Nader Says America
Needs More Citizens
By Andrea Vukcevic
you write a thousand-word essay on your citizen skills?" consumer
advocate Ralph Nader asked an audience of about 550 at UNCP's Givens
Performing Arts Center Tuesday night.
"If you can't,
you're looking at a big gap in your education," he said.
In a speech entitled
"The American Duopoly" Nader addressed America's civic versus
commercial values, and the imbalance that exists in favor of big business.
Nader is the nation's leading consumer advocate and Green Party candidate
for president in 2000.
of Americans dying for their country," he said. "Have you
heard of Americans who gave their life for their company?"
Nader detailed the
struggles blue-collar workers all over the United States have endured,
and cited examples of textile employees from North and South Carolina
who died from brown lung disease.
He urged citizens
to "roll up their sleeves" and "stand tall against injustice."
Nader said people must become "pen pals" with members of Congress
and make sure these elected officials have the "moral courage"
to make unpopular decisions.
post-secondary education because it does not provide the "citizen
skills" needed to make informed decisions. Citizenship skills build
a strong democracy, solve problems and foresee perils, he said. This
can be done only if we have knowledge of history, a sense of civic respect,
and empathy for future generations.
Nader emerged into
the public spotlight in 1965 with the publication of his book, "Unsafe
At Any Speed." It detailed General Motors' corporate decision to
maximize profits by producing an unsafe car, the Corvair.
He has published
many more books and is considered the most prominent leader of the U.S.
consumer protection movement. Nader founded the Center for the Study
of Responsive Law, the Center for Auto Safety, and the Public Interest
Research Group. The L.A. Times also named him one of the 50 people who
most influenced business in this century.
He accused American
automobile companies of selling style over safety, and until Volvo introduced
the three-point seatbelt, there was little emphasis on building quality
The 2000 Green Party
presidential candidate has been accused of taking enough Democratic
votes from Al Gore to give George W. Bush the presidency. But it does
not seem to worry him.
"The two parties
are becoming more and more look-alike," Nader said. "Voters
don't think there is anything different about them. If a third party
can't get onto a presidential debate, they can't get anywhere."
He made sure to
tell this audience that North Carolina is the toughest state in which
to get a third party on the ballot. 52,000 signatures are required by
law here to get a third party on the ballot.
Speaker Series continues Jan. 28 with Edward James Olmos, followed
by Maya Angelou on Feb. 26 and Sherman Alexie on April 2. All lectures
are at 7 p.m. at Givens Performing Arts Center
and the cost is $5.
is a journalism major at UNCP.
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