Peter Miguel Camejo, running mate of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader, was at Bates College on Monday to lecture students in a history course, “Wartime Dissent in Modern America,” held at the Bates Chapel.

Before the class, Camejo was interviewed about his candidacy.

Q: The Democrats are fighting to keep you off state ballots. Republicans are fighting to let you on. Do you think Ralph Nader and you are likely to draw votes from John Kerry and John Edwards that could end up swinging November’s election to George W. Bush?

A: It is true that the Democratic Party is doing something extremely unusual, that’s never been done before in American history. They’re in a massive campaign to keep a person who is opposed to the war and the Patriot Act, among many other things, off the ballot because their candidate is pro-war and their supporters are anti-war. Their candidate, John Kerry, is for the Patriot Act when the overwhelming majority of the people who plan to vote for him are against the Patriot Act. So they are terrified that they will not be able to steal from the peace candidate all their votes because who’s stealing obviously is the Democrats from Nader because people should vote for whom they agree with, and the majority of people planning to vote for Kerry agree with Nader. We have not gotten Republican support. Of all the money we’ve raised, 4 percent has come from Republicans, even though we’re expecting about 25 percent of our vote to be from Republicans as it was in 2000. But the Democrats are out presenting this giant lie that the Nader campaign is simply backed by Republicans. That’s not true.

Q: Green Party vice presidential candidate Pat LaMarche, from Maine, said she would urge voters who otherwise would vote for the Kerry ticket to not vote for her and David Cobb. Would you say the same to your supporters?

A: Not at all I’m a Green. I’m in the Green Party. I believe the Green Party should always urge people to vote for what they believe in. The fact that many people don’t is because we have an undemocratic electoral system. But I believe people should be able to vote as they do in Europe. They can vote for whatever political party they support and there’s never a spoilership because the electoral laws are written so there can’t be spoilership by proportional representation and by runoff elections, which is what we need in America. I do not agree with Pat LaMarche’s call for people to vote for Kerry. The Green Party’s platform, our 10 key values, Kerry doesn’t agree with a single one of them. He’s pro-war. He’s against the Bill of Rights. He has a terrible record on issues of labor and other social justice issues. So I would never call for people to vote for Kerry.

Q: What is the goal of the Nader/Camejo ticket, given the impossible odds of a win in November?

A: I think the word “win” has many different meanings. And the fact that a voice is speaking out for peace and demanding free elections in America is in itself a victory for those who believe in democracy. I think most Americans do. Americans are not very knowledgeable about the electoral systems used even in Mexico next door, in Canada, or all over the world. The American system is extremely backward and I think that we are making our point. We are certainly getting a reaction, certainly from the Democrats but also the Republicans because in both cases we just disagree with them. Also there’s the massive peace movement. Polls have shown 51 percent against the war and we’re giving voice to those concerns and those issues and we’re pointing out how that point of view, which is the overwhelming majority in the world, will be excluded from the debates.

Q: You have been a Socialist candidate for president. You were a Green Party candidate in the California gubernatorial race last year. Why are you not running as a Green Party member for president? Are you still registered with that party or any party?

A: I’m 100 percent Green. I ran twice for governor of California as a Green. And this is a coalition between independents and primarily Greens but others too that are working with Ralph Nader to present an alternative. The overwhelming majority of Greens in the United States are supporting Ralph Nader.

Q: How would a Nader administration differ from a Kerry administration on health care, jobs, the environment, education, deficit spending and Social Security?

A: We’re fundamentally different because we’re trying to represent the people; Kerry represents money. This is our whole thesis, that the corporate world has taken over our whole political system and the needs of people. Look. Every European country has universal health care. Why can’t America have what Europe has? It’s absurd. We’re the richest country in the world, we obviously could have it. But the Democrats and Republicans are not going to give it to you. Twenty-five percent of the money going to health care goes to insurance companies. We need to change to the single-payer system. On all these issues. Labor, we get rid of the Taft-Hartley Law. Workers should have the right to unionize and to defend their interests. We want the minimum wage raised. It’s been lowered by the Democrats and Republicans for the last 30 years. I could just go on and on. We think the taxes should be progressive and we certainly think the taxes should be lowered for working people. And at the state level, it’s actually become completely regressive. In California, the poorest 20 percent pay a 57 percent higher tax rate than the richest 1 percent. And that, we think, is just unacceptable.

Q: Would the Nader administration pull U.S. troops out of Iraq immediately or gradually withdraw?

A: I think a Nader administration would end the occupation as fast as physically possible because what we are doing is not only a violation of international law but the will of the Iraqi people. You cannot be for democracy and then go against what the people of that nation want. Everybody knows that if it was on the ballot tomorrow – Should the American troops be here or not? – that it would be 90 percent would vote for the United States to leave. The polls have shown only 2 percent in Iraq believe the American troops are there to liberate them. The fact is, this will not work, to occupy other nations no matter what reason you give for it. I do not believe at all that the United State is there to create democracy because if that were true they would not be arming and supporting dictators all around Iraq and they would not have helped and even gave poison gas to Saddam Hussein. Why is it the whole media, everybody forgets that George Bush No. 1 sent a statement congratulating and supporting Saddam Hussein in 1990 after he had used poison gas on his people? Now his son gets up and says, “What a horrible man.”

bio box
Peter Miguel Camejo, running mate of independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader

AGE: 64

EDUCATION: attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and University of California at Berkley


PROFESSION: financier and businessman, chairman of the Board of Progressive Asset Management of California, an investment firm

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