]
Ralph Nader wants Americans to start taking control of their lives.
The 74-year-old politician spoke to an impressive crowd in the Woodward Center at Westfield State College yesterday, and tackled issues like corruption in Congress, the problem with big corporations, and most importantly, how we as Americans need to do something about it.
“There are lots of forces coming in on young people to distract them from that critical goal,” said Nader. “Let’s face it, we do not have a high enough expectation level as to what kind of country, what kind of lives, we want to lead.”
Nader, a Winstead, Conn. native, is an attorney (he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1958), author, and longtime political activist. He’s run for President numerous times, both as a member of the Green Party and the Independent Party.
Nader first made his mark in politics in the 1960s when he strongly advocated for automobile safety , which led to the unanimous passing of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Nader’s grassroots attitude toward making changes in big government resonated loudly with the Westfield audience coming on the heels of Obama’s election.
When Nader asked the crowd how many of them have been to a Walmart or a mall, among other places, a slew of hands went up. “Let’s turn it around,” said Nader. “How many of you have been to a court of law as a spectator, or a town or city hall meeting?” A small percentage of hands raised, which spurred Nader to ask the audience why, as a country, we aren’t made to do these things.
Said Nader, “People think because they are personally free that they are free. That’s not civic freedom. Civic freedom is being able to shape what kind of country and world we’re living in.”
Nader thinks the first step in shaping our freedom is understanding our power as citizens. He strongly advocates the integration of civic skill courses into our classrooms, and urges Americans to exercise the rights provided for us in the Constitution.
Nader speaks against Congress, who he said has their own agenda. “The government is continuing to subordinate the country,” said Nader, who then referred to the Republican and Democratic Party as the same person wearing different makeup.
“Unless we subordinate the corporate entity to the sovereignty of the people, we will forever be subordinate to them, and that’s not a fair fight,” said Nader.
Nader referenced a Chinese proverb that originated during the Ming Dynasty, “to know and not to do is not to know,” and urged the audience to start talking about corporate crime, minimum wage, the electoral system, and alternative energy sources.
“We don’t understand how powerful we are. Therefore, we are powerless. The politicians are still afraid of you, because you’re the only one who has the vote, even though corporations have the money,” said Nader. “We do not demand enough.”